The physical strength and health of a person never remains constant. At a certain stage, growth rate and development of the body is very fast while in other stages it becomes slow or even arrested. Sometimes a condition arises when, instead of development, the body starts decaying. The same is the condition of physical strength in the body. At various levels of age, strength of the body also changes. On this basis, human life is divided into four stages:
1 There is continuous development of the body up to the age of 20 years. In this phase body tissues grow and generate very fast. The agni or enzymes present in the cells of these tissues provide quick nutrition to the tissues. They contain sufficient nutritive substances and favorable environment within them, which then facilitates quick development of dhatus and this also hastens their formation. This way, growth and development of the body is very quick.
2 From 20 to 40 years the number of cells in the tissues and their properties increases but their multiplication and growth intensity is not as fast as it had been up to 20 years. In this phase there is an increase in the wisdom and experience of a person, the area of work expands a lot. Initially life is not bound by any responsibility; it is restricted only by oneself. The only work is to gather knowledge. After 20-24 years, on the completion of there education, a person is inspired to move ahead in life and earn. This is the phase of life where a person has to sensibly decide about their career pathway. There is enthusiasm and excitement, but simultaneously ego and ambition start dominating.
A person becomes more constructive, more anxious for the accumulation of new objects, as a result of which life becomes more stressful and burdensome. Another important event at this stage of life is marriage that results in responsibility towards a person’s life partner and children, which becomes a necessary duty that should be handled carefully. This is also the age to fulfill sexual desires. This is the age to gain strength, health, energy and It is also the time for one to fulfill all responsibilities properly, whether on emotional grounds, mutual relationship between a male and a female, responsibility towards society, the family or the nation. This is the time to sustain health by preserving the semen or sukra dhatu, which is a strength-promoting factor. At this stage of life one must keep a check over sexual indulgence and balance physical, mental and intellectual development to maintain complete health and good working ability.
3 Life between 41 to 65 years of age is the stage of stability. Growth and development becomes constant at this age, which means health remains constant during this period. This is possible only with a nutritious and balanced diet, by keeping away mental stress and anxiety, and by following a daily and seasonal routine, diet and lifestyle as recommended in Ayurveda, taking into consideration the compatibility of food and other requirements of the body. Otherwise, one is not likely to maintain even normal health. The slightest carelessness in habits can take a serious toll on health.
Generally, in this phase of life, one is occupied with mental ideology and thoughts, and deeds in diverse fields. The wisdom to make an appropriate decision is at its peak. Deviation from the ideal path, instability in mental thoughts and activities may disturb sleep, destroy peace and one loses the physical, mental and spiritual power to work. It is necessary to be logical, careful and patient while undergoing physical and sexual activities in this phase of life. Otherwise, body strength starts declining from this age onwards. The signs of old age such as wrinkles on the face, gray hair and baldness start appearing. Comparatively, there is reduction in the appetite, digestive power and productivity. Diet during this age should be decided keeping the above concerns in mind.
At this age, avoid exposure to severe winter, summer, rain and other weather changes as vulnerability to seasonal illnesses increases. Another feature of this age is excessive deposition of fat on different parts of the body, particularly the stomach or waist, neck, face, thighs, buttocks and limbs, resulting in obesity. This indicates a slowing of the metabolism in the body. There is reduction in the metabolic activity of the body. The energy generated in the body due to diet and other sources declines as compared to previous stages, where tissues were properly nourished due to complete digestion and metabolism. This clearly indicates that regulating diet and lifestyle is crucial to maintain good health until 65 years of age.
4 After reaching the age of 65 years, the aging phase of the human body begins. Despite all efforts, the body begins to show the signs of decay and degeneration. Symptoms and ill-effects of old age predominate. Digestive and metabolic power gets eroded. Formation of waste products increases and they start accumulating in the body. In spite of nutritive and balanced food and even a regulated life with all cautions and precautions, it may not help in preventing weakness or providing strength and energy. Several changes occur in the bone tissues. Calcium accumulation (calcification) in the bones increases. Synovial fluid in the joints starts drying causing rigidity and loss of elasticity, and a person becomes unable to move the joints freely and work independently. Therefore, in this age rheumatism, arthritis, osteo-arthritis, cervical spondylitis and other bone diseases occur. The nervous system slackens and weakens and does not work properly.
Memory loss occurs. The eyesight starts deteriorating and hearing is also impaired. The nerves and arteries lose their elasticity and tenderness. The heart, kidneys, liver, lungs and other vital organs of the body lose their original strength and efficiency. These changes result in high blood pressure, insomnia, enlargement of the prostate gland and many other problems. The pancreas become less capable of secreting enough insulin which may lead to diabetes. Fractures during this age take a longer time to heal as regeneration of bones becomes difficult. The eyesight is affected by cataract (opacity of lens). The gums become weak, resulting in looseness and falling of teeth. In brief, an individual at this age becomes progressively helpless physically and mentally. He requires care from his family and society.
So as to prevent oneself from being a burden to yourself and your family, and to prevent being driven to feel disinterest towards life, follow a regulated routine and try to stay exhilarated to lead a beautiful, delightful and glorious old age.