Age Management is an important component of Dr. Hirsch’s Preventive Medicine practice. We are not just talking about turning back the hands of time, but also extending life in its most healthy and active states. We like the term “health span” and this is what we strive to extend. Cosmetic procedures can create an almost immediate exterior improvement, but it’s our inner wellness that brings youthfulness and vitality to the additional years of our lives.
All other aspects of our Preventive Medicine practice contribute to the Age Management process. Weight management and Optimal Hormone Balance are two of the main key components. The life changes we make to increase our “health span” also improve the youthfulness of the DNA in our chromosomes. This is accomplished by protecting and lengthening our telomeres (the protective endcaps at the tips of each of our chromosomes). Telomere health and length will be discussed in detail later in this section.
How can we live a longer, happier life? We enhance health span by optimizing each of the following aspects of our lives. Dr. Hirsch elaborates on these topics as needed during a patient’s individual assessment:
1) Nutrition: Eating fresh, natural, healthy, balanced food in multiple, small portions at regular intervals throughout our waking hours is fundamental. It’s essential to avoid everything artificial (flavors, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, preservatives, etc.), foods that contain hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modifications (GMO). Eliminating trans fats or processed fructose, limiting sugar, simple carbohydrates and most saturated fats is a good place to start. Do I need to even mention NO “FAST FOOD” OR SODA?! It is common knowledge that caloric restriction enhances longevity. We must eat for fuel, not for “pleasure center” stimulation.
2) Vitamins, supplements and anti-oxidants: Using these prudently along with adequate nutrition to optimize our bodily functions can be tricky. We recommend what is needed for each patient and only use pharmaceutical grade products (for professional use only). Most of what is available OTC (over the counter) contains little or none of the ingredients that are listed on the labels, and many contain contaminants. Regulation is unfortunately inadequate.
3) Ideal Body Composition: Being lean is essential to “optimal health”. We measure and monitor actual body composition and percent body fat, not the BMI. Our goal for our patients is to use nutrition, exercise and a healthy metabolism to succeed, not starvation or fad diets. Dr. Hirsch will help you determine, achieve and maintain your ideal body composition. Minimizing visceral fat is a “must”!
4) Exercise and Fitness: Consistent, proper exercise that incorporates resistance training, cardiovascular training, core strengthening, balance and stretching is necessary. A professional personal trainer is preferred if feasible; however, the best exercise is of minimal benefit if the body is unable to respond to these challenges and recover. This requires good sleep, optimal hormone balance, and of course, good nutrition.
5) Sleep: Most patents require 7-8 hours of consistent, healthy sleep. Sleep that includes deep (Stage 4) sleep and dreaming (REM) is necessary to recover from exercise and keep all bodily functions in a state of homeostasis. Hormone balance and stress reduction are essential. Patients with inadequate sleep are unable to lose weight or regulate blood sugar properly. Most prescription sleep medications are not helpful.
6) Optimal Hormone Balance: Nearly all of our hormone levels decrease as we age. Menopause is a dramatic example. Male hormones decrease also, but more gradually. This is often called “andropause.” Is it a secret that our bodies function better with youthful hormone levels? Yet traditional medicine ignores the art of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and sometimes claims “hormones cause cancer.” This is simply not true and refers to synthetic hormones that are not naturally found in the human body. Do you want the hormone levels of a ninety year old or those of a healthy forty year old? Dr. Hirsch specializes in natural, BHRT and uses this art as a part of age management. Our results are “special”…see what our patients are saying.
7) Stress reduction: This may sound simple, but it is complex and often difficult to achieve. We are all regularly exposed to stressful situations; how we handle them is the key. If we are well rested, lean, well nourished, fit, and have youthful and balanced hormone levels, we can better deal with stress. Poor stress management releases cortisol into our systems. This “stress hormone” increases our appetites, raises our blood sugar, stimulates the storage of fat and the breakdown of muscle, causes anxiety, and prevents good sleep. There are also many relaxation techniques that can be helpful.
8) Loving and being loved: This is an essential component of human happiness and fulfillment. Loving and respecting one’s self is most important. When people love themselves, they are then free to love others and receive love. Some examples are romantic love, family love, friendship, and even love to and from pets. Philanthropy can also generate this wonderful feeling. Taking care of yourself so you can love and take care of others brings a satisfaction that aids in health and youthfulness.
9) A healthy sex life: Yes really! Healthy sexual function can be a component of “loving and being loved”, but can also fall under the category of “use it or lose it”. This philosophy applies to many aspects of health and youthfulness. Is there anyone who does not enjoy this, really? No patient has ever “complained” to us about the return of libido and a rewarding sex life…they love it! They also get to experience a deeper connection with their partners.
10) Mental stimulation: This is essential to youthful mental function. Challenging work may get the job done, but puzzles and games that challenge the mind are also helpful. Lack of mental stimulation can cause static brain mapping, which can increase the incidence of Alzheimer’s. “Use it or lose it”.
11) Not smoking: This should be obvious by now, but we all still see smokers. Nothing ages the mind and body faster than smoking tobacco. Remember telomeres? Nothing shortens telomeres faster than smoking. No smoking, enough said!
12) Minimal alcohol: Excess alcohol accelerates the aging process. “Binge drinking” (periodically becoming intoxicated over a short period of time) is the most harmful. Distilled products are more harmful than naturally fermented beverages. In regards to health, the daily limit of wine for women is 3-4 ounces and for men is 6 ounces. Any more is harmful for our health and accelerates the aging process.
13) Long healthy telomeres: So, remember this topic? Every one of the aforementioned 12 components of age management increases the levels of an enzyme called “telomerase”. The discoverers of telomerase won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2009. This enzyme promotes longer, healthier, more youthful telomeres on our chromosomes so our DNA expresses itself more youthfully. There is only one supplement that is proven to increase telomerase levels, and it is called TA-65. Dr. Hirsch is licensed through Telomerase Activation Sciences to provide TA-65 to his patients. It is only available for patients over 40, but usually not recommended until after 50. TA-65 is usually not suggested at Hirsch Clinic unless the first twelve essential lifestyle changes are accomplished.