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Older and wiser

November 18th, 2015


Older and wiser

Nobody wants to be old, but sadly it is an inevitable fact of life. Being old comes with a lot of undesirable changes – saggy skin, grey hair, and body parts that don’t really function the way they used to.

It is hard to say what age is considered to be the beginning of “old”. Generally, when we advance into our 60’s, we are considered old (I used to consider 50 as “old” when I was in my 40). However, a person actually has two ages – biological age and chronological age. Biological age is how old your organs are and how well they are working. This is the age that shines through and contributes to how old you look. Anti-aging treatments can help in this department. Chronological age means the years you have lived (or the number of years you have used up!).

For example, a 50-year-old man can look and feel like someone in his late thirties because his biological age is much younger than his chronological age.

The word “anti-aging” sounds like a miracle, because people often mistake that it can turn back the clock and tighten up the loose parts. Since 1970, a group of doctors have been researching and developing anti-aging medicine, and after decades of tireless working, there is finally enough evidence to prove that we can slow down the aging process and live a longer, healthier life.

Anti-aging medicine is not all about external appearance. It’s also about preventing organs from deteriorating as time goes by. It also promotes happier and healthier lifestyle for older people to make the remaining years count, not just to count the remaining years.

I can go on and on about aging but that will make me sound like a grumpy old man, so I will just skip to giving tips. There are ways to slow down aging such as using food supplement and hormone replacement, antioxidants, detoxification, and using nanotechnology to tackle aging genes. There are actually many more ways, but I would like to focus on natural ways. They are free and easy, and they really work for everyone.

Rule 1: Avoid stress. Stress causes a lot of people to drink (alcohol and sodas) and smoke, so getting rid of stress will help reduce the urge for those unhealthy things. If you are not a smoker, avoid people who smoke. Live a clean, chemical-free life as much as you can, and remember that UV rays can do a lot of damage to your skin.

However, a small amount of light sun is needed for Vit D and your bone health.

Rule 2: Eat fewer calories but get more nutrients. A lot of animals have died in research to prove that limited calorie intake will make you live longer. This has been proved to be true in human being too.

Rule 3: Eat limited amount of macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Avoid processed food because it is not very nutritious and might come with preservatives and chemicals which can affect how the cells work. It may even promote cancer cell growth.

Load up on grains and high-fibre food such as organic vegetables and non-sweet fruits. Fibre will help cleanse your colon and get rid of free radicals. Free radicals can go all over your body and rob you of youthfulness.

While meat can be nutritious, get your protein from vegetables and grains as well. Some vegetables have amino acids anti oxidant and good fat that can be found in large amount such as asparagus and broccoli. Some people say jokingly that eating a lot of meat is a way to ensure you will never get old, because we are likely to die from cancer first.


Fat can be good for your health, but choose the right sources, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower seed oil, rice bran oil which are rich in vitamin E. Never reuse cooking oil because it is full of free radicals and carcinogens.

Rule 4: Add micronutrients as needed, not more. This means vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. It might be difficult to get all the needed nutrients from food alone, especially for older people who might need more but can eat less. A lot of studies have shown that taking supplementary vitamins and minerals every day, together with eating healthy food, will lead to better health and less illness. Nutrients that are very important for those who are afraid of looking old include beta carotene and Co-enzyme Q-10. Vitamin B 12, zinc, selenium, magnesium, folic acid, manganese, calcium and vitamin D will also help ensure you stay fit, but please consult your doctor before taking any of those vitamins or minerals. Too much of a good thing can turn out to be bad.

Rule 5: Exercise. Yes, just one word. Do it.

There are also other less common nutrients and amino acids such as N-acetylcysteine, Glutathione, L-carnitine, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Dimethylethanolamine, Astaxanthine and Resveratrol which are said to help slow down aging process, but please do your homework and research properly before deciding to take anything. I would need to do more research before I can fully recommend any of it.

Another widely discussed approach is using human growth hormone, which is available as injection, spray and orally consumed pill. It is said to help increase muscle mass, adjust mood, increase sex drive and promote better sleep. Sounds like a miracle, doesn’t it? Now let’s take a look at its dark side. It has been reported that some people experience heart failure, high blood pressure, swelling, joint pain and bloating after taking the hormone without consulting doctor.

Another popular hormone is melatonin which is used as mild sedative and treatment for jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone of the young, so when used in older people, it can make them feel younger again. It sounds very exciting, but I would rather wait to hear more until I believe that it’s a miracle cure.

Last but not least, if you don’t want to be old, don’t act old. Some scientists have cultured human cells in ideal environment with no unhealthy germs, and it was found that human cells can live as long as 120 years. This is the same age that Buddha said a well-behaved person who follows the Four Paths of Accomplishment (aspiration, perseverance, thoughtfulness and reasoning). That was said over 2,500 years ago, but it is an advice that never gets old.

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.


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