Unfortunately, when people hear the term “Anti-aging Medicine”, most people immediately think of the external things done to look younger– cosmetic surgery, Botox, chemical peels, etc. The key word for these modalities is “look younger”. There are a variety of measures that can be utilized to successfully look AND feel younger with the wonderful side effect of being healthier and less prone to develop disease, including those we associate with aging – high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
In addition to helping with the symptoms associated with menopause, and the male version of hormone decline, BHRT offers many other significant health benefits. For both men and women, there is scientific evidence that BHRT will reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, heart disease, and osteoporosis. For men, it has also been proven to reduce deaths from all causes (we suspect the same is for women, it just hasn’t been proven yet). And of course, it slows the progression of aging, including appearance, improves libido, and gives one more “get up and go”.
There are some potential problems with BHRT, but most can be corrected if you are working with a health care provider knowledgeable with BHRT and if you are monitoring your hormone levels regularly. BHRT can help decrease the risk of cancer, but again, there is a slight risk of cancer if hormones are not monitored correctly. Women need to make sure their practitioner is knowledgeable in monitoring the estrogen quotient, the “2/16” ratio, estrone level, and 4-hyroxyestrone level. The best way to monitor these is a 24-hour urine and if they are out of whack, your risk of cancer is increased REGARDLESS if you do BHRT. There are things your practitioner can do to help you balance/lower those levels. For men, we know the risk of prostate cancer is higher with having low testosterone levels and if a male is converting testosterone to estrogen (very common in aging), creating a low “2/16” ratio. Another risk factor for men is a low androstanediol/DHT ratio.
Lower Inflammation in Your Body – Measure that C-Reactive Protein (CRP)!
CRP is a protein that the liver releases in response to stress and infection, i.e. inflammation. If this level is over 1.0, you have an increased risk of heart disease. When this level is high, it damages your blood vessels by hardening them. Damage to your circulation will progress aging as well as increase your risk of cancer, stroke, or heart attack.
CRP can be lowered by following the Mediterranean Diet guidelines – lean meats and vegetable fats, less saturated fats, lots of fruits and vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Eating more oily fish, taking fish oil supplements, vitamin E and vitamin C have all been proven to lower CRP levels.
Consider Nutritional Testing To Make Sure Your Nutritional Needs Are Being Met
Personally, I love performing this test on people and watching their amazement on their need for more nutrients than what they are taking or thought they needed (the data does not lie!). There are a few specialty labs that provide nutritional testing to make sure, regardless of actual levels of a nutrient, that your needs are being met. These tests look at the metabolites of your fatty acids, anti-oxidants (vitamin C, glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid), amino acids, and the metabolites of how our body is breaking down the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins we consume. The bottom line is that if your nutritional needs aren’t being met, then the aging process happens much faster and one’s risk of developing disease increases.
Work on Your Body’s Detoxification Pathways
Skin, our body’s largest organ, helps our body detoxify and excrete the toxins and other “bad” stuff we are exposed to. The key to younger and healthier, glowing skin is to promote a healthy liver and to help the skin detoxify. Anti-aging oriented clinics can test you for your body’s load of toxins/heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, and help you safely detoxify them. Clinics will also utilize glutathione to help support the liver to cleanse the body of toxins and waste. You can help with this by eating lots of green leafy vegetables which contain the nutrients that help the body rid toxins. Vitamin C coupled with a nutrient called n-acytlcysteine, or NAC will turn into glutathione in the body. Both vitamin C and NAC are inexpensive supplements that you can buy and take daily.
Sweating also helps rid your body of toxins. Saunas are an excellent way to promote detoxification as well as good old fashioned exercise. Salt scrubs after sweating seem to aid the skin rid the toxins – and skin feels awesome afterwards!
This article only scratches the surface of anti-aging measures that can be done at home and with the direction and supervision of a knowledgeable practitioner. Anti-aging medicine does not have to be expensive and is not just for the elite. While I would never criticize the people who seek out external measures to help them look younger, I hope this article educates that we can do things daily to slow the aging process from the inside that has the extra benefit of reducing our risks of developing disease. May we all be as youthful, energetic, and healthy as we can be!
Renae Blanton, MSN, ANP is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Sonas Integrative Medical Center. She specializes in integrative family medicine with a focus on environmental issues such as lead toxicity, anti-aging, women’s health and chronic disease and illness. She can be reached at 970-247-2500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 970-247-2500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 970-247-2500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 970-247-2500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting or firstname.lastname@example.org.