We certainly do not yet know all the reasons why our body ages, but you will find an article on the most commonly accepted causes of aging, and their mechanism. These causes have their effects which we will describe here.
Of course, these are general tendencies which are accentuated especially in old age. However, these are the effects listed and observed by health and biological professionals. It is precisely these effects that we seek to avoid or slow down on this site, to stay in top shape.
The aging of the body seen from the outside
Seen from the outside, here are the main changes that take place with age. They generally allow us to give an age to a person, from near or even from afar.
The silhouette settles and stoops
The inter-vertebral discs dehydrate and lose thickness: we become smaller. In some cases, the joints can become deformed by wear of the cartilages and remodeling of the bone extremities.
The silhouette bends in the so-called “skier” position, shoulders forward, arched back, knees slightly bent. The muscular structure tends to retract forwards while a youthful figure shows a straightening of the back and an opening of the chest and shoulders.
Decreased muscle volume
Muscle mass decreases and is gradually replaced by fat. The round muscles are the most affected: shoulders, buttocks…
The skin slackens, stains and refines
The skin hardly produces any more elastic fibers after 40 years and thus gradually loses its elasticity and suppleness. Deposits of pigments appear giving the so-called brown spots “of age”.
In addition, sebum production decreases and the skin becomes dehydrated. Collagen production decreases by about 1% per year from the age of 25. So at 50, you can have twice as much collagen as at 20.
In the end, the skin becomes thinner, drier, less supple and less elastic. Wrinkles appear and the face sags.
Hair turns white and thins
They become drier, sparser and their color turns white because the cells making pigments no longer function properly (melanocytes).
The volumes of the face change and are drawn downwards (ptosis) with a loss of the oval of the lower face. Wrinkles deepen more or less in different places depending on facial expressions.
The lips become thinner, the nose lengthens and thickens.
The teeth wear out, the dental mass recedes and loses its volume, the smile is drawn downwards and shows more of the lower teeth than the upper ones.
How does the body age inside?
Here are the main changes that are made inside the body:
Bones and supporting tissues
- bone decalcification, especially if physical activity is non-existent
- increase in fibrous and fatty tissue without useful function
- supporting tissues, both at the level of the coverings and of the organs, stiffen. They lose their flexibility and become dehydrated.
Organs also age
- decrease in respiratory volume with loss of elasticity and permeability of the pulmonary alveoli.
- Blood vessels lose their flexibility and their internal wall becomes clogged (atheroma plaques, etc.). Blood microcirculation slows down in the capillaries. The heart also loses its flexibility and its power.
- decrease in digestive secretions (bile, pancreatic juices, intestinal secretions, hydrochloric acid from the stomach, etc.) with slowing of intestinal transit and/or constipation.
- decreased glucose tolerance (sugar). This promotes the onset of diabetes and weight problems.
- hormone production decreasesand in particular: melatonin, growth hormone and DHEA which allows the production of sex hormones.
- filtration and renal elimination water-soluble toxins decrease.
Our immune defenses weaken with age
The function of the immune system becomes less good at resisting germs and infections. This is partly linked to the decline in our hormonal production, but the factors are multiple and the effects of aging such as oxidation and glycation of tissues also have a role in the weakening of immunity.
Our white blood cells become less responsive and less efficient. Our body produces fewer antibodies to defend itself and for a shorter duration compared to young subjects.
The production of antibodies directed against our own tissues will be more frequent and may lead to autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc.).
The elimination of abnormal (and cancerous) cells as well as foreign bodies is less successful.
Neurological effects of aging
The brain loses 5-10% of its weight as we age. The number of neurons can decrease, the cells of the brain not renewing themselves but nothing proves that this is systematic. The speed of transmission of nerve impulses decreases, in particular because of the oxidation of cerebral lipids. The concentration and production of neuromediators decreases (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, etc.).
The senses decrease with age: hearing and sight but also taste, smell and touch.
mental abilities may be affected to a greater or lesser extent depending on how it is used. Depression is becoming more common. The most easily affected intellectual faculties are: memory, concentration, initiative and the ability to adapt to events and stress.
Diseases related to aging
The multiple effects of aging will make our body much more vulnerable to so-called “degenerative” diseases. They are well known and have now become the main causes of mortality: arteriosclerosis, cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Note however that these diseases, which certainly appear with age, also depend on the lifestyle and are mainly found in industrialized countries. In some regions of the globe, particularly in Asia, they were unknown or little known, before the arrival of the Western way of life and its industrial food…
The changes in neurons seen above, the decrease in detoxifying capacities, the poorer defenses against glycation and oxidation mean that our body becomes more exposed to neurodegenerative diseases. These are mainly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and macular degeneration of the eye (AMD).
The second cause of age-related mortality, cancers see their frequency increase markedly after the age of 60. We cannot directly correlate aging and cancer. However, many mechanisms involved in aging will promote its appearance (oxidation, reduced immunity, inflammation, DNA modification, etc.). Again, many studies show that diet and lifestyle can reduce the risk factors for declaring cancer, even as you age.
These are mainly coronary heart disease (infarction, angina pectoris, etc.), vascular accidents and arteriosclerosis. They are now the leading cause of death in the elderly.
As with cancer, they do not inevitably accompany advancing age, but the various effects of aging on the body (even on the mind) will favor their appearance. At the top of the list is chronic inflammation, but also oxidation and glycation, among others.
It should also be noted that lifestyle and diet influence the onset of these diseases, regardless of age. Which is rather good news.
Finally, more than living a long life, the important thing is above all to live long but healthywhich is not the same story (see this article).
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