For many people the term anti-aging only brings cosmetic treatments to mind. Nothing could be further from the truth, since true anti-aging attempts to slow down or even reverse the entire aging process. Cosmetic treatments can definitely serve as a part of the approach, but the ultimate aim of antiaging is to live longer, while maintaining good health. Aging is a fact of life, but most of us are not consciously aware that we start this process as soon as we are born. How we age and how quickly we age are influenced by many factors. Some of these factors are not in our control, but many are. So the good news is you can actually become an active participant in steering the aging process in your favor by following some basic advice.
The sooner you start to take control, the better the chances for success. So what could benefit you on your anti-aging journey?
Personalized testing is crucial for determining what approach is appropriate for you. Hormone analysis is one of the key anti-aging blood tests needed, since major hormones that are vital to good health tend to become depleted as we age. This also holds true for substances such as vitamin C, glutathione and CoQ10 – important gauges of oxidative stress. Hair analysis can play an important role in establishing toxic heavy metal accumulation (environmental pollution) – heavy metals can negatively impact many bodily processes and actually accelerate aging.
The average doctor will rarely perform any kind of hormone testing, because it is a given that many hormone levels will be down as a result of aging. And they presume that nothing could or should be done about it anyway. Anti-aging doctors, on the other hand, are interested in specific levels – not only for determining whether certain hormones need to be replaced, but also for using the levels as a gauge during the treatment phase. Additionally, hormone testing reveals whether hormones are actually balanced properly between themselves, since hormonal imbalance can also be a source of symptoms and disease.
Certain major hormones which are vital to good health, tend to become depleted as we age. This steady decrease starts to have a noticeable impact on our body, since this influences essential bodily processes. Lower hormone levels promote aging and can result in fatigue, decreased muscle strength, arthritis, osteoporosis, wrinkly skin, lower libido, vaginal dryness, greater disease susceptibility (caused by an ever weakening immune system), poor memory and more.
Bioidentical hormones can help tackle symptoms that arise from this depletion and even help slow down the entire aging process. Bioidentical hormones are hormones that have the same (identical) chemical composition as those produced by the body itself, unlike synthetic hormones that only look like the hormones that the body produces. This is why bioidentical hormones tend to be tolerated better and have far fewer side effects than synthetic hormones. For instance, many postmenopausal women suffer unnecessarily from hot flashes, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, as well as osteoporosis. It is not commonly known that a simple bioidentical hormone gel applied to the inside of the arms can bring tremendous relief and greatly improve short, as well as long term quality of life.
Excellent health can be maintained and a wide range of diseases improved or even cured by providing the body with optimum amounts of nutrients. Taking certain vitamins can help the body rejuvenate itself by replenishing nutritional substances which get depleted as we age. Dietary adjustments can also contribute to overall well-being.
Decrease in essential nutrients can be partially attributed to poor eating habits. A large part of the aging population is still actively working, always being in a hurry and under pressure. Easy meals are a convenient solution, but unfortunately “easy” often equates to “bad for you” – excess sugar, refined and processed foods are common examples. And let us not forget the growing population of retirees who tend to eat poorly. Either they cannot afford to eat good food, or they are just too sick or tired to bother preparing meals with fresh products – many have to rely on packaged or poorly prepared institutional meals.
Additionally, just living in our modern world takes its toll: environmental pollution as well as stress require greater amounts of anti-oxidants. Diet alone is not going to do the job. But adding a selection of targeted food supplements can make the difference.
Epigenetics and Anti-aging
The science of Epigenetics has been around for quite some time. But more recently, it has progressed into an exciting new field of disease treatment and prevention.
Genetics is the study of heredity – our DNA. And DNA is made up of genes. Epigenetics is a branch of genetics that studies the chemical reactions that switch certain genes in the DNA on and off. Changes in genes can cause disease – or prevent them. Advanced studies show that these changes can be influenced by lifestyle (smoking, diet, chemical exposure, to name a few). Interestingly, gene changes can happen quickly, opening up possibilities for short-term positive adjustments in gene function with long-term positive effects. This is anti-aging at its best!
Aging on the inside goes hand in hand with aging on the outside. Most of us do not notice that we are showing signs of aging until we realize that we no longer come across to others the way we think we should. Because having a tired, worn look doesn’t necessarily reflect our abilities to think and act. But unfortunately, research has shown that many people tend to form their first impression about you in less than 5 seconds. This is purely a reaction to how you look, and does not necessarily reflect your true self – youthful, vital and actively involved.
Aging is most noticeable in the face – our skin and bone structure tend to alter dramatically as time passes. Not only do the bones in the skull shrink, but skin texture changes, pigment spots appear and the skin loses elasticity and volume, making us look older. Since the face is our calling card, hiding it is not really an option. Simple, non-invasive medical cosmetic treatments such as peelings, injectables (botox, fillers), cosmeceuticals and food supplements can help restore certain aspects of that youthful look, which covertly melts away with time. Realistically speaking, you do not need to look like a movie star. However, sometimes correcting small details with an easy medical cosmetic procedure can make a great difference in boosting your self-confidence and positively influence the way others react.
Aging is a fact of life and can be influenced by many factors. Taking proactive anti-aging steps – personalized testing, use of bioidentical hormones, nutritional adjustment, epigenetic intervention and medical cosmetic treatments – can help you steer the aging process in a favorable direction, which can result in better health and a longer, productive life.
Written by: Lydia Boeken, MD
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