As we age, certain senses and bodily functions begin the decline. Though many of these gradual changes are a natural part of aging, some changes we may experience as we age are not. The key to avoiding the unnatural parts of aging and even slowing down or preventing the natural parts lies in taking care of our entire body— because aging affects the entire body.
The brain and the heart are two of the most important organs in the human body— and these two organs are the most susceptible to age-related changes, including illnesses. Dementia (in any form) is probably the most notable illness that affects the brain, while heart disease is very common in people over the age of 65. Other vital organs that can be susceptible to age-related illnesses include:
When it comes to protecting your major organs, you can’t go wrong with omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (like salmon) and chia seeds. Studies have shown that consuming omega-3s can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s (a form of dementia). They’re also known to be heart-healthy because they lower triglycerides. It’s also possible that omega-3s can decrease the risk of asthma in children and reduce the amount of fat in the liver.
Our hair and nails may not be vital, but our skin is a pretty important part of the body— in fact, the skin is the largest organ of the body. Hair, skin, and nails all become more brittle or sensitive as we age, resulting in hair loss, wrinkles, and dull nails, respectively.
Hair, skin, and nails need protein to remain strong, and collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It’s known to help strengthen brittle nails and hair strands, and make skin more elastic. Unfortunately, there aren’t many major food sources of collagen, which is why many people choose to take collagen supplements.
Of all the five senses, hearing and vision are probably the most notably affected by aging. All of our senses weaken as we age, but hearing and vision are much more prominent. Hearing loss is a natural part of aging because of the changes in our ear as we age, and so is vision (the lens of the eye gets stiffer with age, resulting in farsightedness).
However, certain things like excessive exposure to loud noises, can accelerate hearing loss by actually damaging the inner ear. This is why it’s important to protect your ears— and not just from loud noises. The same goes for the eyes: exposure to the sun and staring at a screen for long periods of time can cause eye problems early on. As far as nutrition goes, carotenoids (bright orange-colored foods) are beneficial to eye health, whereas magnesium (found in almonds, cashews, peanut butter, spinach) can help protect the ears against noise-related hearing loss.
Muscles, joints, and bones all tend to get weaker as we age. In fact, we reach our peak muscle and bone mass at age 30, meaning a decline starts soon after. Weaker muscles, joints, and bones make us more susceptible to sprains, strains, and broken bones— which is something that is especially concerning for the elderly. They’re more likely to slip and fall and become seriously injured, in which they should contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers if their accident was caused by negligence.
As far as nutrition goes, collagen is also great for increasing muscle mass (because it’s a protein), providing relief for joint pain, and preventing bone loss. It’s also helpful to incorporate calcium (almonds, dairy, sardines), vitamin D (salmon, sardines, tuna fish, and sunlight), and vitamin K (leafy green vegetables) in your diet. Calcium helps strengthen bones, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and vitamin K can help prevent calcium buildup.
So overall, healthy eating habits can help prevent or slow the progression of age-related illnesses. As always, healthy eating and exercise go hand-in-hand, so for optimal health you should try to incorporate both good eating habits and regular physical activity into your routine.
Keep in mind that some of these age-related conditions can also be affected by genetics, meaning that a healthy lifestyle may not always combat these symptoms. Still, a healthy diet can help slow the progression and not further agitate the condition. You should always consult with your doctor about your health— whether you have a condition or not.