Loss of independence is the worst fear of the aging adult. For many elderly adults this loss is a slow gradual process due to chronic metabolic diseases. Few people today understand how their bodies actually work and they assume that it is “natural” or part of the “aging process” to develop high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, impotence and muscle weakness. The medical culture in the USA focuses on treating the symptoms of the sick and does very little to prevent the common chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death and disability- and are preventable. If you do not understand how your body works you will likely develop a chronic metabolic illness and you will be given prescription medication and likely told it is part of “growing old” when in fact it is not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] clearly attest to this statement: lack of exercise, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and alcohol cause much of the current chronic metabolic diseases, pain and early deaths. Most adults do not follow the CDC ‘s recommendations. Modern primary care physicians are trained to treat metabolic problems such as hypertension, adult onset insulin resistant diabetes [type 2], erectile dysfunction, coronary artery disease, stroke and dementia. Few physicians provide detailed information on how to prevent these diseases and this is truly the most important medical knowledge that everyone needs. Maintaining good health through diet, exercise, and up-to-date knowledge is ultimately the responsibility of each individual. The best solution is to read and follow the advice in my book “Over 40 and Sexy as Hell”. Most people today accept the minimal advise that their family doctors and nurse practitioners give them and most patients take some of the pills prescribed. These medications such as metformin, metoprolol, and atorvastatin are good medications but they do not cure diseases. These pills palliate diseases by hiding the signs of disease giving patients a false sense of security and telling them that they can continue to live their unhealthy life style. It is “OK” because “I take my blood pressure medication, my cholesterol medication, and my pills for my elevated glucose”. The most difficult challenge today is changing your lifestyle and eliminating the need for these pills. How many pills do you take? The real benefit to removing hypertension, insulin resistant diabetes, and vascular diseases is that you will live longer, feel stronger and remain independent longer. Every organ in your body including your brain will perform better. Yes even your sex life will improve.
EARLY SIGNS THAT YOUR BODY NEEDS HELP:
- You have difficulty falling asleep. This is likely due to stress in your life and an elevation of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Sleep is your body’s method of recovery from your daily stress, but if the stress is too great-the cortisol levels remain high-insomnia results. There are 3 possible solutions: resolve the issues that cause the stress; relieve the stress through exercise, which will lower your cortisol levels; take a sleep aid-a pill. The issues may take a long time to resolve. Exercise is the best option since it solves the problem quickly. Developing a pill habit leads to more potential complications.
- You are getting shorter. Your height has decreased because your bones are losing calcium due to a dietary lack of calcium-poor nutrition-or a deficiency of vitamin D. These nutritional deficiencies allow your spinal bones to flatten-compression fractures. Adult height loss can also be caused by curvature of the spine-kyphosis- due to nutritional deficiencies as above and muscle weakness.
- Your body is shaped like an apple with your abdominal girth-waist size- bigger than your hip measurements. Visceral body fat is the fat that accumulates around your waist and correlates well with the development of metabolic diseases such as type2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease. This problem can be solved only with both diet and exercise together.
- You have little energy. Fatigue can be caused by a variety of problems: low thyroid hormone, low testosterone, poor nutrition, and abnormal metabolism. Your brain can decrease your metabolic rate. This problem can be cured with diet, exercise, and appropriate supplements.
INCREASED INFLAMMATORY PRODUCTS
INCREASED BODY FAT
LOSS OF MUSCLE MASS-STRENGTH
YOUR BODY CHANGES WITH AGE:
It is difficult to define the “aging” process as distinct from disease or identifiable pathologic processes that can occur at any age. We do not exactly know what causes aging in every adult, but we have collected a significant amount of data to help explain some of the changes that occur as we age. There are 8 common changes that occur as your body ages from 40 to 60 plus years of age in addition to those associated with metabolic changes. These 8 common changes are familiar to all and all can be treated or improved with diet, exercise, and supplements:  memory loss;  bone and joint pain;  vision loss;  loss of skin elasticity;  frailty or muscular weakness do to muscle loss;  loss of sexual function/interest; increase in body fat;  loss of bone density.
Exercise will improve your memory [K. I. Erickson et al; PNAS 108(7); 2011; P3017-3011]. In the elderly the memory part of the brain called the hippocampus shrinks in size as memory decreases. Exercise and nutrition will increase the size of the hippocampus and cause memory improvement thus reversing the effects of aging.
The obesity of aging is significantly associated with increased osteoarthritis of the knees due to the increased mechanical stress placed on the knees by the increased body fat and the compensatory alterations in body mechanics [A. J. Hartz et al; J. Chronic Diseases 39(4); 1986; p311-319]. If you lose the body fat you will be able to regain your normal gait pattern [gait is the way you walk] and your knee pains will decrease. Strengthening the core muscles is essential in eliminating lower back pain. Exercise and core muscle strength will eliminate the need for back and knee surgery if started before serious damage occurs.
Visual field loss [vision loss] is associated strongly with decreased mobility [K. A. Turano et al; Optometry and Vision Science 81(5); 2004; p298-307]. Another aspect of vision loss is the small blood vessel damage associated with diabetes and insulin resistance caused by obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. If you prevent insulin resistance and prevent diabetes [as outlined in my book] you can save your vision.
We start losing muscle mass at age thirty plus and we become weaker, sedentary and gain body fat. With increased visceral fat cells your body produces more inflammatory products that damage the small blood vessels throughout your body leading to dementia, coronary artery disease (heart disease), kidney dysfunction, and other areas of organ damage. As growth hormones, androgen, and estrogen levels diminish with age we loose tissue elasticity and wrinkles increase [E.Makrantonaki and C. C. Zouboulis; Experimental Gerontology 42(9); 2007; p879-886]. Exercise and supplements are able to restore these hormone levels to normal values thus reversing the skin elasticity-the wrinkles will disappear and your skin will tighten. You will not need plastic surgery. In regard to loss of sexual interest and performance-this is a complicated issue involving multiple organ systems. Suffice it to say that exercise, diet and supplements will raise sex hormone levels to their normal ranges. If a hormone deficiency is the cause of the problem; this can be cured with knowledge, diet, exercise and supplements. If your problems are complicated by severe peripheral vascular disease, severe degenerative joint disease, and myocardial muscle loss, they will be more difficult to correct. Your body fat increases with age as you lose muscle mass starting in your thirties. You will lose approximately 1% of your muscle mass each year starting in your thirties and by age 60 it is possible to have lost 30% of your muscle tissues. As you age your bone density decreases and you become shorter. Bone loss with age is a common occurrence. Bone mass peaks at ages 25–30 years and then decreases slowly in both men and women [Helen J O’ Flarity; Toxicology Sciences 55(1); 1999; p171-188]. The amount of bone loss in older people is determined by many factors, including diet, exercise, calcium and vitamin D nutrition; hormone levels; gender; and genetics.
It is possible to change this pattern of muscle loss with nutrition, exercise, and hormonal normalization. Master athletes defined as performing vigorous exercises 4 to 5 times per week; ages 40 to 81 years of age had similar amounts of muscle mass and strength [A.P. Wroblewski et al; Phys. Sportsmed 39(3); 2011;172-178]. Thus some of the decline in muscle mass in the elderly is due to chronic disuse – lack of exercise. Nutrition is also very important because protein is required for muscle development. In older muscle cells a higher level of leucine and essential amino acids are required for muscle growth [S. Fujita ad E. Volpi; J.Nutr. 136(1); 2006; 2775-2805]. Thus a HIGH PROTEIN DIET is essential for muscle growth. There is also a decline in sex hormone levels with aging. Men and women with low testosterone levels, regardless of cause, show a dramatic increase in muscle mass and loss of body fat when given testosterone supplements to return their blood hormone levels to normal values. Vigorous exercise alone will increase both muscle mass and hormone leveIs [J.M. Zemuda et al; Metabolism 45(8); 1996; 935-939]. Estrogen is also necessary for muscle growth by stimulating the “satellite cells” that repair damaged muscle cells and stimulate new muscle growth [D. L. Enns and P. M.Tildus; J Appl Physiol 104(2); 2008; 347-353]. Normal sex hormone levels and thyroid hormone levels are necessary in both men and women for muscle growth. Optimal skeletal muscle growth occurs with testosterone levels in the upper levels of normal. It is my firm belief based on the above studies and data that it is possible to build muscle at any age with vigorous RESISTANCE TRAINING, SUPPLEMENTS, a HIGH PROTEIN DIET and normal HORMONE levels.
SET A HIGHER STANDARD FOR YOURSELF
From my perspective and as a professional trainer of both men and women my first-hand experience tells me “anyone can get better at any age” as long as you patiently remain on a healthy life-style with diet and exercise and supplements. This is truly the race won by the turtle. If you “let go” by smoking, excessive alcohol, and higher caloric food it is not simply the aging process that is making you fat-it is you. If you are in a hurry to lose weight and choose a “crash” ultra low calorie diet you will fail as well because you will lose both muscle, fat and strength and will not be able to maintain the fat loss. Your estrogen and testosterone levels will drop and your cortisol [stress] levels will increase making you feel weak and depressed [R.Cangemi et al; Aging Cell 9 (2); 2010; 236-242] and [A J Tamiyama et al; Psychosomatic Medicine 72(4); 2010; p357-364]. Your brain will detect your decrease in calories and will fight you by decreasing your metabolic rate and by increasing the hormones that regulate hunger. Your new behavior pattern is not sustainable and you will return to your previous “bad habits”. The only way to have a successful outcome is to increase your daily exercise and lose body fat slowly-thus increasing your metabolic rate and decreasing your hunger through exercise and a healthy lifestyle/diet. In order to look younger, and feel stronger, and live longer “do not let go”. Think of yourself and your new life style as a higher standard that sets you apart from your previous life.