Is aging inevitable? The truth about turning back the clock
By Dr Stephen Chan, Medical Director in Life Clinic
Advances in anti-aging science are changing the experience of how we age. Deteriorating physical and mental function may one day be a thing of the past.
A common perception among many is that the aches and pains that come with aging are an inescapable part of getting older and that we have to just accept them.
Dr Stephen Chan disagrees. “The most widespread misconception about getting older is that we can’t do anything about it, and that simply isn’t true. There’s a lot we can do, and we just have to understand the process of ageing,” he says.
Dr. Chan is part of the team of a Hong Kong-based clinic that offers cutting-edge medical treatments for “anti-aging” and “health optimisation”. Many people notice a change in their health around their mid to late thirties, They feel tired easily, can’t sleep well or put on a few pounds Or they may lose interest in their partners, or become moody and irritable.
The signs can be quite subtle, and some people will learn to compensate by eating better or exercising more. “When that isn’t enough that’s when they come to us” Dr Chan says “and we help them find lasting answers”. This may be a series of non-invasive tests on blood, saliva, stool or urine, which help to build an accurate picture of deficiencies or imbalances within the body. A personalised program can then be given to repair the body and redress the deficiencies.
Indeed, “Repairing” the body and “Reducing” further damage are central tenements of Life Clinic philosophy.
So why do we age?
This happens for many reasons, Dr Chan says. Partly wear and tear, partly genetic and partly because we produce more and more volatile molecules in the body called “free radicals”. This is where an atom loses an electron, becomes unstable, leading it to steal one from a neighbouring structure setting up a chain reaction (as this molecule becomes unstable). This can cause injury to delicate structures such as blood vessels (causing heart attacks and strokes), the brain (causing memory loss and dementia) and our DNA (causing cancers). That’s why these conditions are so common as we get older.
A major source of free radicals is from environmental pollutants, especially heavy metals which build up in the body over years and are difficult to remove.
Patients who go to the Life Clinic with signs of accelerated aging, such as heart disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, will often have their heavy metals measured. If they are high, they will go through a process called EDTA chelation to help remove it.
Some people may be genetically more vulnerable to heavy metals or environmental toxins, explains Dr Chan, or they may not be able to remove them effectively enough from the body, causing undetected damage.
Usually, all it takes is a good nutritional and supplement program to support the gut and liver detoxification processes, combined with chelation to help remove the heavy metals, and the path of damage and progressive decline can often be halted, and the body begins to heal itself. Seemingly intractable cases of arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and eczema have all shown remarkable improvement with this type of approach.
Another reason we age is because of we begin to lose our hormones. Over the age of 30, our hormones begin to decline, and this is most dramatic in women as they approach the menopause around the age of 50. Suddenly the main sex hormone, estrogen, drops and women can suffer terribly “withdrawal symptoms” like agitation, sleepless nights, night sweats and hot flushes. This can go on for a few months to, in some cases, over 10 years, and has been known to drive women to near suicide. Men can suffer a type of menopause too, or “Male Menopause” as their main sex hormone, testosterone declines, but as it drops more gradually from their 30’s, it is usually less obvious. Symptoms can be weight gain, mood changes, loss of drive (and interest in sex), and aches and pains.
In both cases, a comprehensive look at the hormones is arranged on blood and saliva. Saliva testing has the advantage as it tells us how much of the sex hormones are actually getting in to the cells, Dr Chan says, rather than just floating around in the blood. Then it is simple cause of “topping up” the hormones with creams or capsules (or occasionally, monthly injections for convenience).
Balancing hormones with bio-identical hormones is the safest, Dr Chan says, as they often originate from plant source, like Soy or Yams, but are upgraded so that they become identical to our own natural hormones. Therefore, they have the same safety profile as our own hormones, and are metabolised or removed from the body in much the same way (unlike artificial hormone replacement therapy or “HRT” which few doctors prescribe now).
Many of the symptoms that come with aging, disappear once the hormone levels are restored to healthier, more youthful levels, Dr Chan says.
Once the body is “Repaired” and further damage is “Reduced”, most people already feel much younger, healthier and energetic.
For some, they will want the “crème de la crème” of healthy aging, which is to “Regenerate” lost tissue using growth factors from advances in Regenerative Medicine. This exciting new field of medicine is still in it’s infancy, but already sources of growth factors have been extracted from our own blood (platelets), donor placenta and stem cells (from donor umbilical cord or our own fat tissue). This has been used to help a number of conditions including Arthritis, Diabetes, Autism, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron Disease and Alzheimer’s with promising results.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what can be done, Dr Chan says. Aging healthily is very possible, he says, with mental clarity and physical good health. Unfortunately, there really is no magic “anti-aging pill or supplement” that will turn the clock back, but with a little bit of time and energy invested in our future aging, the rewards can pay dividends.
This certainly seems the case seeing the number of happy clients leaving the Life clinic, with more energy, clearer thinking, fewer sicknesses and a very positive outlook for the future.
If you have any further queries about our anti-aging services, please contact us by email email@example.com or call reception on 2881 8131.