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The aging process was once thought to be one thing which we had no control over. Let's face it; we're definitely going to grow old. But now the question is; what can we do about it?
This could be where anti-aging medicine comes in. Anti-aging works to slow, stop and sometimes even reverse the aging process. We often think of growing old as growing sick, but anti-aging specialists say it doesn't have to be that way.
Anti-aging medicine isn't simply a theory. It is a new medical subspecialty in which physicians have been certified since 1997. These board-certified professionals believe that the aging process is like any disease. It has certain symptoms, and as with other diseases, these symptoms have treatments.
Anti-aging physicians use the latest medical tests and treatments. They only prescribe medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And their goal is to use preventive medicine to improve their patients' quality of life.
Anti-aging procedures work to reduce body fat, restore muscle loss and lessen bone loss, to mention just a few.
According to the Anti-Aging Institute in Savannah, Georgia, anti-aging therapies can even extend a person's life. They estimate that a person who starts an anti-aging program in their mid 30s could gain 10 to 20 extra years of life.
When we are young, our hormones are present in high levels. As we age, however, these levels decrease and we lose some of our youthful exuberance. So, much of the focus of anti-aging medicine is on replacing hormones that the body has lost in order to regain some of our youthful good feelings.
One such hormone supplement, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is in the spotlight as a hormone to fix everything. DHEA is manufactured mainly by the adrenal glands and is the body's most common steroid hormone. As with other hormones, DHEA decreases as we age. Some experts believe replicating the DHEA level of a 21-year-old can reduce risks of certain diseases while at the same time increasing lean body mass, sexual interest and boosting the immune system.
Other doctors, however, argue that we don't have enough proof that DHEA works in all these ways. Furthermore, these experts have concerns that DHEA can have irreversible side effects we don't yet know about, such as a possible increased risk of cancer.
Experts are clearly divided on the issue of DHEA. While some people are already taking DHEA on the belief that keeping DHEA at 21-year-old levels will extend their life, this is not known to be true. DHEA is virtually unregulated and can have effects throughout the body that are not yet known. For these reasons, experts suggest consulting with your doctor before beginning any DHEA program.
As women age and go through menopause (the end of monthly menstrual periods), their bodies slow production of the hormone estrogen which can result in major changes to the body. For this reason, estrogen hormone therapy, the replacement of lost estrogen, is often used to combat these symptoms.
For women experiencing menopause, estrogen supplements are used to reduce "hot flashes," which are intense feelings of heat that come on suddenly and without provocation. Estrogen can also be used to help prevent osteoporosis in menopausal women. Finally, certain brands of estrogen can be used in lessening the symptoms of some kinds of breast and prostate cancer.
Because estrogen therapy does have some risks associated with it, including increased risk for some types of cancer, women on estrogen should work closely with their doctor while taking it.
Cortisol is a hormone used by the body in many ways, but most notably in the body's response to stress.
The body uses cortisol in times of stress or danger for quick energy bursts, increased immunity, improved memory and even to dull pain. Once the stressful situation has passed, however, the body wants to return to its relaxed state. If you are suffering from chronic stress, which stimulates cortisol and keeps your body on high alert, you are doing damage to your body.
While useful in small amounts, sustained high levels of cortisol can wreak havoc on the body. An excess of cortisol can cause:
* Improper thyroid function
* Blood sugar imbalances
* Bone loss
* Muscle loss
* Impaired cognitive ability
* Compromised immune system
* Increased belly fat
Learning relaxation techniques is a good way to keep your cortisol under control. If you find yourself feeling constantly stressed and keyed up, try breathing techniques, visualization, exercise, yoga, meditation, pursuing a hobby or even self-hypnosis to release stress.
A study has found that caffeine can be more useful than to simply help us stay awake.
Researchers at The Australian Institute of Sport fed athletes 6-8 ounces of a caffeinated drink before they exercised. These caffeinated athletes were able to continue exercising for 30 minutes more than their peers who had not had any caffeine. Furthermore, the athletes who took the caffeine lost more weight during the exercise than those who went without.
These results have led the research team to suggest that caffeine helps muscles burn fat instead of carbohydrates.
Because maintaining a healthy weight is vital to staying healthy and young, caffeine can be a tool in your anti-aging plan. So, before you hop on the treadmill, consider drinking a small caffeinated beverage to help improve your workout too!
Of course, consult your doctor before beginning or making changes to your exercise regimen.
Beta-carotene was once believed to be the "miracle antioxidant," touted for its abilities to reduce cancer and heart disease risk. Although carrots and other vegetables which contain beta-carotene are indeed beneficial for health, it's been determined that beta-carotene itself, in supplement form, has little ability to reduce cancer or heart disease.
The Beta Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial or CARET, was a National Cancer Institute study conducted in the United States. It examined whether the combination of beta carotene and vitamin A would lower incidents of lung cancer in smokers or former smokers. The study was never completed, however, because researchers found an 18 percent higher incidence of cancer in those taking the supplements. They advised volunteers to stop taking the pills.
The findings of this study, while startling, cannot be applied to non-smokers. In fact, another study followed 22,000 male doctors who took beta-carotene over a period of 12 years. This study found no particular benefit or harm of beta-carotene.
In summary, it's easiest to stay healthy by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Do that and you needn't worry about taking questionable supplements.
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be important to anti-aging, doctors stress it is not the sole therapy used in anti-aging medicine.
Anti-aging works to incorporate a variety of treatments, all medically approved and some high-tech, to achieve wellness and longevity. While hormone supplements can be part of this, doctors also recommend healthy diet, exercise, weight loss and patient education as other ways to increase your longevity.
Similar to other diseases, anti-aging physicians recommend "early detection" of aging. The earlier you start an anti-aging program, the more beneficial it can be to you.
Progesterone is a hormone of many uses to the body. Because of its versatility, many doctors recommend progesterone therapy for women whose levels have declined due to aging. Progesterone plays a key role in conception and pregnancy by preparing the uterine lining to accept a fertilized egg. If no pregnancy occurs, progesterone drops, leading to menstruation.
Progesterone is also used by systems outside of reproduction. Some of them are listed below.
It raises core body temperature.
It relaxes and reduces muscle spasms.
It widens bronchi.
It is an anti-inflammatory agent.
It normalizes blood clotting.
It helps in thyroid function.
It keeps skin and ligaments supple.
Progesterone supplements are administered by pill, injection and suppository form.