Feel no pain?
You may start to notice that your sense of touch isn’t as finely tuned as it used to be. Dietary deficiencies,circulation problems and the normal effects of ageing on your nervous system may all play a part in this. You may be unable to sense pain or extreme temperatures as quickly as when you were younger. That makes you more vulnerable to heatstroke, frostbite and burns. So take extra care in extreme weather and lower the temperature of your shower.
Was that garlic or onion?
You may or may not have a problem with your ability to taste and smell, although the number of taste buds you have will definitely decrease and the nerve endings in your nose may become less sensitive. Your sense of taste is related to your sense of smell, this is because your brain interprets signals from both to determine flavours. If either sense is impaired, it may dull your appetite and prevent you from getting all the nutrients you need. You may also find yourself over-salting your food.
As you age, you might have some thickening and stiffening of your heart valves, heart walls and arteries, as well as a slowing of your heart rate, and perhaps some enlargement of the heart. The most common risk is that fatty deposits may accumulate on the inside of your coronary arteries, gradually hardening and narrowing the arteries so that your heart has to work harder to pump blood. This condition, called arteriosclerosis, can result in insufficient blood flow to the heart, leading to temporary chest pain, or angina. Bits of plaque may break off and block an artery, causing a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and smoking exacerbate the condition.
The good news? Unless you suffer from heart disease, your ticker can serve you nearly as well into your seventies, eighties or nineties as it did in your twenties.
Give me air
Like your heart, your lungs can function normally until you are quite old. However, the lungs, chest wall and diaphragm become less elastic, so you may not be able to take in as much oxygen as when you were younger. But you might not even notice this except when you exercise or travel to high altitudes.
Digestion takes slightly longer as you get older, but otherwise it, too, remains largely unchanged. You will probably have a slight decrease in digestive enzymes, which means that a few nutrients, especially vitamin B12 and vitamin C, won’t be fully absorbed from food. Your liver will take longer to metabolise drugs and alcohol. This means you’ll feel the effects of both sooner.
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