Aging causes normal, gradual changes in the body's organs, tissues, and cells.
The changes caused by aging affect the entire body. These changes are readily apparent in areas such as the hair and skin. Unseen changes also occur in the internal organs, in tissues, and in cells. Organs are made up of tissue, and tissues are made up of cells. Aging is a process that affects each cell in the body.
Age brings changes in the amount, type, and location of tissue in the body. For example, more fat builds up in the central area of the torso over time, and the amount of muscle in the legs decreases. The organs all slowly lose cells and some of their function.
As the body ages, cells in all the tissues and organs of the body change. Cells slowly lose the ability to divide and reproduce as easily. Fat is deposited into cells, tissues, and organs. This contributes to a loss of function over time. Tissues such as bone, muscle, and skin become less elastic (stiffer). The membranes of the cells change, and cells are less equipped to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide and wastes.
The body has many extra cells. The kidneys, liver, heart, and brain do not need all of their cells to function well. This is why, at first, people may not notice that they are losing cells and function. When enough cells are lost, however, eventually the organs are affected. In some people, this can happen as early as the 50s.
Because of changes in blood flow to the brain and heart, some people may notice changes in their ability to think or exercise beginning around the age of 50. Others do not notice these problems until they are much older. Any serious health problems can worsen or speed this decline in function.
Other factors that may affect how various organs of the body function include: certain medicinesemotional or psychological stress, such as depression, or significant life changesenvironmental factors, including exposure to toxinsgeneticslevel of physical activity levelphysical stress, caused by illness or the environmentpoor nutritionsmoking or alcohol usedrug abuse
As people age, they are less able to clear medicines from the body because of declines in liver and kidney function. Drugs may stay in the body longer and cause more side effects. Because of changes in the liver, the breakdown of cholesterol in the blood also diminishes. This can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in the blood and blood vessels.
Ways to decrease or slow the effects of aging on organs, tissue, and cells include: avoiding exposure to dangerous materialsavoiding smoking and alcoholavoiding too much sunlighteating properly and maintaining a normal weightexercising regularly 3 to 5 times per week, with both aerobic and muscle toning exercisesregular stretchingkeeping chronic conditions such as diabetes in good control getting enough reststaying active socially, mentally, and emotionally