AGING WELL WITH ENERGY AND VITALITY
This is an exciting time for treating pain and injuries. When I was a resident, the hallmarks of sports medicine were steroids and surgery. Unfortunately, that model still dominates conventional sports medicine but times they are a changing. If you suffer from any tendinitis or other soft tissue injury or if you are hampered by an arthritic joint, the keyword to think about is regeneration.
We live in an amazing time for medical miracles. There have been many medical breakthroughs over the past 25 years, both in terms of medical technology such as devices that mimic the function of many organs and medications that can treat cancer. Less publicized are all the breakthroughs in the world of natural treatments. There are so many opportunities for good health and successful aging without the use of drugs.
A key component of improving aging is reducing inflammation. A high level of inflammation in the body is a key driver of disease. The good news is that you can reduce this inflammation with simple dietary strategies and with hormone optimization.
One of the leading causes of inflammation is visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat around organs and is generally not visible, except with special scan studies. This fat mediates many body reactions that lead to increased inflammation. If you are overweight, the fat you see may be a prominent belly. That is peripheral fat, and this may correlate with visceral fat. While prominent visible fat usually indicates a large amount of visceral fat, there are those who have high amounts of visceral fat with small amounts of visible fat.
Before describing the ways to reduce it, you should understand the dangers of inflammation. Inflammation leads to increased blood clots which are the cause of heart disease, especially when the blood clots form in the cardiac arteries. These clots can also lead to strokes. The inflammation also leads to insulin resistance, which is the mechanism of type 2 diabetes mellitus (this used to be called adult onset diabetes mellitus but unfortunately there are growing number of children with this condition). Increased inflammation also predisposes to cancer so by reducing your inflammation, you can reduce your cancer risk. With increased inflammation, you are also more susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Your first focus to reduce your inflammation is to reduce your visceral fat. A good first step for this is to optimize your hormones. If you are a woman who has reached menopause, your visceral fat has increased due to the loss of estrogen and progesterone. By replacing the estrogen and progesterone to optimal levels you will lose that excess visceral fat and reduce your inflammation. Also, thyroid deficiency is very common among women, and for many, this deficiency develops at menopause. Optimizing thyroid function will also help reduce your visceral fat. For men who have reached 50, your testosterone levels are declining and with this decline, is associated increased visceral fat and inflammation. By optimizing your testosterone levels with testosterone replacement, you will reduce your visceral fat and inflammation. Men may also have thyroid deficiency, which responds very well to optimal thyroid replacement.
Besides reducing visceral fat and inflammation, which will reduce the risk of many chronic diseases as noted above, hormone optimization will improve your energy. Part of the aging process and that feeling of decline is due to loss of hormones. By optimizing your hormones that feeling of decline transitions to a feeling of vitality, reigniting your spark for life, which is a great way to enjoy rather than dread the aging process.
We have also learned much about diet and its relationship to inflammation. Recall that visceral fat leads to inflammation. One of the key generators of visceral fat is insulin. By reducing insulin production, you can reduce your visceral fat. A key point to know about diet is the greatest stimulant of insulin production is carbohydrate intake. So, a great way to reduce insulin production is decreasing your carbohydrate intake. This is simple but challenging for two reasons. One is that our American diet is so strongly biased toward carbohydrates. Carbs are a prominent offering at most restaurant menus, and are loaded in most processed foods in every supermarket. Also, if you are eating a carb-based diet, you are generating insulin in your body that leads you to crave more carbs. So your body is craving more carbs and they are so readily available that they are hard to resist.
While you cannot control all the availability of carbs that may be tempting you, you can work on your carb intake. The best part is that by reducing your carb intake, you are reducing your insulin production, so your carb cravings start to decrease. Your visceral fat will decrease which reduces your inflammation and improves your energy. With improved energy, you will feel great and will age better with improved health. You will bring your inflammation down, which reduces the risk of all those degenerative diseases discussed above.
The key points to remember are that to age well you need to reduce your inflammation and that is very achievable. You can improve health by optimizing your hormones and improving your diet. There is an abundance of information available that shares other ways to reduce inflammation, either with supplements, relaxation techniques, exercise and energy techniques. A great way to get started is by optimizing your hormones. When you do that, you start to reduce your visceral fat. When your hormones are optimized, you will have more energy and more motivation to eat well. When you direct your energies to reducing your carbohydrate intake you reduce your visceral fat further and increase your energy more.
You will then be on the road to aging well with improved energy and vitality. You will be aging in good health, which will enable you to share all your wisdom that you have earned with years of healthy living.