Label a product as anti aging and chances are it will go flying off the shelf. Our aging population is seeking ways to hang onto our mental, physical and emotional health. The relatively new specialty of Anti Aging medicine was born out of this desire. It may also be known and is synonymous with Age Management, Healthy Aging, or Longevity medicine.
Anti Aging is defined as a medical specialty that applies scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. The goal of Anti Aging Medicine is to prolong the healthy human lifespan (Emphasis on healthy). The goal is to add life to your years, not simply add years to your life.
Ronald Katz and Robert Goldman started the American Academy for Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine in the early 1990s. Age Management Medicine Group (Cenegenics) founded by Rick Merner is a rival organization. These are the two main organizations that are fueling the anti aging movement in medicine, not without controversy. Read this report from msnbc.
I will say that many physician converts to anti aging medicine arrive there through a pathway that includes dealing with their own health issues and finding their chosen profession falls short.
Anti Aging medicine comes primarily from a functional medicine approach, looking for the root causes of disease in the body and seeking to assist in the body’s ability to heal. Since aging is associated with increased disease, it is thought that aging can be altered by various methods to slow or interrupt the aging process. Since all our hormones decline with age, bio identical hormone therapy is an integral part of anti aging medicine. Looking at metabolic function and the state of our DNA and its ability to repair itself are part of an anti aging evaluation. An emphasis is placed on nutrition, exercise, and biomarkers to assess aging. Many tools exist and others are being developed to measure your “biological age” versus your chronological age. While many doctors also offer botox, lasers, dermal fillers, etc to improve and maintain a youthful appearance, anti aging is not synonymous with cosmetic procedures and not all practices offer this service. Research is under way in regenerative techniques like stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and organ replacement. Anti Aging medicine is an area of intense ongoing research looking for techniques and therapies to promote health and slow aging.
What can I do now?
Things that have been found to possibly reduce the incidence of chronic disease. In one study, not smoking, healthy weight, healthy diet, and exercise slashed the incidence of chronic disease by a startling 80%!
1. Don’t smoke and if you do, stop. This is the #1 factor in premature death.
2. Dietary modifications and lifestyle – What you put in your body matters. Follow a diet high in fresh vegetables and colorful fruits high in antioxidants and fiber. Avoid “dead” foods that come out of a box. Consume alcohol in moderation. Eat organic. It matters.
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Not too much, not too little. Being underweight can increase mortality even more than obesity so 10 extra pounds is probably not going to be a breaking point.
4. Healthy mind makes for a healthy body. As Deepak Chopra says, “Your thoughts control your life”. Studies have shown that being calm and organized as opposed to anxious, angry, and fearful is associated with longevity. People who have friends and a good social support system live longer. Married people live longer. Meditation can help manage a stressful life and promote healthy thoughts and brain function.
5. 6-8 hours of sleep a night is essential. The best time to sleep is between the hours of 10pm and 6 am as this follows the body’s natural circadian rhythms.
6. Reduce stress through changes in your lifestyle and meditation.
New testing to determine your biological vs. your chronological age is becoming available but is not yet mainstream. Tests to measure the length of your telomeres as a new biological marker for how well one is aging are now available. Lots of interest but nothing to bet the farm on for this therapy yet. So far probably most benefit is to those who are marketing and selling the product.
People who exercise regularly and/or meditate were shown, on average, to have telomere lengths comparable to persons 10 years younger than their sedentary and non-meditating counterparts.
If you really want to change your health and slow the aging process, consider seeing a doctor who is trained in anti aging medicine. A customized protocol to address your needs and desires can be developed just for you.