Not feeling like yourself anymore? Are you perhaps feeling fat, flabby, flaky, foggy, fatigued or forgetful? When you go doctors, they say you’re stressed, getting old or this is “normal for your age.” You may be prescribed some medication with side effects that are scarier than the symptoms. You ask yourself, “Does it really have to be this way?” There is a better way to combat the signs and symptoms of aging, illness and degenerative disease..
What’s your biological age?
How old are you ….. really? The answers lie with Anti Aging Medicine. How do you know where you stand? First determine your biological age.
Everyone ages at a different rate and some parts of your body may be aging quicker than others. Your biological age or how you are actually functioning can be years younger or older than your actual chronological age. There are many different ways to determine biological age. Some are lifestyle based and others are disease or symptom based. If you have signs and symptoms of aging – you are. The question is are you aging faster or slower than people your age and what body part or parts are aging the quickest. While not a complete list, some of the signs and symptoms of aging of various organs are as follows:
- Bones: osteoporosis, fracture easily, bone spurs, arthritis
- Brain: forgetful, tremors, poor attention or decision making
- Eyes: cataracts, difficulty reading, glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes
- Gastrointestinal: constipation, irritable bowel, ulcers, reflux
- Heart: chest pain, heart attack, irregular rhythm, palpitations, valve disease
- Hormones: mood swings, low energy, fibroids, loss of erection, low libido
- Lungs: shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing
- Metabolism: weight gain (especially around the middle), increased body fat, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, lack of energy
- Muscles: lack of strength and endurance, loss of muscle mass, weakness
- Neurological: numbness, tingling, shooting pain, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia
- Skin: wrinkled, dry, thin, sagging, brown spots
- Vascular system: plaque in arteries, peripheral vascular disease with pain when walking, high blood pressure
Do you have 4 or more of the signs or symptoms on the list? Do something before it’s too late. You may be aging fast and a setup for a serious disease or illness.
How Do You Age or Anti Age?
Aging is a natural process. We get rusty, crusty, fat and inflamed, the hormones that build us up decline, the hormones that break us down rise, our nervous system doesn’t respond as well, telomeres shorten and this can be a gradual or fast process.
Just as a car body rusts and rots away with exposure to the elements. It’s not a pretty picture when it happens in our bodies. Rusting is oxidation. Oxidation occurs when we eat, sleep, drink, exercise and sleep. There is no escaping this. It’s rust. It makes us deteriorate and unable to repair cell damage that happens on a daily basis. We need sufficient anti oxidants to prevent ‘rust” or oxidation. The most obvious sign of oxidation is wrinkling. If you are wrinkled on the outside, you are definitively wrinkling, oxidizing and “rusting away” on the inside. An anti aging strategy is to have plenty of anti oxidant fruits and vegetables and take some strategic supplements.
If any of you sugar coated a ham or glazed meats and baked or grilled them, you will notice a nice crust formed. This is sugar binding to protein otherwise known as glycation. This changes the structure and function of protein. When you eat a high carbohydrate meal, sugar, starch or highly processed foods with carbohydrate, it raises your blood sugar. Anything that is not burned will circulate through your system and bind to protein. Since we are 98.6 degrees, this bakes the sugar and changes the structure and function of the protein just like a honey-coated ham. Eating highly processed foods with a high glycemic index makes you crusty, just like the sugar coated ham. An obvious sign of this is a cataract. This can occur anywhere in your body such as your brain, causing dementia, your kidneys causing loss of protein, your nerves causing numbness and tingling and everywhere else in your body were there is protein. An anti aging strategy is to curb your carbohydrate loads. Eat unprocessed food with a low glycemic index that is, the rate of rise of blood sugar.
Fat and Inflamed
Having excess fat is more harmful than just not looking good or fitting into your pants. Fat releases inflammatory cytokines. These are signaling molecules. Food, toxins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and other factors also cause inflammation. You don’t have to be fat to be inflamed; yet inflammation can make it hard to lose weight. Inflammation is fire or burning. It accelerates aging when out of control. It can be a slow, smoldering burn or a fast and furious fire. Your body can only speak to you in symptoms such as pain, lack of energy, mood swings and other vague symptoms. You may recognize inflammation by names that end in “itis” such as arthritis, gastritis, gingivitis, etc. It is at the root cause of most chronic, degenerative diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and others. Pain or illness usually has inflammation as the source. An anti aging strategy is to forgo the fats that are saturated such as meat, dairy, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, trans fats and many grains and food allergens. Eat unsaturated fats that are not solid at room temperature such as fish, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados and any of their oils.
Are your hormones harmonized?
It’s ironic that as we age, the hormones that keep us young and healthy get lower and those that age us and break us down get higher. You may be feeling the effects if you have less energy, strength and endurance, are gaining weight, losing hair and have low sex drive, mood swings and get anxious, depressed, irritable and forgetful. Women can experience irregular and heavy periods and fibroids during perimenopause and then hot flashes, night sweats, dryness, and sagging skin when they become menopausal. Men get listless, lose their ambition and energy, strength and libido, among other things, when they enter mid life. These are just some of the signs and symptoms that your hormones are out of balance. Hormones control everything and you can have some control over them by living a healthy lifestyle. What you eat, drink, think, how much you sleep and how much you exercise all affect your hormones. However, when all else fails, an anti aging strategy is to replenish your hormones with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. This means they are the same chemical structure as your own hormones.
How can you live a long life?
In order to regenerate and repair, our cells have to divide. One of the theories on aging is that once telomeres become too short, cells can no longer divide and aging is accelerated. Telomeres are tips at the end of your DNA strands. Just like the tips on shoelaces. Once they are gone, the DNA strands are no longer protected; they “fray” and cells stop dividing. As a cell ages, telomeres get shorter and shorter and the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die. Telemore length is a window into your biological age. The length can be measured through a simple blood test. An anti aging strategy to keep telomeres long is to decrease inflammation, glycation and oxidation, reduce physical, emotional and physiologic stress, and take targeted supplements.
Simple Anti Aging Strategies
Now that you know why you age, there are simple strategies to stop a rapid decline. Start with the basics – Eat Healthy, sufficient sleep and exercise and manage stress.
- Slow oxidation with eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables should be varied and eaten in every color of the rainbow.
- Have 5-8 servings of non starchy vegetables a day such as green leafy and cruciferous vegetables. Lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are nutrient dense, low in calories and have many health benefits.
- Eat 1-2 servings of low glycemic fruits a day such as apples, pears, berries and kiwi.Take a multivitamin and mineral formula with natural antioxidant blends of mixed carotenoids, mixed tocopherols and vitamin C. The synthetic forms of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and beta carotene and Vitamin E (d alpha tocopherol) may increase your risk of cancer.
- Add other antioxidants – N acetyle cysteine makes glutathione, the master antioxidant which maximizes the effect of the other antioxidants Vitamins C, and E and CoQ10. Add alpha lipoic acid because it is both water and fat soluble and recycles other antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E and glutathione. It offers protection both inside and outside your cells.
- Stop glycation with a low glycemic diet.Eat more whole, unprocessed foods that are low in sugar and starch as well as sugar substitutes that end in “tol or “ose”
- Read the labels. Food may be marketed as healthy but contain a lot of sugar. Energy bars, juices and other health foods may be making you crusty due to high loads of sugar. Try to have less than 40 grams of sugar a day, even less if you want to lose weight. To burn belly fat, eat less than 20 grams a day.
- Get familiar with the glycemic index of foods. Tropical fruits such as bananas, melons, pineapple, papaya, and mango while nutritious have a high sugar content and glycemic index as do starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes, winter squash and parsnips.
- Mix carbohydrates with protein and fat to slow absorption of sugar and starch.
- Fight the fire of inflammation with an anti inflammatory diet.
- Eat less saturated fats that are solid at room temperature such as meat, dairy, trans fats, hydrogenated oils.
- Eat more anti inflammatory fats that flow, that is anything that can be made into an oil such as fish, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and any of their oils.
- Avoid food allergens. Many foods are hard to break down and can cause food sensitivities that are technically not allergies. The most common are dairy, eggs, peanuts, sugar, soy, wheat and anything with gluten in it.
- Take a high quality fish oil – look for the EPA/DHA content, which is the active ingredient and be sure it is in the natural triglyceride form.
- Balance your hormones
- Manage your stress with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer and/or reframing situations. This will lower the stress hormone cortisol that breaks you down.
- Avoid hormone disruptors in the environment such as BPA’s in plastics, herbicides, pesticides, hormone treated meat, dairy and poultry and phthalates and parabens found in personal care products and cosmetics.
- Balance with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy if your symptoms are not controlled with lifestyle.
- Keep your telomeres long
- All of the above mentioned advice
- Dietary calorie restriction
- Supplement with resveratrol and pterostilbene
- Maintain ideal weight
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep 6-8 hours
- Eliminate toxins such as tobacco and environmental chemicals
- Control cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and homocysteine
- Take supplements to assure you are nutritionally sound
The state of your health and how you are aging can be measured and monitored. Studies show that behavior is more readily and easily modified if it is measured and monitored. Consult with a physician who understands anti aging medicine. Have your anti aging physician measure your markers of oxidation, inflammation and glycation.
Get a complete hormone panel done. This should include estrogen (for men as well as women), progesterone, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (for women as well as men), DHEA otherwise known as dehydroepiandrosterone, a 4 point cortisol test in saliva and a thyroid panel that includes TSH, free T 3 (triiodothyronine), free T4, and thyroid antibiodies such as anti TPO and anti thyroglobulin.
Telomere length can be easily measured in blood. Most anti aging or functional medicine physicians have access to specialty labs that can measure this as well as other markers of health or illness.
Find out how old or young you really are. Knowing and understanding the factors that age you or anti age you can motivate you to adopt the lifestyle that can make you 10 or more years younger. Live Vibrantly!