Are you in your middle years or beyond? Have you already had a health scare? Perhaps your parents had a bad health outcome and you don’t want the same thing to happen to you. It doesn’t have to.
What is Anti-Aging Medicine?
Anti-Aging Medicine is about preventing and reversing the diseases that occur more commonly as we age.
“Aging” is a process that actually starts in our 30’s. That’s when the scales tip from being “anabolic” or in a state of building tissue, to being “catabolic”, or a state of breaking down tissue. Some sort of “disease” usually manifests by the time someone is in their 60’s and with life ending around age 80, from some sort of disease state.
Conditions commonly associated with aging are:
- Brain diseases such as dementia, the most common one being Alzheimer’s, and other neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s.
- Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, insulin resistance and diabetes
- General loss of function and vigor and the onset of frailty
- Sexual dysfunction
Because something is common, it does not mean that it’s “normal”. Although Alzheimer’s is prevalent in 50% of seniors in their 80’s, it is most definitely NOT normal aging. It, like most other chronic diseases, is related to lifestyle and environmental exposures.
Factors that can contribute to developing the diseases of aging include:
- Hormonal imbalances – the loss of protective hormones such as sex hormones and growth hormone, and an increase in stress hormones (cortisol) can lead to a catabolic state which means the body is in a state of decline. High insulin levels occur commonly and can stimulate the growth of cancers. The loss of growth hormone (GH) significantly impacts the decline seen with advancing age.
- Oxidative stress (that’s rusting on the inside)
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Toxic exposures
- Chronic and hidden infections
- Genetic vulnerability
As we get older, we take more “hits” to our well-being. Eventually, our bucket can overflow and disease manifests. All of the above risk factors can be screened for and acted on. Even knowing your genetic vulnerability is powerful. Genes are not destiny, they are merely our potential – we have a great deal of influence over how they are expressed. There’s a lot that can be done between the period that aging starts and disease begins… if we look for it and know what to do about it.
What is the point of a living a long life if you don’t have good health?
Lifespan is how many years one lives. Healthspan is how many of those years are spent in good health. While we are seeing lifespans increasing, we are also seeing healthspans decreasing. This is due to disease states, not normal aging.
Life expectancy pertains to how long we can expect to live while our potential lifespan is how long it’s possible to live. We are here for a limited time on earth. However, it’s not limited to the 80 years or so that is the average life expectancy. (Life expectancy used to be a lot shorter – that’s because people died more often of acute issues like trauma, infections and childbirth.)
In all living organisms, cells can only replicate a finite amount of times – that is what’s known as organism’s potential lifespan and it is estimated that for humans it is 120 years. Today, people die at around age 80 because of some chronic “disease state”, not because the full lifespan of their body’s cells has been reached and the cells can no longer replicate.
My mission is to help my patients get as close to their full lifespan as possible… to be healthy and vital… at 100!