Aging will cause inevitable changes in your body. And there is no way to stop the aging process completely. You can slow it down but you cannot stop it completely. This aging process affects all the tissues of the human body. No part is left out. The effects of aging on tissues include all the changes that occur in the cells as well as in their extracellular materials. The major change that your body cells would experience as you grow older is that they will not divide as quickly as they used to. By the time the rate of cell death outruns the rate of cell division, the full-blown effects of aging become visible.
Aside from your cells, the aging process also affects cellular and extracellular elements. For instance, the structure of collagen fibers in your body would become increasingly irregular in structure as you age. These fibers may increase in number, but they would decrease in quality. As a result of this, all the connective tissues in your body would become more fragile and less flexible. This would affect your ligaments, tendons, and all connective tissues since they have an abundance of collagen in them. In addition to the change in flexibility and fragility, your connective tissue also experiences a change in elasticity. These three are mostly responsible for some of the typical symptoms of aging, including skin wrinkling, bone fragility, and so on.
An Overview of the Tissues in Your Body
There are various types of cell in every living tissue. However, the structures of these cells are very similar. So when you take a given tissue, what you will find is similar cells arranged in layers. These cells assemble in the tissue to carry out a specific function.
While cells are of various types, tissues are of only 4 basic types. They are as follows:
1. Connective tissue
These tissues support other tissues in your body. Another function of connective tissues is to connect (bind) the tissues that make up an organ together. They provide structure and support to your skin as well as internal organs. Examples of connective tissues include ligaments, bone, tendons, lymph tissues, and blood.
2. Epithelial tissue
These are the tissues that provide a covering for the body layers that lie deep within. They cover the skin. They also cover the linings of all the internal passages of the body like those of the GI system, respiratory system, etc.
We all know what muscles do. But you may not know that they are divided into three types. First, we have striated muscles, which are the muscles that you can move voluntarily. They include the muscles that aid locomotion (the movement of your skeleton to carry you from place to place)
The second type is the smooth muscles. These are the muscles that you cannot control voluntarily. This is why some people call them involuntary muscles. They include the muscles that control breathing, the muscles of your stomach.
Finally, we have cardiac muscle. The cardiac muscle makes up most of your heart wall. Technically speaking, they are also involuntary muscles.
4. Nerve tissue
Your nerve tissue consists of neurons (that is, nerve cells). These neurons help to transfer nerve impulses (messages) from one part of the body to other parts. Your brain and spinal cord are made up of nerve tissue. The same goes for your peripheral nerves too.
The Effects of Aging on Tissues
Every organ in your body is an assembly of tissues. So when organs begin to either fail or become frail in old age, it is because of the effects of aging in the component tissues. As you grow older, every vital organ in your body would lose some of their functions due to these effects of aging.
Meanwhile, organs make up body systems. So the effects of aging would cascade to the systemic level. So then, aging affects cells and extracellular elements, thus causing tissue changes. Tissue changes, in turn, affect the organs of the body. This, in turn, affects the overall function of body systems.
The process is quite complex, but we will explain it with a sequence that you can easily relate to. We mentioned earlier that the connective tissues in your body become less elastic and less flexible with age. These cause changes to occur in your connective tissues.
These changes result in stiffening of the connective tissues. With less flexibility and less elasticity, the tissue becomes more rigid and stiff. Consequently, the organs of your body, your airways, and even blood vessels may become more rigid.
This rigidity, in turn, affects epithelial tissues. They cause changes in the membrane of cells; these membranes are usually lined by epithelia. The result of the changes is that many cells and tissues become less permeable to nutrients and oxygen.
More so, it becomes more difficult for the tissues to remove waste products like carbon dioxide and others. So, as your tissues continue to age, one thing that happens is the buildup of waste products in them.
There is usually a collection of lipofuscin (A brown fatty pigment) in a lot of aging tissues. Lots of other wastes and fatty substances usually build up too. The buildup of fatty substances would make certain tissues to become nodular (lumpy).
More so, when there is no adequate absorption of nutrients, the tissues begin to lose mass. Experts usually call this atrophy. This, in turn, leads to a gradual loss of function. Most times, you would not immediately notice these changes until they become quite significant.
Why It Takes Time to Notice the Effects of Aging
You may be amazed to know that some of the changes related to aging start as early as between the age of 25 and 30. However, most people do not notice any signs of aging until they are aged 40, 50 and upwards.
One reason for this is that our body is equipped to function about 10 times more than we usually would need. So when the deterioration that comes with aging begins, we would not notice because we can still do all that we need to do.
The first place where people notice the effects of aging on tissues is when they begin to exert themselves or when they are exposed to body stressors and extra workload. They find that it becomes increasingly difficult to cope. But then, with a good diet and a healthy lifestyle, you can significantly slow down the effects of aging.