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Series on Aging!

Aging: Beginning to an end?

When do you get old?

Aging and the "Fountain of Youth"

Why does the body get old?

Vision changes as we age

Hearing and the aging process

Fitness and Wellness Articles:

The Facts Behind Aging - Nutrition

Nurturing the Mind-Body Connection Through Relaxation

Our Destiny Involves Each of Us Taking Responsibility for Our Own Health

Dietary Supplements for Anti-Aging

Top 5 Anti-Aging Systems Explained

Theories of Aging Page #2

Theories of Aging Part I

5 Tibetan Rites: Discover the Secret to Youth and Anti Aging

Staying Young the Japanese Way  Page 2

Staying Young - the Japanese Way

Anti Aging and Eating: Top 10 Rules   

Conquer Sleep Problems for a Younger You   

Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Cure with Green Tea  

Anti-aging Tip: Taking Supplements and Abstaining From Alcohol  

Delay Aging By Up To 12 Years   

What is successful aging, really?

Staying Younger Through Lifelong Learning   

Staying Younger Through Lifelong Learning Page #2

Healthy Aging Through Staying Connected  

Anti Wrinkle Face Cream: Do You Need One?  

You Can Fight Aging Now!   3 Easy Steps to

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Aging: Why does the body get old? 

 

agingThe aging process takes place as changes occur in both individual cells as well as whole organs.  These changes result in changes in both appearance and functioning, resulting in the process of aging. 

Aging cells: 

Aging takes place over a period of time and eventually we begin to function less well.  Cells begin to die as a normal process of our bodyís functioning. They may die due to their inability to divide normally or as a result of being damaged.  They may be damaged by harmful substances in the environment such as radiation, sunlight, and even medications such as chemotherapy drugs. Also, they may be damaged by certain by-products of their own cellular processes.  We frequently hear of these by-products being referred to as free radicals, which are given off when cells produce energy. 

Many cells also die because they're programmed to do so. This programmed death of the cell is called apoptosis and is a normal part of the aging process.  Some experts have referred to this as somewhat of a cell suicide in which old cells are replaced by new cells and then excess cells are eliminated.  

Aging and cell death is also affected by the fact that cells can only divide a limited number of times.  This limit is also a part of the normal processes programmed by your genes. When cells can no longer divide they get larger, exist for a while and then die.  This limited cell division involves a structure called a telomere. Telomeres are used to move the cellís genetic material in preparation for cell division.  Each and every time that a cell divides the telomeres become shorter. Eventually they become so short that the cells can no longer divide. An interesting caveat is that the telomeres of cancer cells unlike those of normal cells, do not shorten each time that the cell divides and consequently cancer cells can divide forever. 

 

Aging organs: 

The aging process is also intimately affected by the functioning of bodily organs.  Organ functioning is also affected by how well the cells within a specific organ functions.  Older cells obviously function less well than younger ones.  Also, in some organs, cells die and are no longer replaced resulting and a fewer number of cells within that organ. The aging process takes a significant toll on the number of cells within the testes, ovaries, liver, and kidneys.  They decrease markedly as we age.  When the number of cells actually becomes too low the organ cannot function normally. Most organs function less well as people get older.  However, some organs do not necessarily lose significant numbers of cells.  The brain is a good example of this. Researchers are now beginning to conclude that healthy older people do not usually lose many brain cells.  Substantial brain cell losses are usually the result of a disease process such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's. 

The aging effect on one organ system will also affect the surrounding organs.  As an organ begins to decline in functioning, whether due to a disorder or to the aging process itself, it can also affect the functioning of another related organ.  For example, if atherosclerosis narrows the blood vessels to the kidneys, the kidneys function less well as there is a reduced amount of blood flowing to them. 

Some information from the Merck Manual of Health and Aging 

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate (Health Psychology) 

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