Updated: Jul 22
When do we start to age?
From the moment you are born, your body is constantly changing and mutating. First you grow, then you get stronger, and finally you begin what we call the ageing process.
Claude Chauchard, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine has observe that this process really begins in most people after 40 years old.
If the visible consequences of ageing can differ from one person to another. You might be able to spot the consequences of ageing in your every day life. How many of those signs did you already notice?
Commun signs of ageing:
1a) Difficulty to do meticulous tasks, (painfull joints, shaking, coordination)
1b) Trips and falls (slow reflexes, loss of balance)
1c) Forgetting names, words or what you had for lunch yesterday. (memory)
2a) Being out of breath (respiratory system)
2b) Feeling sluggish and tired (cardiovascular system)
2c) Bruising (loss of tissue elasticity)
3a) Stiff neck and back (postural problems)
3b) Finding that objects are too hard to move (loss of strength)
3c) Difficulty to dress, especially socks (mobility issues)
3d) Fractures (lower bone density)
4a) Constipation (digestion)
4b) Dry mouth, headaches (dehydration)
5a) Hard to see from close or at night
5b) Hard to hear and understand people in a noisy environment
How to explain those changes and what can I do about it?
Please notice that I have classified the signs of ageing under 5 numbes. Let me now explain those main 5 sources of ageing one by one and give you recommendations on how to slow down their affects.
1) The nervous system
After 40yo the number of neurones located in the brain decrease at a speed of 10,000 per day. Thus affecting memory and processing brain functions. Tao Liqun, (Director of the Aging Society Medical Research Section of the China Research Center on Aging).
But the speed of the neurons decreise too. With age, the peripheral nerves (on the spine arms and legs) may conduct impulses more slowly, resulting in decreased sensation, slower reflexes, and often some clumsiness. It is due to the degeneration of the myelin sheaths located around the nerves.
Recommendations: Keep your brain active by interacting with people and reading or writing. And Keep your secondary nervous system active by doing activities requiting coordination and reflexes like dance or ball activities.
2 ) Cardio vascular system
The most common change in the cardiovascular system is the stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries. It forces your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This in turn will increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems. Another consequence is that it will not be able to increase the heart rate as easilly during activities.
Recommendations: Daily light to moderate cardio exercise like walking, cycling or swiming added to a healthy diet to avoid overweight and clogging of arteries.
3) The moving system: bones, joints and muscles
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density due to a worsening of the calcification process (osteopenia and osteoporosis), your joints becomes stiff as the cartilage and bone in joints starts to weaken and get inflamed (arthritis) and the muscles becomes weaker and less flexible (sarcopenia). Bad habits, sedentarity and stiffening can cause dangerous and painfull postural unbalances.
Recommendations: Take calcium and Vitamine D supplements combined with a walk 20min outdoors per day. Move and stretch all your joints daily. And do some compound strength exercises.
4) Digestive system
Age-related structural changes in the large intestine can result in more constipation in older adults. Other contributing factors include a lack of exercise, not drinking enough fluids and a low-fiber diet. Medications, such as diuretics and iron supplements, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, also might contribute to constipation.
Recommendations: Make sure your diet includes high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit high-fat meats, dairy products and sweets, which might cause constipation. Drink plenty of water often during the day.
5) The sensory system
On top of the damage to the primary and secondary nervous system that processes the information coming from your senses, your ears and eyes are one of the first organs to suffer from the ageing process.
The age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. It is the result of the combined diminution of blood flow, structural change, and the destruction of the tiny hairs in your hears. You'll also notice that you'll loose the abilty to hear high frequencies, making some songs sound like boum boum to you...
Recommendations: Avoid loud noises environments. Wear protective equipment. in loud environments. Don't hesitate to check your hearing with a professional as there are great hearing aids in the market that could kelp you get a social life back!
Common age-related eye problems include presbyopia (the lens inside the eye begins to lose its ability to change shape) , glaucoma (too much pressure inside the eye causes damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eyeball), dry eyes (your tears aren't able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes), macular degeneration (research indicates that it may be related to a combination of heredity and environmental factors, including smoking and diet), cataracts (opacification of the lens of the eye) and diabetic retinopathy (reduction of blood flow in the retina).
Recommendations: Go to check your vision once per year and wear appropriates glasses. Avoid long periods of time watchin at a screen (2h max at the time). Look far away often during the day (during your walk).
Science does not have the key to stop ageing. But by understanding better the process, we can manage to slow it down enough to be able to enjoy life for longer. What is known for now, is that a combination of healthy nutrition, daily physical activity and mental stimulation is necessary to maintain all those systems in action.
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Ad stay tuned for my next articles about how science recommend seniors to eat and exercise!
In the mean time, if you want more info about any of this topics, please refer to those great websites: