The elusive Fountain of Youth has been sought after for centuries. Its healing waters were thought to preserve life and halt the aging process. Beginning with the Greeks in the 5th century B.C., the Fountain of Youth has made its way through history. Many thought they had discovered it with Alexander the Great in the 4th century A.D. all the way to Ponce de Leon who, after traveling with Christopher Columbus to the Americas, claimed it can be found in Florida. Both women and men have been fascinated throughout the ages with how to maintain their youth and reverse the aging process.
What is Aging?
The scientific explanation of aging is rooted in biology with the molecular breakdown and damage of the body’s cells over time. Cells age based on the number of times they are replicated. This is called cellular aging. As we go about the day our cells are constantly converting food into energy. This act of metabolizing food into energy causes cells to break down over time. Called metabolic aging, some believe that slowing down metabolism can slow down the aging process in humans. In general, the act of aging is associated with many physiological, mental, and cosmetic changes that occur during the course of life.
Typical effects of aging include:
- Graying hair or hair loss
- Loosening/wrinkling of skin
- Hearing loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Osteoporosis and/or brittle bones
- General slowing down in physical function
- Decrease in sexual desire
- Worsening of any chronic health condition
Many other health conditions are a result of the aging process.
Why Do We Age?
Because there is nothing to stop the passage of time, aging is an ongoing process. Some aging factors are within our control such as our diet, lifestyle, self-care, etc. But other factors such as our environment and genetics are not as controllable.
Environmental factors such as UV sun exposure, water, pollution, and toxins in the air all contribute to the aging process. Most people associate wrinkles and age spots on their skin with aging. These are also accelerated by sun exposure and cigarette smoking. Your skin loses its ability to retain moisture over time and becomes increasingly dry as you age. Cold and dry climates increase skin dryness even more which increases skin wrinkles. People who live in a more humid climate can experience better skin hydration and even fewer wrinkles from environmental factors. A daily moisturizer can also offset the skin aging process. Additionally, the environment does not just increase skin aging. It affects your internal organs as well. Air pollution and smog can increase lung and heart diseases and contribute to several other anomalies.
Just like other conditions and diseases, the effects of aging can be inherited. Research shows that children of parents who live long lives are more likely to live a longer life – and longer life spans tend to run in families. Age related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer have been shown to appear later in life for children of “healthy” parents. Genetics play a role in the aging process, but so does the lifestyle choices of parents. Children tend to adopt many of the lifestyle habits of their parents. Smoking, exercise, spirituality, and diet choices are just a few lifestyle choices that parents inculcate into their children.
It’s true – you can look older just because you are eating poorly. A diet that is high in sugar, starches and fatty foods can cause inflammation in the body that accelerates aging. You will look and feel better if you can avoid fried foods and food deep-fried in oil. They will make you look puffy and raise your bad cholesterol (LDL). Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and pepperoni have nitrates and can also cause inflammation in the body. You will feel and look younger with a diet that includes vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins such as salmon, chicken, or turkey.
One dilemma of aging is a reduced need for calories – even though aging does not reduce your need to get necessary vitamins. As we age our body produces less stomach acid with negatively affects how well your body absorbs nutrients from the food you eat. It becomes even more important to eat a healthy diet as you age.
Your diet and hormones go hand in hand. A poor diet can exacerbate hormonal imbalances.
Hormones play a primary role in the aging process. They are front and center in development beginning in childhood and progressing through adolescence, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. As people age they produce less hormones and the number of hormone receptors on cell surfaces decrease.
Estrogen decreases as women age, reaching an all-time low during menopause. This estrogen decrease is a primary culprit of drying skin that causes the lines around your forehead, eyes, and mouth. Collagen levels also dip with the decrease in estrogen which causes your skin to become thinner. The hyaluronic acid produced by estrogen helps your skin look younger and helps you maintain your body mass, energy and metabolism levels.
Progesterone is the regulatory hormone for balancing estrogen levels. Progesterone also decreases your body’s reliance on the hormone cortisol, which ages the skin. There are many benefits to balanced progesterone that affect aging. It is a natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety hormone and a sleep aid – all of which affect how your body ages.
Testosterone levels affect the skin much like estrogen. The higher your testosterone, the firmer and tighter your skin appears. In men, low testosterone (low-T) is associated with wrinkles, muscle loss, thinning hair, and weight gain. Although testosterone levels are thought to be most important for men, these levels are important for women also. Testosterone improves a woman’s ability to stay fit and lean which slows down effects of aging. It also increases oil level in the skin that can improve dull and dry aging skin.
Thyroid hormone contributes directly to your appearance as you age. Thinning hair, dry skin, brittle nails, feeling tired and looking puffy are all results of low thyroid levels. Low thyroid levels, called hypothyroidism, can also cause your voice to become hoarse and your mind to experience impaired concentration and memory. Elevated thyroid levels, hyperthyroidism, causes your body to feel like it is speeding up. This can lead to a rapid heartbeat, vision and sleep disturbances, tremors, sudden paralysis, and nervousness. Thyroid disorders become more common as a person ages and can be hereditary.
Bioidentical Hormones and Designer Hormone Therapy
You can help combat aging by wearing sunscreen, eating properly, exercising, and leading a healthy lifestyle free of unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Addressing hormonal imbalances that occur as you age can help you improve your appearance and feel younger. Hormones are involved in almost every component of human biology.
Bioidentical hormones are identical to the hormones which are produced naturally in your body. They are so identical, in fact, that your body cannot distinguish the difference. These hormones are easily assimilated into the body and your body recognizes them as their own which reduces side effects or potential risks.
The Riegel Center in Plano, Texas focuses on bioidentical hormone therapies for women and men who are 30+ years of age with symptoms of age-related hormonal changes. The Riegel Center of Plano offers exclusive designer therapies conceived of, developed and available only through Dr. Riegel. A recognized hormone expert who specializes in age management medicine, Dr. Riegel offers exclusive therapies that are customized for your exact hormone levels. Virtual hormone therapy appointments are available which makes it easy to start your hormone replacement therapy with The Riegel Center and hormone treatments are available to be shipped directly to your home or office in all 50 states. Visit our website today to get started.
Wondering if you can benefit from bioidentical hormone therapy? Take our Hormone Balance Quiz to find out!