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Natural Anti-Aging - The Intelligent Approach
by Dr. Nicolas Campos

Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills Chiropractor Dr. Nick Campos

Last night I caught a piece on CNN that was being done on one of the top trends in health-care today, called anti-aging. This concept is not new, but it has become more prevalent in the minds of many Americans today. The reason is that the marketing machine recognizes that this buzzword holds power over most people's fears of getting older, and so everything from vitamins to plastic surgery is sold under this moniker. People have always been obsessed with finding the Fountain of Youth and therefore will pour millions of dollars into products or services promising such results (e.g. - the multimillion dollar cosmetic industry).

With all this money spent trying to slow down the aging process, we have to ask ourselves, is anti-aging really possible? In search for an answer, two opposing factions have developed. One, a group of health practitioners, believes very strongly that anti-aging is possible, and the other group, represented by the "gerontological establishment" (a.k.a. - mainstream medicine) who believe that the aging process is inevitable, and thus any attempts to intervene and halt it are futile and probably counterproductive.

As I started to investigate this very interesting topic, I began question the beliefs of both groups. I have concluded that both sides have unreasonable arguments. To begin with, the current position of the medical establishment is that aging is inevitable and there is nothing that can be done to extend the human lifespan. I find this to be a rather limited perspective. My research uncovered that these medical experts deny that lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and healthy diets can slow down the aging process. They claim that these steps can only effect the manifestations of aging but not aging itself. Therefore, one may have a "healthier life" and may even possibly feel better, but there is no proof that these habits will lengthen one's life. I strongly disagree, as there seems to be an enormous amount of proof that it can. But, it also seems that much of their argument becomes an exercise in semantics and philosophy, and not really facts on anti-aging.

On the other hand, the anti-aging camp believes that we indeed can affect the aging process through habits such as proper nutrition and regular physical fitness. So far, so good…but here is where they totally lose me: they seem to promote procedures such as genetic engineering and hormone therapy to intervene in the aging process. I think this is both scary and dangerous (not to mention unproven and possibly unethical … but that is for another article altogether).

On the CNN piece that I saw, anti-aging was being sold as Botox injections and plastic surgery. I guess this idea belongs to yet another group. Their philosophy is, if you cannot halt the aging process, then cover it up. They just use the term "anti-aging" because it touches on the fears and vanities of many people and has therefore enormous marketability, as well as it is a catch phrase for big financial gain.

Let's face it, none of this cosmetic stuff prevents aging in any way. It merely serves the same purpose as a new paint job for the family jalopy. Now there is nothing wrong with this concept, especially if it helps someone look better. But, a new paint job eventually ages too, and at the cost of about $20,000 per year, you will have to be a Cher to keep it maintained. And frankly, after several "touch ups", people start to look, well … weird.

Nutrition for Anti-Aging

The good news is that we actually can extend our lives, as well as reduce the effects of aging. There are several things that we can do on a regular basis that can enhance our health, improve our looks, and possibly even slow down the aging process.

The first is nutritional. Aside from eating right, that is, the right foods in the right proportions (anybody see Super Size Me yet?), there are several nutrients that may be beneficial to this endeavor. The first are the vitamins B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and B6 (Pyridoxine). B5 is a constituent of coenzyme A, which acts as a detoxifier in the body. Studies done show a 19% increase in lifespan of rats fed this vitamin. Vitamin B6, necessary in the metabolism of amino acids, acts as a defense (along with Folic Acid, another B vitamin) in the body's homocysteine levels. Homocysteine has been shown to increase the risk of atherosclerosis and consequently heart disease (see link). A study conducted on 80 thousand women showed that those who regularly used these vitamins had the lowest risk for heart disease (Malinow MR and others, Circulation 99:178-182, 1999). A good B-complex supplement should provide the necessary amounts of these two nutrients.

In addition to the B vitamins, there is another group of nutrients that can help slow down the effects of aging. These vital nutrients are the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's). They are called "essential" because they can not be produced in the body and must therefore be obtained in the diet. There is a general misconception that all fat is bad and therefore must be avoided. This is absolutely not true. While some fats (the saturated kind found mostly in animal products) can be damaging, EFA's are necessary for the production of cell membranes, increasing metabolic rate (burning fat, losing weight), decreasing risk of blood clots, decreasing blood pressure, producing prostaglandins (our natural anti-inflammatory agent), increasing brain function, elevating moods, balancing cholesterol, producing hormones (testosterone and estrogen), decreasing risk of heart disease, and providing energy http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2001/july2001_report_fat_01.html.

The most exciting thing EFA's do though (you ladies will appreciate this) is provide soft, smooth, and velvety skin. That's right, exactly what we have all been looking for. Move over Botox, EFA's are natural and we do not have to worry about possible facial paralysis (Botox = botulism TOXIN which may cause muscle paralysis). Please do not discount this very real danger of Botox injections. Read what happened to these women. EFA's can be found in fish, flax seed, borage, and primrose oils (if you would like to purchase any of these supplements, please contact us.

Anti-oxidants are also important in retarding the aging process. As the name implies, these compounds prevent the oxidation of our cells and DNA by free radicals formed in the body, thus preventing the development of many cancers. It is especially important to take these supplements if you exercise regularly (which of course you do, right?????) as exercise increases free radical formation.

Drinking plenty of water will also reverse the effects of aging. The benefits of proper hydration are numerous, affecting almost every process occurring in the body. In addition to maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in the body, it also acts as a natural moisturizer keeping the skin soft and supple. Water is the elixir of life, and drinking it amply will prevent premature aging.

One final and quite possibly the most important anti-aging tip with regard to nutrition is: do not overeat. This will soon become the cardinal rule of eating, since studies are showing that consuming smaller portions are leading to a longer lifespan in laboratory animals, and experts believe that these results will easily apply to human beings as well. The bottom line is that we all probably eat more than we really need to and leaving a little on your plate can really go a long way in keeping us young and healthy.

Growth Hormone and Anti-Aging

Another healthy habit that has been shown to reduce the effects of aging and may possibly slow down the aging process itself is regular exercise. Although moderate activity performed three times per week is sufficient to combat aging, it has now been determined that strenuous exercise (that which makes you break out into a sweat) has even greater anti-aging effects. Some obvious effects are decreased weight and increased muscle mass, improved circulation, decreased risk of heart disease, increased energy, and increased bone density (prevents fractures due to osteoporosis). Let's face it, those who make exercise a habit generally look and feel better than those who do not.

Another anti-aging tip is to get plenty of beauty sleep. That's right, the amount of sleep that you get will affect the aging process. Probably the more accurate way to say this is that if you rob yourself of this important process, you will show signs of aging very quickly. "Old and tired" are terms that are used hand in hand, and none of us wants to appear either way.

Many essential functions are carried out while we sleep. Cells regenerate, proteins (the constituents of hair, skin, and nails) are built up, and DNA is repaired during our sleep cycles. But probably most vital to anti-aging is the production and release of growth hormone (GH) that occurs while we sleep. This hormone, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, increases bone growth and lean muscle mass. It also acts to increase fat metabolism, so it plays a role in maintaining one's figure. Since the production of GH decreases every year following puberty, it makes it even more imperative not to disrupt the sleep process too often.

One of the big areas in anti-aging therapeutics is the research and use of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH). Although there was a time when this stuff was being extracted from actual human pituitary glands, today it is produced from bacteria using molecular biology techniques. The most effective form is the injectable kind, but there are thousands of companies selling oral supplements of HGH or HGH enhancers. Unfortunately, oral HGH does not work as it is destroyed by enzymes present in the mouth and the acids of the stomach. Furthermore, HGH is very expensive (it is right up there with plastic surgery and Botox), and thus would be almost impossible to continue as a therapy for the average person. Do not fret, not only is GH released during sleep, but also during anaerobic exercise (lifting weights). So we can all enjoy the benefits of GH without having to mortgage the house.

You're Only as Young as You Think

Some might argue (me, for example) that aging is primarily a state of mind, since we are only as young as we think we are. We all know people who are "young at heart" and they usually look like it too. No studies really exist to back up this hypothesis…at least not yet, but there is definite evidence showing that exercising the mind is as important as exercising the body when speaking of anti-aging.

Some tips on maintaining proper mental function are:

  1. Stay mentally active - crossword puzzles, math problems, learning a foreign language, playing chess, or anything else that challenges the mind. This will stimulate it and keep it functioning properly.
  2. Stay social - interact with people regularly. Different viewpoints and experiences enhance the mind.
  3. Stay physically active - studies show that physical activity keeps one mentally sharp too
  4. Stay away from toxins - particularly cigarettes, they have been shown to damage blood vessels to the brain, leading to decreased mental acuity
  5. Be aware of common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Many can affect memory and other mental processes.

The bottom line regarding the mind is, "use it or lose it"…period. One day, we are sure to see research showing that aging is as much a mental process as it is a physical one. You may as well be ahead of the game and start thinking and acting young now.

Warning: Toxins Shown to Prevent Anti-Aging

Avoiding toxins is another way to administer your own anti-aging regimen. There are many toxins that can speed up the aging process, but none so readily and completely as cigarettes. Cigarette smoking not only damages brain cells and blood vessels in the brain, it also dries out the skin and causes premature wrinkling (see link). If you want to keep your skin looking young and beautiful, kick the habit, baby (by the way, I know it is hard … I quit after 20 years of the habit myself…and it was not easy, but if I can do it …you probably can too).

One more obstacle to the anti-aging practice is the excessive consumption of liquor. Studies have shown that alcohol may lead to premature aging of the brain. Furthermore, free radical formation from excessive alcohol intake can damage the skin, while the dehydration that accompanies drinking also can make the skin look old and worn.

Chiropractic Can Help Too?

In addition to all the above tips on anti-aging, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to get regular chiropractic care. Chiropractic works by re-opening fixated joints, allowing them to move through their full range of motion. As the joints regain their full movement, they are able to lubricate themselves, reducing friction and thus preventing the wear and tear that leads to arthritis. As any arthritic will tell you, joints that do not move and/or have unlubricated surfaces can cause pain and impair movement. Chiropractic helps restore proper motion to malfunctioning joints.

Have you ever seen someone in pain, hobbling around? The only way to describe them is that they look old, right? This is because we assume that old people cannot move so well. Yet, we regularly see many people in their sixties and seventies in our office, and they move as gracefully as our twenty year old clients do. They also have the ability to do yoga, run, and lift weights through their full range of motion, allowing them the full benefits of these anti-aging practices. Now isn't that getting the most out of life?

Since chiropractic also realigns the spine, the spinal cord remains unobstructed in the spinal column functioning to its full capacity. This allows it to control and coordinate every bodily process, as it is meant to do, without any interference. Do you think a body carrying out its functions unimpeded will be able to carry out those functions longer than one that is obstructed? The fact is that no nutrient can be digested nor may any exercise be performed, without a properly functioning nervous system. Doesn't it make sense to take impeccable care of the only one you have (proponents of stem cell research, feel free to disagree)?

Another benefit of chiropractic care is that it helps improve posture. Over time, the effects of gravity can literally weigh down the spine, leading to the development of a hunched over posture. Unless we consciously do the things necessary to prevent this from happening, we are all in danger to some degree of experiencing faulty and often times, painful postural changes.

Along with strengthening the back muscles and keeping the chest muscles flexible, regular chiropractic care prevents the forward wedging of the spine that is characteristic of a forward drawn posture. There is no doubt that people who maintain good posture look younger (and have less pain) than those who do not.

Anti-aging is now big business. Everybody is trying to make a buck by attaching that term to their products or procedures. And why shouldn't they? Almost everybody wants to extend their lives and look damn good while doing it, right?

Unfortunately, not everybody can afford what is being sold on CNN as anti-aging. Furthermore, looking more deeply into it, we discover that those practices are not anti-aging at all, but instead "extreme makeovers".

Real anti-aging need not be limited to those with huge bank accounts. It is all at our own fingertips, as long as we want it. All it takes is practicing a few simple principles. Every anti-aging tip we have discussed can be made into a regular habit and incorporated into our lifestyles. Essentially, that is the real answer to the aging question. What we do consistently in our lives is what really makes the difference for us. Many people see anti-aging occurring naturally in their lives by practicing healthy habits. You can too. You see, the Fountain of Youth has always been inside of us; we just have not always known it. Now it is up to us to keep it flowing freely.

Dr. Nick Campos, D.C.
West Hollywood Chiropractor

Disclaimer: this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment. Please see your health care professional for a professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer and Terms of Use regarding your use of this website.



Dr. Nick Campos, Chiropractic Doctor Address:
1042 N. Fairfax Ave. West Hollywood CA, 90046
Telephone: (323) 359-1032 :: Office Hours / Send Email Online

Disclaimer: this website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a professional
medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment. Please see your health care professional for a
professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer and Terms of Use regarding your use of this website.

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