It is estimated that the anti-aging industry will be worth USD 191.7 billion by the year 2019. Baby boomers are scrambling to purchase the next miracle cream or serum that promises to turn back the hands of time by reducing wrinkles and tightening sagging skin.
Although many of these creams do help the skin’s general appearance, you must nourish the body from the inside out to truly slow the actual physical signs of aging. However, aging means much more than finding a few crow’s feet or laugh lines. In order to fully understand how to slow the aging process, you must first understand what happens to the body as we grow older.
As we age, our vital organs begin to lose function. These changes occur in all of our organs, tissues and cells, therefore affecting the function of all bodily systems.
All living tissue is comprised of cells. Although there are many various types of cells, they all have the same basic structure. A tissue is simply several layers of similar cells that all perform a specific function. These various types of tissues are then grouped together to form an organ.
The body is comprised of four basic types of tissues:
- Epithelial tissue provides a type of covering for the deeper body layers. The outer skin and the linings of all the passages inside the body, such as the esophagus and intestines, are made of epithelial tissue.
- Connective tissues support and bind other tissues together. This includes lymph, blood and bone tissues, as well as any tissue that gives support to the internal organs and outer layers of skin.
- Muscle tissue is actually comprised of three other types of tissue. Striated muscles are those that help to move skeletal frame. Smooth muscles are contained in internal organs such as the stomach. Cardiac muscles make up the heart walls.
- Nerve tissue is comprised of nerve cells and carries messages between all areas of the body. The spinal cord and brain are made of these types of tissues.
How aging affects cells
Because cells are the building blocks of all bodily tissues, they are the first to experience changes as we age. They grow larger with age, and are then less able to multiply. There is also an increase in fatty substances within these cells. Many cells begin to function abnormally, or lose their ability to function at all.
As the aging process continues, connective tissues become stiff, making blood vessels, organs and even airways rigid. The cell membranes begin to change, causing tissues to struggle to obtain vital nutrients and oxygen. It also makes it more difficult for the cells to eliminate wastes and carbon dioxide.
Tissues begin storing waste products, along with a fatty brown pigment known as lipofuscin. Various tissues also begin to lose mass- a process called atrophy. Many tissues develop nodules, giving them a lumpy appearance or may become rigid.
Because of these various tissue and cellular changes, the organs also go through changes. They slowly begin to lose function, often so slowly it goes unnoticed until an organ actually shuts down. The majority of these changes occur in the kidneys, heart and lungs.
When an organ experiences changes due to aging, it must work harder than normal to perform its duties, although it may not be able to increase its function. Various health problems, such as sudden heart failure, can surface as a result of the heart being overworked. Major contributors to body stressors that lead to organs being overworked can include:
- various medications
- prolonged illness
- significant life events such as the death of a spouse or the end of a long-term marriage
- a significant increase of physical demands, such as a forced change in activity
Now that we have discussed how aging affects the body on a cellular level, let us look at how these cellular changes affect our outward appearance.
Cellular degeneration and the effects it has on skin
There are two categories of skin aging- intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging is comprised of changes that are out of your control, such as genetic factors.Extrinsic aging includes things you can control, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or the sun. When one or both of these effects are combined with the results of cellular aging that we described above, the skin becomes wrinkled, dotted with sun spots and loses its elasticity.
Incorporating high-quality supplements to help strengthen and support all the tissues in the body, along with a sound nutritional plan, can help greatly slow the physical signs of aging and ward off many age-related illnesses.
Supplements to slow the aging process
Several supplements and nutrients have been proven to help support the body’s tissues and cells throughout the aging process. The top four are:
- Co-enzyme Q 10: CoQ 10 is necessary for cells to function properly. It produces a molecule known as ATP that provides cells with the energy they need to function. As we age, our bodies naturally produce less CoQ10, resulting in abnormally functioning cells. This can lead to age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Carnitine: Carnitine is produced naturally in the kidneys and liver, and is stored in the muscles, heart, brain and sperm. This important nutrient helps the body convert fat stores into usable energy. As we age, our carnitine production slows, leading to such ailments as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is well-known for its ability to keep the heart healthy. It also helps to slow the physical signs of aging due to its antioxidant effects. These antioxidants help to reverse the physical signs of aging caused by damaging free radicals as a result of excessive sun exposure, exposure to cigarette smoke and other environmental toxins. Consuming fresh salmon is another way to include this nutrient in your diet.
- HGH: Human growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and helps promote normal growth in children. However, once you reach adulthood, your HGH levels naturally begin to drop. It helps to stimulate the growth of new cells, tissues and can strengthen bones. It is also considered by many to be a ‘fountain of youth’ tonic that can help slow and even reverse all signs of the aging process.
As you can see, physical aging begins on the cellular level and extends outward. By supporting your body with the proper supplements and following a diet that is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and oily fish such as salmon, you can slow the signs of aging and enhance your overall health.