The Baby Boomer's Anti Aging Program
As baby boomers we not only want to look good, we also want to feel good. And "good' usually means "young". We see our elderly parents suffer, and we want to avoid getting old as much as we want to avoid owning the wrong stocks. To this end, we buy exercise equipment and gym memberships, health and organic foods - all in a desperate attempt to stay looking and feeling good. Our body is made up of trillions cells. Aging starts when cell death starts. An effective anti-aging program must therefore address the cell as the starting point. If we can defer cell death, we are in effect deferring aging.
Only a century ago, the average life expectancy was 42 years. Today, it has almost doubled. This is largely due to advances in medicine and technology. The definition of aging as a natural course of events of which nothing can be done has passed. Today we see healthy and active seniors well into their 90s. There are over 70,000 centenarians in U.S.A. alone and this number is expected to double in the next 5-10 years. In fact, those over 85 years old represent the fastest growing segment of the population in the world.
Those familiar with anti-aging medicine and research now define aging as nothing more than a disease state characterized by 3 phases:
Most hormone levels start to decrease. Growth hormone level, for example, has already fallen approximately 14% by age 35. Environmental pollution, poor diet, and stress cause free radical formation and cellular damage not visible to the naked eye. Outwardly, there are few clinical symptoms. While you may look and feel good, internal cellular damage is already happening. Like cancer in its early stages of development, there are no detectable signs and symptoms by conventional standards. You look and feel "normal," but in reality you are in the sub-clinical phase of this disease, whether you like it or not.
By age 45, production of many hormones have fallen by more than 25%, and biomarkers are beginning to show signs of aging. Clinical symptoms such as decreased visual acuity, graying of the hair, increased pigmenting of the skin, and decreased strength and energy are making their presence felt on the outside. On the inside, cellular damage by free radical continues, where the rate of damage depends on your lifestyle. If not controlled or slowed, mutational changes may lead to cancer.
Most hormone production continues to decline, including DHEA, Melatonin, growth hormone, and male and female sexual hormones. The rate of decline accelerates as we get older until age 70 or thereabouts. Outwardly, early signs and symptoms of aging seen during the transition phase worsen. The skin is further dehydrated and thinned as collagen fibers break down. We call these irreversible lines "wrinkles." Musculo-skeletal joint degeneration becomes painfully obvious as arthritis sets in. Fatigue and loss of energy follow us everywhere. Chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes became very apparent as organs begin to fail. Inwardly, as our cells succumb to assaults, mutation and cancer can arise. Cancer has now overtaken heart disease as the number one cause of death.
How do we make sure our cells stay healthy from within? Exercising and following a healthy diet are good starters. However, cutting edge science tells us there is more. There are actually 5 areas to a successful anti-aging program. These 5 areas practiced together can unquestionably help us baby boomers fulfill our passion to defy the effects of time.
- Precision Anti-Aging Exercise
- Balanced Anti-Aging Diet
- Anti-Aging Stress Reduction Techniques
- Natural Hormone Enhancement
- Optimal Anti-Aging Supplementation
People who exercise know that they will be stronger and healthier. What people may not realize is that exercise can also make you younger.
Precision Anti-Aging exercises incorporate 3 important components:
- Flexibility Training for our joints.
- Cardiovascular Training for our heart.
- Strength Training for our muscles.
By the time that you are 60, you may have lost up to half your muscular strength, half of your lung capacity, and a good percentage of bone density that accompanies aging. By incorporating a precision anti-exercise program, you can prevent these losses. Have you ever shook the hand of a 65 or 70 year-old person? They have no grip strength and are so frail that you may be worried that shaking their hand will hurt them. Exercise can help maintain that strength for a firm hand shake.
How do strength training and aerobic exercises exhibit anti-aging effects? They stimulate the body to produce growth hormone , a hormone that has been shown to reverse the aging process and rejuvenate aged cells. Stretching exercises help to keep your body lithe and limber enabling you to twist and turn like a young person, without backache or other pain. A good aerobic workout stresses and strengthens the heart.
In addition, there are many cross benefits. Properly performed, strength-training also maintains and builds muscle mass. Since muscle is more metabolically active than fat (meaning that muscle burns more calories than fat), your metabolism will increase and you will ultimately burn more fat.
Aerobic exercise improves your lung capacity. Keeping your aerobic exercise intensity to no more than 65% to 70% of your maximum heart rate will avoid over oxidation. Your personal target heart rate is determined by subtracting your age in years from 220 and multiplying the result by 0.65 or 0.70 to give you 65% or 70% of your maximum heart rate. Keep your heart rate at this level for 20 continuous minutes at least 3 times a week.
The acronym SAD for the Standard American Diet could not be more appropriate. The high fat, high sugar, and high salt combination of the average diet has negatively affected our brain and organs so much that our body has a hard time recognizing what's good and what's not.
The problem with most diets is that they are so extreme that they are impossible to follow for more than a short time. You will be delighted to know that together with your commitment, the Anti-Aging diet is safe, enjoyable, and will help you reach or maintain your anti-aging weight, which is 5-10% less than your ideal body weight. For men, the ideal body weight is 106 lbs for the first 5 feet of your height, plus 6 lbs for every in inch after that. Ladies, your ideal body weight is 100 lbs for the first 5 feet of your height, plus 5 lbs for every inch more.
The general rule of thumb is that a balanced anti-aging diet should be comprised of a 50/25/25 ratio of carbohydrate, protein, fat. The carbohydrate should be in the form of fruits and vegetables. Protein should preferably be from plant sources such as beans and tofu, with maximum one-third from animal sources like meat. Fat (mostly poly and mono-unsaturated) should come from olive oil and nuts rather
Another tip is to not eat when you're not hungry. 5-6 small meals throughout the day are better than 1-3 big meals per day. If you really crave food during the period your stomach is adjusting to smaller meals, eat a piece of fresh fruit. Avoid refined sugar, which can be found in many junk foods including donuts and soft drinks. As you may not be aware of, refined sugar is the worst enemy in your fight against aging as it increases the production of cortisol, an age-inducing hormone.
Stress is a "silent Killer." Why? Stress increases the levels of cortisol production in your body, which accelerates the aging process.
Most stress relief modalities fall into 3 broad categories: (1) Mental, (2) Physical or (3) Functional.
Mental activities for stress reduction include music, reading, meditation, singing, praying etc. Physical activities include exercise and sports, Taisho, Yoga, Tai kwon do, bicycling, window shopping, walking, swimming etc. Functional style activities include massage, Qigong and hydro-therapy.
These methods can be mixed and matched. Find out that works best for you and make stress reduction a habit.
One of the most important anti-aging hormones is growth hormone. For some reason yet to be discovered, growth hormone release falls off after we turn 25 years old, dropping at a rate of 10%- 15% every decade thereafter. The aging process begins
Only 1 out of every 10,000 (0.01%) people carries the longevity gene in his or her chromosome. These fortunate few have a 20 year longer lifespan than the rest of population. They will become centenarians (live to 100) regardless of their lifestyle, generally speaking. The remaining 99.99% of us have to deal with the deterioration of our bodies as a result of declining hormonal health as we age.
Changes from the diminished output of growth hormone start to become visible as early as your 35th birthday. By age 45, the wrinkles are making their mark and the skin is noticeably thinner along with the hair, which is also getting more gray. The nails are brittle, the muscles are weak, the breath is short, and the libido, what's that? The prostate hypertrophies and the trips to the bathroom at night increase.
The quick way to reverse the downward slide is by human growth hormone injections. However, injections must be monitored by a physician. As with any hormone, growth hormone can be fatal if administered without the proper precautions.
Is there a natural way of replacing our growth hormone? Many naturally oriented physicians practicing anti-aging medicine believe so. It is done not by replacing the hormone, but by stimulating your very own pituitary gland to naturally increase the release of hGH. Substances which stimulate the pituitary gland in this manner are called secretagogues. Secretagogues are all natural and side effects are rare. The results, while not as dramatic as injections, have been very encouraging. Replenishment of growth hormone from a deficient state can lead to improved sex life, skin tone, and help to balance other hormones in the body including testosterone, DHEA, melatonin, pregnenolone, and progesterone.
The American diet is deficient in many essential nutrients, leading ultimate to premature death that results from degenerative diseases.
Even if we follow a healthy diet, our way of farming has depleted the soil of many essential minerals. Furthermore, contemporary farming technology has yielded nicer looking produce by using pesticides, herbicides, artificial soils and genetic manipulation. But this is accomplished at the cost of nutrition. When we add the effects of environmental pollution, and the use of refined sugar, high fat (especially trans-fat), high simple sugars, and high salt in our fast-food and manufactured products, our need for proper supplementation is magnified. To get the amount of minerals, vitamins and phyto-chemicals necessary for anti-aging effects, we often need to increase our food intake by 4 to 10 times. For example, a 5,000 calorie diet is needed just to obtain 400 I.U. of Vitamin E. Diet alone is therefore not a tool we can rely on solely for our body to receive optimum nutrients.
For this reason, supplementation is a cornerstone and key pillar of an effective anti-aging program.
There is no single "magic bullet " supplement that can reverse aging. However, we do know that combining supplements in a "cocktail" type formulation may be the best as the supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, nutritional factors, enzymes, and antioxidants work synergistically with each other.
It should be customized for your age, sex, body rhythm, and optimum intake to aggressively deter the three phases of aging.
It should help to reverse or rejuvenate the aged body in a mild manner, optimize organ function, and lower homocysteine, a major factor in heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.
It should contain antioxidants to help prevent uncontrolled mutation, and to combat the free radicals directly linked to the deterioration of the immune system and cancer, fatigue and weakness of muscles. It also contains compounds that maintain the proper functioning of the kidneys, pancreas, bladder and liver and stimulate the release of natural growth hormone and help to prevent catabolism.
It should contain all the elements needed to help cellular and biological immune function with inflammation suppression. These elements also prevent the depletion of hormone such as testosterone, which is very important for sexual function and libido both in men and women.
It should contain properties that act as metabolic and endocrine/hormonal balancers. This helps to control weight. It should specifically deal with problems associated with blood sugar levels, carbohydrate craving, bloating, and excessive gas production.
It should have properties to aid stress reduction and act as a mood balancer.
It should help to enhance sexual function. A formulation for men should have protection against prostate hypertrophy and cancer. The women's formulation should help balance the hormonal system from pre to peri to post menopausal state. It should also contain antioxidants in the optimum amount to fight cellular mutation that leads to cancer.
It should have ingredients designed to help moisturize the skin, bring back the luster of hair, promote healthy strong nails, and strengthen the bones.
Because many nutrients are water soluble and quickly excreted from the body, supplements that are in time-release form is preferred. To maintain the optimum blood level in our body, supplements should be taken twice a day - once in the morning with breakfast and once in the evening with dinner.
It should be as natural as possible and manufactured in an FDA licensed facility in accordance to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) guidelines.
Starting an anti-aging program begins with an evaluation of your current health and lifestyle needs. This can be done through an office visit with a physician specializing in anti-aging medicine. The typical consultation should include a complete history and physical examination. A qualified anti-aging physician will spend considerable time answering questions and explaining to you the science part behind an anti-aging program. It is important for you to understand exactly what you should do, how you should do it, and what you should expect after you embark on the program.
There are actually 5 areas to a successful anti-aging program. These 5 areas practiced together can unquestionably help us baby boomers fulfill our passion to defy the effects of time.
When you consult with an anti-aging specialist, it is important for you to take the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. This is especially critical as it relates to hormone enhancement and supplements due to the tremendous confusion among the public. Find out from your physician what is scientifically researched based and what is not. Embarking on an anti-aging program often involves a change of lifestyle. Those who are successful are usually well informed and are realistic in their goals.
Depending on your current state of heath, additional laboratory tests may be needed. A complete anti-aging work-up can cost thousands of dollars.
If you are in relatively good health and wish to embark on an anti-aging program without going through extensive testing, a good starting point is to practice the 5 pillars of anti-aging on your own.
© 2000 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.