BY DR. JEFF CLARK, TRUE HEALTH MEDICINE PC
In this age of political polarization, are there really people who are actually against people getting older – anti-aging?
If you fell for that line, let me explain the concept of “anti-aging.” It is the idea that you can slow, stop, or even reverse the natural aging process that all humans endure as they add on the years. A lot of what is promoted as anti-aging is in fact cosmetic beauty treatments that make a person “look” younger than they actually are.
This article is not a rant against laser skin treatments or any of the many other things that are done for cosmetic beauty. Instead, I want to point out what should be obvious – that approach to anti-aging is only skin-deep. Aging is a process that affects every part, tissue, and cell of our bodies. If you have heard the phrase “beauty starts on the inside” it is certainly true when it comes to anti-aging strategies. The definition of anti-aging strategies should always include the rate of aging in every cell of the body. The goal should be to not only look good, but to live long, and enjoy physical happiness at every age.
The aging process continues to be a mystery to science with a number of different theories and areas of study. Right now science is especially interested in the length of the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. Every time a cell divides these shorten and eventually, with age, they get too short for a cell to ever divide again. At that point we become increasingly stuck with old cells unable to replace themselves. Of course the focus of science is also to find a miracle drug to address that shortening without causing other problems like cancer. While we keep an eye on that, there are things we can do now to slow the debilitating aspects of aging, reduce our risk of serious illness, and consequently support our own ageless handsomeness and beauty.
Habits and conditions that accelerate the rate of apparent aging as well as make us susceptible to serious illness are well known. Certain drugs and medications increase our rate of aging. So do habits like tobacco smoking and excessive use of alcohol. Central obesity, and lack of exercise combine to rapidly age us from the inside out.
Excess abdominal fat ages us through inflammation processes, high blood sugars, and consequently poor antioxidant enzyme status. Excessive, obsessive exercise will also increase our rate of aging by increasing the rate of oxidative stress in our cells and tissues. Moderate and consistent is the balancing point for exercise. Humans are poorly designed to be couch potatoes, but we are also subject to hastened degeneration from overuse.
Malnutrition, which is common even when someone appears well fed, also leads to a poor functioning of our body’s antioxidant enzymes. Those enzymes are our truly first line of defense against all kinds of illness, including our apparent rate of aging.
Hormone statuses affect our rate of aging by both under and over stimulating tissues. Depletion of testosterone promotes loss of muscle mass and tone in men and women, along with loss of motivation and sex drive. Loss of estrogen and progesterone in women leads to loss of tissue tone in breasts, skin and genitals, causing wrinkles, sagging and uncomfortable dryness, along with insomnia and loss of bone mass. Too much ongoing stress and the hormones released by that stress contribute to premature aging and fatigue.
We all have an expiration date. At the same time there are choices we can each make, strategies that we can follow, to increase our individual shelf life. Can aging be truly rolled backwards? That brings me to a final saying that has been around for a very long time – “you are as old as you feel.” At our clinic we have by now helped many people to feel a lot younger than they did before. This is accomplished by addressing all that makes us feel, and consequently seem, older than we are or need to be.
Come see us to start from the inside out an anti-aging, feel good, active, happy, normal weight, healthy lifestyle plan for 2017.
Dr. Jeff Clark is a naturopathic physician with True Health Medicine, PC, a group practice in Tualatin serving the whole family with naturopathic primary care and acupuncture. The clinic is located at 8555 SW Tualatin Rd, 503-691-0901.