By: Brooke Chenoweth
When most people hear the words “anti-ageing” they tend to think of expensive skin care creams, or more radical invasive surgery to maintain that glow of youth. But as Dr Lauren Bramley and her partners at their Hong Kong-based clinic explain, there is far more to turning back the clock. Your DNA, body chemistry, the right supplement and more can make you feel young again. The health of youth is more straightforward than you may think.
Today, anti-ageing is a field of medicine dedicated to the early detection, prevention and treatment of age-related decline. It’s one of the newest and fastest growing areas of medical research, with a focus on helping patients not only to look good, but to feel good physically as well, and for longer.
According to Dr Bramley, symptoms that come under the anti-ageing umbrella include depression, fatigue, low energy, stress, hormonal imbalances, joint pain and sexual dysfunction. There are, however, a number of simple steps everyone can follow, to improve and maintain optimal health.
Know your body – and be proactive
Rather than waiting for age-related issues to crop up, a consultation with an anti-ageing specialist will help uncover specific health needs and any age-related deficiencies. Regular health checks are highly beneficial for everyone, and there are some issues that can be specifically targeted with screening, which plays an important role in anti-ageing medicine.
- Watch your thyroid
A lack of energy, fluid retention and a lower body temperature may all be signs that your thyroid is struggling. Thyroid function is essential for your overall health and wellbeing so have it checked by a doctor if you suspect any issues.
- Monitor hormone levels
Dr Steven Leung says, “Hormone production starts to decrease from the age of 35, and by 40 years of age the decreased level may start to affect the optimum functioning of our 70 trillion cells. Regular (or annual) checks will keep tabs on these levels necessary to maintain optimum health. Both men and women should benefit equally. Bioidentical hormones, as well as supplements, are used to restore and rebalance levels back to optimum function.”
- Correct deficiencies
Taking a standard multivitamin and eating well isn’t always enough when it comes to getting all the nutrients you need. Certain factors like genetics can affect how your body absorbs nutrients. Chris Manton, the clinic’s naturopathic doctor, advises, “In-depth testing of your micronutrient status can give a clearer picture of what your body needs by highlighting any deficiency or absorption problems.”
- Reduce insulin levels
Have your insulin and glucose levels tested regularly, especially if you’re at risk of diabetes. Diabetes can cause long-term damage to your veins and arteries, increase inflammation and lead to weight gain and other health issues. The key to reducing your risk is prevention.
- Limit exposure to heavy metal toxicity
Unfortunately, in our modern environments we are often exposed to heavy metals like mercury in the seafood we eat, old dental fillings, medicines, personal care products, and water and air pollution. As they accumulate, these metals may pass from the blood to the tissues, where they can potentially cause serious long-term health problems. Heavy metals in your system can be tested for and treated.
- Eat well and exercise
As we age, changes in our body make it easier to pile on the pounds – our metabolism slows, muscles atrophy and hormone levels change. If you sailed through your 20s and 30s without having to make an effort to stay trim, you’ll have to get more active in middle age to not gain body fat. “Both cardio and weight-bearing exercises are good, however it’s the weight-bearing exercises that are more likely to help you lose body fat,” says Dr Nichola Salmond. “I wear a fitness tracking wristband to help me become more aware of my own body and how my lifestyle affects it.”
Know Your Supplements
Did you know?: Astaxanthin, a molecule of the carotenoid family found in certain marine algae, is the pigment that lends its reddish hue that creates beautiful reds and pinks we see in fish such as salmon and in marine birds like flamingos. The health benefits of astaxanthin are diverse: taken as an anti-aging supplement, it protects organs throughout the body from the ravages of oxidant stress, inflammation, glycation, and mitochondrial dysfunction.
There are four supplements that may have anti-ageing benefits on a number of fronts.
- Vitamin D3: a hormone found everywhere in the body. It plays a vital role in preventing cancer, regulating metabolism, and supporting the thyroid and immune system.
- Astaxanthin: a potent antioxidant derived from marine algae. Taking this supplement daily may decrease inflammation, protect the heart and blood vessels, reduce joint pain, improve eye function, and aid in injury recovery.
- Omega 3: found in fish oil. Omega 3 may also decrease inflammation and cardiovascular disease, while improving brain function and skin conditions. Ideally, Omega 3 should be obtained from food sources, but supplements are available if this is not possible.
- Melatonin: a sleep hormone. A melatonin supplement can help regulate your circadian rhythm, correcting the imbalances caused by stress and decreased serotonin levels. A good night’s sleep can work wonders for your body and mood.
Genetically modified food, pesticides, artificial food additives, and a poor diet can all have adverse effects. Dr Bramley recommends that everyone read food labels. She says, “Despite some foods having health benefits, the way they are grown and processed can have an impact on your health. It’s always important to consider where your food is coming from and what is going into it.”
It’s impossible to overstate the impact that happiness can have on a person’s health and wellbeing. Simply enjoying life, having fun and looking after yourself, physically and mentally, can be one of your greatest weapons in the fight against ageing.
Dr Lauren Bramley has practiced primarily as a family physician since 1996. In 2009, she became a full member of the World Society of Anti-Ageing Medicine and the American Board of Anti-Ageing Medicine. In 2012, she completed a Masters degree in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.
Dr Lauren Bramley & Partners
9/F, Pacfic House, 20 Queen’s Road, Central