What is aging and how do we age?
Aging can be defined as any change to an individual organism over time. Aging is associated with several interdependent processes. These processes are physical, social and psychological in nature. Aging usually negatively affects physiological attributes such as strength, reaction time and the ability to fight disease.
Indeed, aging may be divided into two very different concepts: chronological age and biological age. In celebrating a birthday (which is a celebration of chronological age), it is often true that the performance of an individuals body systems-from mental function to sexual performance to physical strength-are better or worse than would be expected when compared with same-aged colleagues (this being an example of biological age).
There are many theories of aging, while none fully expresses the how’s and why’s for the process of aging, each accounts for some aspect of the process.
The Wear and Tear Theory explains that the body and its cells are damaged by overuse and abuse. The organs (liver, stomach, kidneys, skin, etc.) are worn down by toxins in the diet and in the environment; by excess consumption of fat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine; by the ultraviolet rays of the sun; and by the many other physical and emotional stresses to which we subject our bodies.
Even if you’ve never touched a cigarette or had a glass of wine, if you’ve stayed out of the sun and have eaten only natural goods, simply using the organs in your body is ultimately going to wear them out. By abusing them, you will only wear them out more quickly. Therefore, as your body ages, your very cells feel the effects, no matter how healthy your lifestyle.
When you are young, your body’s own maintenance and repair systems keep compensating for the effects of both normal and excessive wear and tear. (That’s why young people can more easily get away with a night of heavy drinking or a binge of pizza or sweets.) With age, your body loses its ability to repair damage, whether caused by diet, environmental toxins, bacteria or viruses. Thus, many elderly people die of diseases that they could have resisted when they were younger.
The concept of Wear and Tear therefore may be said to differ from person to person, depending upon the lifestyle of each and the methods used to reverse the wear and tear.
The Neuroendocrine Theory elaborates the Wear and Tear Theory by focusing on the neuroendocrine system, which is a complicated network of biochemistry that governs the release of hormones and other vital bodily elements. Hormones are vital for repairing and regulating your bodily functions, and when aging causes a drop in hormone production, it causes a decline in your body’s ability to repair and regulate itself as well. Moreover, hormone production is highly interactive: the drop in production of any one hormone is likely to have a feedback effect on the whole mechanism, signaling other organs to release lower levels of other hormones, which will cause other body parts to release lower levels of yet other hormones. There are other theories of aging which will be discussed in the next article.
Today, scientists know much more about the deterioration and vulnerability to disease that typifies the aging process. As such, aging gains a new definition. Aging is not inevitable. A modern approach submits that the disabilities associated with normal aging are caused by the physiological dysfunction that, in many cases, is ameliorable to medical treatment. By systematically revitalizing the biological processes involved in aging, the human life span can be increased while the quality of life is maintained or improved.
What is Anti-Aging Medicine?
Anti-Aging Medicine (AAM) is a relatively new field in Medicine. Anti-Aging Medicine – the application of any therapy or modality that delivers very early detection, prevention, treatment, or reversal of aging-related dysfunction and disease, thus enhancing the quality, and extending the quantity of the human life span – is the most important new model for health care for this new millennium.
Anti-Aging Medicine was founded in 1993, by a small group of physicians and scientists, convened by Dr. Ronald Klatz and Dr. Robert Goldman, dedicated to slowing, and eventually halting, the aging process. They described an innovative model for health care that focused on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders and diseases. Anti-Aging Medicine was born. In the decade that since followed, Anti-Aging Medicine has achieved international recognition. Anti-Aging Medicine is now practiced by thousands of physicians in private medical offices, as well as in some of the most prestigious teaching hospitals around the world. Many medical schools now include Anti-Aging in their programs, and physicians have clocked hundreds of thousands of hours of advanced medical education to train in this new medical specialty. Udayana University in Bali offered the first Masters program in Anti-Aging Medicine in the world, which was started on August 2007.
The science of Anti-Aging Medicine is creating a new paradigm of health care and is taking a new approach to aging and to medicine, showing us a new reality for humankind, and adulthood free from fear of disease, infirmity, and lingering death in old age.
To understand the concept of Anti-Aging Medicine, realize that, with the exception of infection and some childhood disorders, the vast majority of degenerative disease shares but one common characteristic: Aging Itself! Alzheimer’s disease, most cancers, heart disease, non-insulin dependent diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, stroke, death by pneumonia and influenza, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and the myriad of maladies linked to advancing age commonly afflict only those over age forty: The Age of Lost Youth and the Portal to Seniority.
Anti-Aging Medicine is a clinical specialty that extends the concept of preventive health care to embrace the very early detection, prevention and reversal of aging-related disease, coupled with the aggressive, yet gentle disease treatment. Anti-Aging Medicine has accelerated the pace of advancements in health promotion and prevention, and is the most important new model for health care for this new millennium. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take full advantage of all that the Anti-Aging medical revolution can offer.
Dr. Ristie Darmawan, MD