The anti-ageing systems in the medical world are an ever evolving field, with ongoing scientific research to understand how physical and mental decline happens as we age. Health care is about more than treating disease. Screening and early detection are critical elements of any health management plan. Ultimately, however, prevention is the key defence; the aim for most anti-ageing systems is to have measures to counter or delay the onset of degenerative conditions. New tools are being developed to help us not only slow the ageing process down, but also harness our body’s own defences in order to do it.
The desire for a youthful image isn’t about glamour or ego. Frequently it is about competing better in business or looking your best to enhance your self-confidence. Healthy ageing is the concept of navigating our later years with increased grace, energy and ease, prolonging better function on all levels. For many it is a journey of discovery about their body and the changes that ageing brings. Every journey begins with education, understanding the variety of health issues that ageing brings assists with better prevention and treatment strategies.
The best anti-ageing systems program is an individually customised holistic and comprehensive plan, based on a thorough medical history and examination along with testing as needed. Anti-ageing systems modalities typically include diet and lifestyle, exercise, natural or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, nutritional supplementation, and stress reduction techniques. Some of the benefits of a healthy ageing approach are;
- loss of excess body fat
- skin rejuvenation
- improved memory
- enhanced concentration
- improved reaction time
- boosted well-being
- a stronger immune system
- heightened physical performance
- healthier sexual functioning.
The Multimodal Approach to Healthy Ageing
We are more than simply a collection of assorted chemicals. An effective approach to healthy ageing needs to be multi-faceted, embracing all aspects of who we are, from our mental state and our lifestyle to our physical body. This is termed the ‘multimodal approach’ in healthcare, using a holistic methodology to incorporate all aspects of our lives.
As an illustration, consider someone presenting with low energy as part of their ageing picture. With a healthy ageing plan in place this person may be advised on addressing not only the chemical causes of fatigue, but lifestyle choices contributing to it may be examined.
Healthy Ageing Decisions
It all begins with the desire to take personal responsibility for your health. Making the decision to look at your current health situation and modifications to develop healthy ageing practices is the first step. For many women, the issues begin with menopause, as sleep is disrupted, skin turns dry and fragile, and energy slackens. These concerns could be dismissed as ‘simply part of getting older’ or we can decide to seek help and investigate available options. The path to healthy ageing is not about the ‘magic pill’, a multi-pronged anti-ageing systems approach will offer optimised solutions.
Anti-Ageing Systems for Diet and Exercise
It is common knowledge that a healthy diet and appropriate exercise are important factors in maintaining good health. Yet, these aspects are too often neglected. A viable diet plan must be designed to cater to both the individual and their particular life stage. Bodies change over time and their needs change along with them. Creating a smart diet, and establishing the right exercise program for a healthy anti-ageing systems strategy may entail professional guidance.
Measures beyond just a healthy diet may be required. Modern food processing strips food of many of its natural benefits leaving empty calories. This can significantly contribute to health problems as we age. Identifying and incorporating specific vitamins and trace elements missing in your diet may be essential to your health. This is where pharmaceutical grade supplements can help, boosting well-being by being readily absorbed, thus complementing a good diet.
Hormones are so integral to every function regulating so many aspects of our health that we literally couldn’t operate without them. But age slows or halts production of many of these hormones. This in turn can impact sleep patterns, emotions, and even create heart issues. A holistic anti-ageing systems plan works to establish current hormone levels and determine exactly what is needed to achieve hormonal balance. Read more about Hormone Balancing with bio-identical hormones for healthy ageing on our fact sheet.
The Personal Touch
Sometimes the issues are too overwhelming for someone to solve on their own. A personal health coach professional guiding you through the rough spots can make an enormous difference. From discussing the hormonal changes experienced with age to finding the ideal nutritional supplements to smooth the ageing process, a coach works with a client to create a unique customised program. Take the time to discover if this pro-active step will move you forward on the path to a healthy ageing plan. Ageing may be a fact of life, but it can also be the best time of our lives. Dr Kathy Gallagher is an experienced doctor working with patients to optimise their health.
Creating a sound healthy ageing plan is an excellent goal for anyone motivated and committed to improving their health. A one-on-one consultation determines the current state of health, considers desired goals, and how best patient and practitioner may work together to achieve the optimal outcome. However, if extraordinary levels of physical, emotional, and mental difficulties are being experienced prior consultation with their general practitioner is strongly recommended.
Ageing well is all about achieving and maintaining balance. Hormones do the vital job of balancing the chemical processes of the body. With ageing there is a substantial decline in the signals that normally keep things in balance. This results in decreased levels of hormones or their inadequate regulation.
How you look and feel is powerfully influenced by your hormones as they affect virtually every function in the body. If hormones are not functioning properly, or are unbalanced it may cause fatigue, depression, weight gain, loss of libido or premenstrual symptoms. It also results in significant changes in the skin. There are many and varied hormones that impact the skin including the sex hormones, growth hormone and melatonin, our sleep hormone.
There are many health implications to the natural decline in hormone levels that comes with age. These include illnesses associated with the ageing process, or with menopause in women. Menopause is often the time we start to notice accelerated changes. These changes are why finding out how to fix hormone imbalance early is so critical to health. As it draws nearer we begin to experience hot flushes, night sweats, drier skin, increased facial hair, skin sagging with declining elasticity, thinning of the epidermis, higher susceptibility to sun damage and hyperpigmentation or age spots. Hormone modulation can help enormously and is well worth investigating for a strategic advantage in healthy ageing.
How to Fix Hormone Imbalance with Hormone Modulation
The science of optimising hormones that are no longer being sufficiently produced by the body is called hormone modulation. Nature’s master plan in the form of genetic programming, as amazing as it is, only takes us to the age of reproductive functioning. And it is at this point we begin to fail. In fact, much of ageing really is a spectrum of deficiencies in the various substances that our body once produced abundantly. The best opportunity for a continued healthy and vigorous life is to regain and maintain physiological, metabolic, and endocrine (hormone) functions at the upper end of the normal blood range for our age group.
Menopause and Changing Oestrogen Levels
A natural transition in the way the sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, are produced and released occurs in women from around their mid to late forties. Over the course of five to ten years (known as peri-menopause), hormone production slows, becomes erratic, and eventually shuts down altogether due to the exhaustion of oestrogen-producing reserves in the ovaries. During the latter part of this transition, cycle lengths become irregular and menstruation ultimately stops (known as the menopause).
The declining operation of the ovaries involves not only reproductive performance, but also alterations in almost every aspect of a woman’s body and life. Significant changes are evident in the skin – including thinning, dryness and roughness, easy bruising, wrinkling, and skin that is slow to heal. For women suffering menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with bio-identical hormones can provide much needed relief.
Additionally, there are now studies showing that HRT can result in improvement in the skin. HRT is available in several different forms, which can be delivered by oral, transdermal (topical cream), or vaginal routes. Hormones levels are very individual and a generic formula cannot be applied here. We must assess hormone levels with blood and/or saliva testing and then balance them using bio-identical hormones. Everyone is different and will require tailored combinations of the different oestrogens, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone. This is often best started in the peri-menopause when symptoms first appear.
Bio-identical vs Synthetic Hormones
A bio-identical hormone is a hormone that is biochemically and molecularly identical to the human hormone. It is derived originally from a plant and converted by biochemists into one of the various human hormones, eg oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA.
Synthetic hormones by contrast do not occur naturally in the body. They are in some ways similar to human hormones but in other ways very different. Side effects are more likely with the use of synthetic, artificial hormones. Synthetic forms of HRT are very commonly used despite widespread knowledge of the increased risks of breast cancer and heart disease.
Every person is unique, needing different hormones and different dosing regimens to improve symptoms and achieve hormone levels in the optimal range. Monitoring is done through blood and saliva testing. Therapy is individually customised and carefully checked with ongoing assessment and testing. Dietary and lifestyle advice, as well as nutritional supplements if needed are provided.
The Benefits of Hormone Balancing
Because hormones have effects in virtually every part of the body, the benefits of hormone balancing can be widespread. Of course, each person is different and so individual results will vary. These benefits include:
- Increased energy and physical endurance
- Improved weight management
- Improved memory
- Improved mood and libido
- Treatment of hot flushes and night sweats
- Improved bone density
- Improved menstrual cycle
- Improved skin elasticity and texture
- Improved immune system.
Maintaining optimal health in today’s fast paced world is a goal everyone is chasing. Modern diets are often lacking optimal levels of key vitamins and minerals. The addition of nutritional supplements to a wellness program is beneficial for hormone balancing and addressing gaps in diet. A consultation with your practitioner determines the ideal supplements required based on definitive diagnosis, from comprehensive medical history, laboratory testing, and risk factors for future disease. Some doctors take a special interest in healthy ageing and the factors for optimal health including nutritional supplements. Dr Kathy Gallagher works with patients to ensure a tailored, evidence-based apprach suits the needs of that person.
A full supplement review is essential to understanding your unique needs for your body to perform at its best. Based on testing results and anticipated risk factors for disease, your practitioner will discuss a supplement strategy with you. It is important to be aware that not all supplements are created equal. While off the shelf supplements may cost less, pharmaceutical quality supplements ensure the highest standards. Using the highest quality of supplements goes a long way towards ensuring the best possible outcome for your wellness program. Pharmaceutical grade supplements are only available on prescription or from a health practitioner.
Skin Care and Supplement Review Strategies
Most skin care regimes are enhanced by the inclusion of appropriate nutritional supplements. Encouraging the development of new healthy collagen and promoting healing are just some reasons for doing a supplement review. For example, a popular cellulite treatment, MedContour, is more effective when paired with supplements promoting lymphatic drainage and fat metabolism.
Nutritional supplementation is a fairly widespread practice, but it is always a good idea to first obtain a doctor’s approval. Before any supplements are recommended, a discussion regarding current needs and expectations is important. Thorough testing clarifies present nutrient levels, and determines the specific supplements uniquely suited to a client’s needs. Allergic reactions previously experienced, to any kind of supplement, should be assessed before proceeding with supplementation.
There are no known side effects to taking nutritional supplements under medical supervision when taken as directed.
Oxidative Damage and Anti-oxidants
Every cause of skin damage, from sunlight, smoking, stress to lack of sleep, involves generating highly reactive and toxic by-products of oxygen in your skin. These are known as ‘free radicals’, and are produced when one of the factors mentioned consumes an oxygen electron (normally paired), leaving an unpaired (free) electron.
In response to this imbalance, free radicals regain their missing electron by stealing it from other chemicals. They can react with almost anything, including DNA, lipids in cell membranes, proteins, and other vital structures, leaving them damaged. Injury due to free radicals (known as oxidative damage) is a key trigger for inflammation and matrix breakdown in the skin, both processes in skin ageing.
The skin has its own antioxidant defence systems to combat free radicals. These include enzymes that promote destruction of free radicals, as well as antioxidant ‘decoys’ that prevent damage by ‘taking the bullet’ themselves, thus protecting your skin. Key vitamin antioxidants are vitamin E and vitamin C.
When toxic free radical production outstrips the body’s defences a state of oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress is an important elements of skin ageing. The body’s production of antioxidants declines with age, while the cumulative exposure to free radicals increases, overwhelming its defences. Targeting free radicals is an effective means to slow ageing and a central component of anti-ageing systems. Indisputably, diets rich in antioxidants are associated with fewer wrinkles and better complexions. Antioxidants are available as dietary supplements, but the efficacy of these plant-derived compounds and vitamins are not well understood.
For information on the vitamins and minerals that may form part of a tailored anti-ageing program, see our fact sheet on Understanding Anti-Oxidants and Vitamins in Healthy Ageing.
Stress Reduction Techniques
For the last fifty years or so meditation and yoga have been studied as techniques for stress reduction and treatment of depression and anxiety. Meditation may be one of the best anti-ageing exercises to promote both a healthy mind and body. It can dramatically raise melatonin levels in the body;
- improving sleep
- regulating immune function
- reducing cell damage
- functioning as an antioxidant
- impeding proliferation of cancer cells.
Meditation has been shown to also;
- lower cortisol (stress hormone that contributes to thinning skin)
- boost DHEA production (linked with age related cognitive decline and risk of heart disease)
- pain mitigation
- toxin removal
- heartbeat regulation
- emotional balancing
- improvement in the body’s ability to heal.
The therapeutic benefits of yoga include modulation of the stress response, which induces lowering of the heart rate and blood pressure, and quieting breathing. Yoga enhances mood and overall well-being, in a fashion comparable to other exercise and relaxation techniques. However, yoga is different from traditional exercise, combining movement to develop balance, flexibility, and strength with breathing practices. There are many styles and intensities of yoga, suited to differing preferences and physical ability. Asana and Vinyasa yoga have become the most popular types offered in Australia, blending physical poses, breathing practice, and deep relaxation or meditation.