The Life Extension Revolution: The New Science of Growing Older without Agingby Philip Lee Miller M.D.
Here is a detailed action plan for people in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond who want to maintain physical vigor, mental clarity, and youthful appearance-and prevent the so-called diseases of aging by warding them off at the cellular level. It features cutting-edge science from the Life Extension Foundation, the world's largest organization dedicated to anti-aging research, plus the practical clinical experience of anti-aging specialist Dr. Philip Miller, who has transformed his patients' lives with this approach.
This responsible, comprehensive program integrates mainstream therapies and medications with scientifically tested nutrients, hormones, diet, and holistic approaches from around the world. Whether your goal is avoiding the health problems you've seen in your parents, or simply enjoying your life as fully and as long as possible, this authoritative guide can take you there.
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The Life Extension Revolution
By Philip Lee Miller, M.D. and the Life Extension Foundation with Monica Reinagel
Random HousePhilip Lee Miller, M.D. and the Life Extension Foundation with Monica Reinagel
All right reserved.
A New Role for Medicine
Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old.
Brian became a patient of mine about three years ago. He was 47 years old. He came to see me not because he was sick but because he wanted to feel better. Brian had built a successful software consulting firm and had worked hard to keep his business going while the high-tech industry went through difficult times. Now he was looking forward to enjoying the fruits of his labors. “I feel like the next twenty years should be the best of my entire life,” he told me, “and I want to be in good health. No, in the best health possible.”
By all conventional measures, Brian was in fairly good health already. Nonetheless, he felt that he was slowing down. He wasn't planning to retire for another ten years or so, but he was finding it harder and harder to stay focused and motivated at work. His sex life with his wife had tapered off. To add insult to injury, he noticed that his hair was getting thinner at about the same rate that his waistline was getting thicker. In short, Brian was experiencing physical and mental changes typical for someone his age.
Tina first consulted me at age 66, a little over a year ago. Like Brian, she wasn't sick but was sure she could feel better than she did. Tina is a gregarious, widely traveled woman who has always loved meeting new people and new challenges. She'd been looking forward to her retirement as a time when she'd be free for travel and adventure. But she'd noticed that she had begun to have trouble remembering details and names and felt more easily fatigued. “I hate feeling like a befuddled old woman,” she said. “It's just not who I am!”
Widowed eight years before, Tina was still a warm and vibrant woman with a lot to offer. She was open to the possibility of meeting someone to enjoy her later years with. But she was becoming less confident about her appearance. She felt that she looked older than she was—and certainly older than she felt. Although everything Tina described was fairly normal for a 66-year-old, she was frustrated and upset by the changes she was noticing.
Both Brian and Tina wanted to know what anti-aging medicine could offer.
THE PROMISE OF ANTI-AGING MEDICINE
Twenty-five years ago, it probably wouldn't have occurred to someone in Brian or Tina's situation to seek help from a doctor. It would have been even harder to find a doctor who would have known what to do for them. Neither one of them was significantly overweight; neither smoked or drank to excess. Because they took reasonably good care of themselves, neither was suffering (yet) from heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions that might require treatment. By conventional standards, there was nothing wrong with them. They were in acceptable health . . . for their age.
By those standards, people such as Tina and Brian could do little besides wait for the aging process to unfold, and hope for the best. Along the way, doctors would assure them that aches and pains, failing body parts, and increasing weakness and frailty were simply a normal part of the aging process. As the diseases of aging (heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer, etc.) set in, drugs would be prescribed to manage them.
Most people are accustomed to this style of medicine—and this rather hopeless view of the aging process. Anti-aging medicine, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. Whereas the focus of conventional medicine is on the diagnosis and treatment of disease, the goal of anti-aging medicine is to promote optimal health and wellness throughout every phase of the human life span. This visionary approach is built on four basic but radical principles:
xAnti-aging medicine is functional. By this, I mean that we are not just concerned with what might be going wrong in your body. Instead, we aim to improve and rejuvenate every function of the body—making the body stronger, healthier, and more youthful.
xAnti-aging medicine is preventive. Once full-blown disease has taken hold, even the best drugs and therapies sometimes offer only limited hope. Therefore, we take aggressive action to prevent the diseases of aging with nutritional and metabolic therapies.
xAnti-aging medicine is holistic. Too often, the conventional medical system sees patients as a collection of parts to be fixed by various specialists. As a result, many people continue to feel lousy despite the fact that they have an entire team of doctors working on them. By contrast, anti-aging medicine takes a holistic view of the body and of each person. Each aspect of your health is considered and treated in view of the whole person.
xAnti-aging medicine is integrative. Unfortunately, our medical community has been fractured into highly politicized camps, with a great deal of mistrust and even hostility between the conventional and alternative movements. There are some conventional doctors who insist that all herbal and nutritional remedies are snake oil, just as there are some alternative physicians who consider all pharmaceutical drugs to be poison. Of course, neither of these extreme statements is true, and this sort of dogmatic rigidity gets in the way of progress. Anti-aging medicine offers the distinct advantage of being truly integrative medicine. By remaining open-minded but science-based, we can combine the best and most effective therapies from conventional and alternative approaches.
It may indeed be normal for people to get weaker, slower, sicker, or more forgetful as they get older. But I want something better for my patients, and for you. No matter what your age or health status right now, my goal is for you to experience a state of exceptional wellness, and to maintain that healthier, more youthful state as you get older. That, in a nutshell, is the goal—and the promise—of anti-aging medicine.
DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE
With both Tina and Brian, I went through the same steps that you will be going through in this book, building a comprehensive anti-aging program that was personalized for their individual needs. First, we analyzed every aspect of their health, including hormone levels, nutrient status, organ function, body composition, stress levels, disease risk factors, mood, performance, and cognitive function. All of these factors are biomarkers of aging. They indicate the functional status of your cells and organs and reveal how quickly or slowly you are aging.
Based on this information, I developed programs for each of them. First, I coached them on diet and nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and other lifestyle factors that are the foundation of an anti-aging program. (You'll find these discussed in detail in Part III.) Gradually, each of them implemented a customized program of anti-aging nutrients and hormonal supplements, based on the science and principles that we will be discussing in the next chapters. Over the course of weeks and months, as their cells, organs, and glands began to function better and better, both Brian and Tina began to notice big changes.
Six weeks after beginning his anti-aging program, Brian was already feeling on top of the world. He was fired up at work, instead of fighting off the Monday (and often Tuesday and Wednesday) blues. He'd lost about 8 pounds, although he had not been eating any less, and reported that things in the bedroom had taken off. “I feel like I did when I was a freshman in college,” he said. Brian couldn't wait to continue with the next levels of the program. Three years later, he has met and exceeded every goal he set for himself.
If you met Brian today, you'd probably guess he was at least ten years younger than he is. Although his chronological age is now 50, I would judge his biological age, as measured by his hormone profiles, neurological function, heart health, immune status, organ function, and body composition, to be somewhere between 38 and 43, and holding. Seeing a patient experience this sort of metamorphosis is the reason I love practicing anti-aging medicine.
Tina also felt a huge surge in energy during the first few weeks of her anti-aging program. Over the next three months, she noted steady improvement in her memory and recall and general mental clarity. Instead of feeling her horizons narrowing, Tina felt that the world was once again her playground.
Not only did she feel better, but Tina also looked younger as a result of the anti-aging therapies she implemented. You could see the difference in her skin, the way she moved, and her attitude. Coming back from a trip, she told me that a man in the group who was ten years younger than she was had asked her for a date! “I never thought I'd see those days again,” she said. A year later, Tina says she hates to think what her life would look like today if she hadn't taken action against aging.
Throughout this book you will meet more people like Tina and Brian, who not only feel and look years younger as a result of anti-aging therapies but have also pulled themselves back from the brink of serious disease, resolved lifelong health issues, and reduced or discontinued unnecessary or harmful medications.
No matter what your age or current health, anti-aging medicine offers you the same opportunity. With the program outlined in this book and the help of a qualified anti-aging medical professional, you can rejuvenate your body inside and out. You can vastly reduce your chances of disease and disability. You can enjoy the most vibrant health of your lifetime.
HOW AND WHY DO WE AGE?
The key to controlling the aging process lies in a better understanding of how and why we age the way we do. Only then can we take steps to slow or reverse that process. In just the past few years, we have gathered an enormous amount of new information about how our bodies age. This insight has already led to dramatic advances in effective anti-aging therapies, with the promise of more to come in the very near future.
Aging, we have learned, is not just a matter of mechanical wear and tear, cellular exhaustion, environmental toxins, or genetic programming. It is not simply hormonal, nor is it caused entirely by free radical damage, pathogens, or structural changes. And yet, all of these things play a role.
xCellular “programming.” To a certain extent, the decline in function and wellness we experience as we age is programmed by nature. The cells in your body are continually reproducing, replacing old and damaged cells with new ones. But every cell, even the ones that are newly formed, has an internal clock that remembers how old you are. That clock determines how that cell behaves, affecting how quickly the cell responds to messages from other cells and what quantities of hormones, enzymes, and other cellular chemicals are produced.
xBiochemistry. As cellular behavior changes with age, the result- ing changes in biochemistry and hormone profiles have a sort of domino effect throughout the body. Your metabolism slows, and more fat is stored under the skin and around organs. The body breaks down muscle and connective tissue more quickly, while its rebuilding capacities slow down. The digestive system becomes less efficient at extracting nutrients from food. Cells and organs become less effective at detoxification functions. Nerve cells in the brain shrink and stiffen. The immune system becomes less vigilant against invading microbes or mutated cells.
xEnvironmental influences. The effects of changing biochemistry on your organs and tissues are compounded by factors from the external environment. Every day, our bodies are bombarded by ultraviolet radiation, assaulted by free radical molecules, and exposed to a multitude of bugs and germs as well as natural and man-made toxins. All of these interact with our genetic “program” to speed (or slow) the aging process.
xHeredity. In addition to the changes that are programmed to occur as we get older, we each also have a unique set of inherited genetic influences that affect how quickly or slowly we age, and may predispose us to certain diseases or conditions.
xLifestyle factors. Our daily lifestyle habits, such as how much sleep we get, how much stress we are under, and what we eat or don't eat, also play a huge role in how our bodies cope with the internal and external factors that drive the aging process.
We'll be discussing all of these aspects in greater detail in the coming chapters. But even this brief outline shows that aging is a very complex process involving many factors. Figure 1.1 on the following page shows how these various factors interact with one another and flow down through multiple, overlapping layers of cause and effect. Notice that the typical symptoms and diseases of aging, seen at the very bottom of the diagram, are actually the culmination of a very long process that begins much earlier, long before we are old or even middle-aged.
THE AGING YOU CAN SEE IN THE MIRROR
Let's make this abstract discussion a bit more concrete by looking at a specific example of the aging process—one you can observe in the mirror. As we get older, the smooth, firm, and unlined skin we all have when we are young gradually becomes looser, less firm, and increasingly creased and wrinkled.
Like all aging, skin aging is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. As we get older, changes in cellular behavior lead to changes in hormone levels that cause the skin to become thinner. The barrier function of the skin, which attracts and retains moisture in the skin, also becomes less effective, making the skin drier as well.
Underneath the skin is a flexible support structure made up of collagen fibers. But aging skin cells produce more collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down collagen. At the same time, the cells become less responsive to signals that tell them to increase production of fresh collagen. Because the skin is breaking down collagen faster than it is replacing it, the collagen layer underneath the skin begins to shrink and collapse. On the surface, the skin becomes loose and spongy and begins to fold in on itself, forming lines and wrinkles.
All of this is part of the genetic program for aging. The speed and timing of your particular aging program will be determined in part by heredity. But environmental factors greatly compound these genetically triggered changes in skin function. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun further stimulates the production of collagenase, the enzyme that breaks down collagen. It also creates enormous numbers of free radicals in the skin. That's where lifestyle issues (diet and nutrition) come into play. If there are sufficient antioxidant reserves in the body, excessive free radicals are largely neutralized.
Excerpted from The Life Extension Revolution by Philip Lee Miller, M.D. and the Life Extension Foundation with Monica Reinagel Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
PHILIP LEE MILLER, M.D., is the founder and medical director of the Los Gatos Longevity Institute. A practicing clinician for more than thirty years, he is a diplomate of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Life Extension Foundation. The Life Extension Foundation, or LEF, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to finding scientific methods of preventing and treating disease, aging, and death. In addition to developing unique disease treatment protocols, the Life Extension Foundation funds pioneering scientific research with vitamins, minerals, and supplements aimed at achieving an extended healthy human lifespan. At the heart of the Life Extension Foundation’s mission are its research programs for identifying and developing new therapies to slow and reverse the deterioration of aging.
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