Factors Relating to Aging

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Information on Factors Relating to Aging

Aging is something we all regard with fear and loathing. Just as the average life expectancy has increased in the last fifty years, so too we expect to extend the period of youthfulness as long as possible - well into late middle age at least. However, while aging is a natural process, most of us age prematurely and suffer from degenerative diseases because of our unnatural lifestyle. Characteristics of age which might seem 'normal' - increasing blood pressure, weight gain and muscle deterioration, shrinking skeleton, joint stiffness, hardening of the arteries, loss of memory and concentration, and poor circulation - may only be normal because our whole society has adopted sedentary lifestyles and faulty nutrition patterns. It may be usual, but it isn't necessarily natural.

The major degenerative diseases of Western society, cardiovascular disease, cancer and various disorders of the brain (the dementias, including Alzheimer's disease), are now not simply thought of as an inevitable part of growing older, but are believed to be related to our polluted air, water and food supply. Nutritional scientist believes that the growth of the junk food industry and the effect of ever-increasing stress levels throughout all aspects of our lives play a large part in the onset of these diseases.

Aging occurs at cellular level. As the body ages the cells begin to deteriorate and function less efficiently. Perhaps the most obvious symptoms of age are decreased reaction time and increasing inflexibility. Our response to our environment slows over time and, because we bring all our past into present, we begin to develop set patterns or habits which become more difficult to change the older we become.

From the physical point of view, the tissues break down, the skin loses it elasticity, muscles weaken, joints wear, hair thins, eyesight and hearing fail, metabolism rate reduces, immunity to infection decreases. Psychologically, the view of our world probably becomes entrenched to the extent that change seems difficult and uncomfortable compared to when we were children. We resist change, until life-threatening illnesses, and other extreme personal traumas, force us to take stock, to rethink our priorities, to refocus on our values and to decide what kind of life we really want to live. In some ways, the environmental crisis is forcing us to do just such a rethink, on a global scale. The good news is that crisis and change can be a positive force for our health and well-being.


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