September 2012

Medical: Reversing Negative Effects of Aging

Author: Gaton Perez, MD, FAAFP | Photographer: Photography by Anne

My name is Gaston Perez, and I practice medicine in the Lowcountry. I grew up in Miami after my mother brought me to the U.S. from Cuba, and I have been practicing Family Medicine for 15 years. Helping people obtain maximal health and vitality through medicine has been my greatest passion.

One day, I found myself sitting in front of a 75-year-old-male whom I have been treating for the past 15 years for myriad problems (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, decreased libido, fatigue), stemming from the fact that he is 50 pounds overweight. If he could just drop the weight, most of his problems would be cured! I spend hours each day prescribing medicine that is a quick fix, but not curing the actual underlying illness. Pills alone cannot give you health.

A colleague of mine introduced me to a new idea in medicine that is an exciting approach to prevention and anti-aging medicine. This approach consists of diet, exercise, and hormone therapy. It is an invigorating introduction to health, wellness, weight loss, and hormone modulation. By optimizing hormone levels, a person can feel more youthful again. Hormone modulation does not increase hormones above normal levels. This is not the same as “steroid abuse” by athletes. Optimization is not overkill—the goal is to be in the upper part of the normal range.

As we age, most of us experience a drop in the levels of hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, growth hormone, and thyroid hormone. This drop was once considered to be a normal part of the aging process, but living with fatigue, cardiovascular disease, and low libido should not be considered “normal.” Aging affects the way we look, the way we feel, and our overall health. Can we stop the aging process? No. But can we decrease the “side effects” of aging? Yes! Age Management Medicine (AMM) is not the fountain of youth, but it is a way of increasing wellness and the overall quality of life, whether you are 30, 60, or 90 years old.

So, how will hormone therapy affect your health?
It will fine-tune the adrenal gland, which will lessen emotional and physical stress.
The thyroid starts working optimally again and the body’s metabolism will increase.
Optimizing levels of testosterone and estrogen for males and females, respectively, will lead to decreased cardiovascular disease risk, increased lean body mass, decreased visceral fat mass, decreased total cholesterol, and will promote glycemic control.

Furthermore, this approach to anti-aging medicine will also decrease your risk for heart attack, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, which are all common medical problems associated with aging. By modulating hormone levels, you can eliminate medications you have been taking for years.

Diet and exercise are also important in AMM. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the goal. A low fat, low glycemic diet that is high in vegetables is best. Most people fail to get an adequate amount of antioxidants in their diet. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals that cause damage to cells, which causes aging, cancer, and other diseases.

A diet rich in carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E is essential in fighting free radicals. Lastly, regular activity that increases your heart rate will help increase your cardiovascular fitness and help improve or prevent many of the conditions associated with aging. The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise are important in reducing inflammation in vasculature that leads to heart attack and stroke.

The bottom line is you can live life with increased energy, more muscle, less fat, greater mental agility, and better sex. Optimize yourself today!

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