Anti-Aging Advice For More Than Just Your SkinPreventive healthcare
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
The global market for anti-aging skincare treatments is expected to surpass $191 billion by 2019. In the U.S., 85 percent of women apply an average of 16 skincare and cosmetic products every day. And another study showed that men spend as much as women – about $8 a day – on their skin.
Why? We obviously all want to look our best, and this usually translates into looking as young as possible. And this takes a lot of work because normal aging of our skin leads to atrophy, decreased elasticity and wrinkles.
But our internal organs also get old. Just because we can’t see them getting older in the same way we can see our face aging, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. And it doesn’t mean that our internal organs don’t need the same care and attention as we give our largest organ – our skin. The truth is that much like the crow’s feet we start getting on our face, our organs and body systems start showing their own versions of ‘wrinkles.’ Moreover, this may start as early as the age of 30!
How Our Organs Age
Age negatively affects the majority of our organs. And even though different organs age at different rates, the negative impact of aging gets more pronounced as we get older.
To give you an idea:
- Cardiovascular System – As we get older, there are anatomical changes in our heart. For example, the left ventricle stiffens with aging and the left atrium gets bigger. The aortic valve also develops calcific deposits. And some of these changes may start to occur from the age of 30. As a result, aging increases our risk of developing a variety of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and coronary artery disease. Our hearts also become less efficient. The result is an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Respiratory System – Our lungs reach maturity by around age 25, and from then on we may experience an increasing decline in lung function. These include changes in the size and shape of our lungs as well as how efficiently they work. These, combined with weaker coughs and ability to clear out contaminants, increase the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
- Mental Acuity and Cognitive Skills – Most women’s brains have matured by the age of 21. It takes a little longer for men, whose brains tend to reach full maturity at around the age of 25. Once we hit age 65, our brains start to lose volume with the greatest loss in the frontal and temporal lobes. These are the areas of the brain that control, among other things, problem solving, memory, language, judgement and impulse control. This helps explain why cognitive skills can begin to decrease with more advanced age.
- Muscles and Bones – While there can be differences among people of the same and different sexes, muscle mass tends to decrease by about 30 to 50 percent from its peak as we age. And this loss is not uniform, because we tend to lose more muscle mass in our legs than in our arms. Strength also tends to decrease from its peak at around age 30 – almost a 60 percent decrease by the time we reach 80. Bones don’t fare much better with an approximately annual 0.5 percent decline in mass. This decline may be even worse for women after menopause.
- Digestive System – Our gastrointestinal tract tends to do quite well as we age. But there are changes that can impact how well our bodies absorb nutrients, especially micronutrients and vitamin D. This could contribute to issues such as malnourishment and bone loss due to vitamin D’s role in helping the body properly utilize calcium for bone health.
- Hepatobiliary System – Our livers can lose up to 40 percent of their mass as we age, which can greatly impact this organ’s ability to eliminate medications and other substances such as caffeine from our systems.
- Renal System – Kidneys suffer multiple effects of aging (from age 30 onward) including a decrease in mass of about 25 to 30 percent. This can negatively impact their ability to remove waste materials from our body and excrete them adequately in urine.
- Sight and Hearing – Eye structure changes with age, and with these changes our vision acuity starts to decrease around the age of 40. We also become susceptible to drier eyes, and the risk of conditions like cataracts increases. Our hearing may also start to decline in our early 30s, most notably high-frequency ranges and in our ability to recognize speech in noisy environments.
- Taste - Our taste sensitivity also decreases with age. One study showed older patients required “30 percent higher concentrations of aspartame to detect this artificial sweetener.” And “ more salt (two- to threefold) needs to be added to tomato soup before it can be appreciated by an older person.”
- Immune System – Our immune systems also weakens and become less effective with age. Because this is our first defense against disease, it can open us up to a wide range of threats to our health such as cancer, bacterial and viral infections and autoimmune disorders. It also makes it harder for our bodies to fight off new diseases we may not have already have antibodies to.
How to be proactive?
While we, of course, can’t avoid getting older, we can take steps to ensure that our organs don’t age faster than they need to and that they remain as healthy as possible for the longest time possible.
One of the most important steps we can take to keep our bodies in tip-top-shape as we age is knowing both the types and amounts of nutrients we need. Unborn children, infants and young children, for example, need much higher levels of macronutrients and most micronutrients relative to their body size compared to older children and adults. And older adults often need more of certain nutrients, such as vitamin D, and less of other nutrients, such as iron, than do younger adults.
We also need to remember that our bodies’ ability to absorb and process these nutrients also changes with age. In other words, our ability to absorb nutrients may be decreasing at a time when our bodies’ need for them is increasing.
The right balance of nutrients is necessary for our organs to stay healthier, and therefore younger, for longer. They may, as the song goes, “turn back time” or help ensure that they don’t become old before their time. These nutrients include water, minerals, fats, proteins and vitamins.
So for example, vitamin C deficiency (which you may be more prone to as you age, even if you are diligent about eating vitamin C rich foods) may lead to symptoms like fatigue, inflammation of the gums, joint pain and poor wound healing.
Similarly, vitamin B12 deficiency may affect many adults - up to 30% - because as they age, they may be unable to absorb vitamin B12 that is naturally present in foods. (“Most, however, can absorb the synthetic vitamin B12 from dietary supplements.”) A condition called atrophic gastritis causes decreased secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. “Decreased hydrochloric acid levels may also increase the growth of normal intestinal bacteria that use vitamin B12, further reducing the amount of vitamin B12 available to the body.” It has been recommended that some adults may require much higher amounts of vitamin b12 than the recommended daily allowance to avoid deficiency.
And keep in mind, it’s not just about consuming as many nutrients as possible. Balance is also key.
For example, having the correct balance of sodium and potassium in the body is critical to prevent high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease. Studies show that the sodium/potassium ratio intake should be less than 1.
Just like we are unable to see the signs of aging of our insides, we are not able to judge what our nutrient needs are based solely on our physical appearance. Nutritional deficiencies may often cause us to experience symptoms, and sometimes we can have a deficiency and not experience any symptoms at all.
This is why nutritional testing is so imperative, especially as we age and our bodies may not be able to absorb nutrients like it used to when we were younger. And once we know our results, we can work with a competent healthcare professional to tweak our diets, take good quality supplements or even consider the use of liposomal technology.
It can take a long time before we start to experience how any nutrient deficiency or imbalance may have affected the aging of our organs. In fact, most people won’t see them until after they reach 40 or beyond. Our best bet is to be proactive and routinely test our nutrient levels.
Understanding and testing for nutritional deficiencies during childhood is also important, since these deficiencies may affect the proper functioning of our organs as we age.
So let’s not just focus on keeping our external organs healthy and beautiful. Remember, those organs we cannot see also play a critical role in keeping us beautiful, happy and healthy.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.