Dr. Shiroko reveals anti-aging myths and secrets
“The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is certainly alive today …whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries.” Aubrey DeGray, Cambridge Geneticist
Like death and taxes, getting older is inevitable for those of us who survive our youth.
You, like me, probably don’t look forward to what looks like certain degeneration as you approach your upper years. None of us want to experience declining health, appearance, or usefulness as we age. People do many things to halt the process of aging- midlife crises, Botox, and changes in diet and exercise. Some of those actions result in slowing our aging process, and others don’t.
In this article, I will debunk myths about aging, and reveal secrets to unlocking healthy aging.
Chronic Conditions: Why Getting Older Doesn’t Mean Decline
The statistics about aging aren’t encouraging. Ninety one percent of older adults in our country have a least one chronic condition, and 73% have at least two. Chronic conditions place a significant financial burden on individuals as well as health care systems. In 2011, this cost totaled nearly $3 trillion. Chronic conditions – such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, and lung disease – seriously compromise the quality of life of older adults, often forcing them to give up their independence.
Unlike common western thought, getting older does not mean we have to decline in our health or ability to function. In my nearly 30 years of practicing a blend of Chinese and Western medicine, seeing over 40,000 patients, I have learned that everything has to do with balance. In Chinese medicine, our bodies are made up of energy, which is meant to flow in certain patterns. When it is out of balance, we have problems. Factors such as genetics, vitality, and how we use our energy all make a difference in how energy works. Age is not the reason things go out of balance. However, age does finally reveal imbalances that have grown over time. Chronic stress and emotional traumas are the ultimate cause of most of our imbalance.
The Eight Keys To Healthy Aging
Through a review of aging literature, research, and experience with my medical practice over the last 20 years, I have come up with eight key factors that are involved in keeping you balanced and maximizing healthy aging. They include: hormones, brain function, digestive health, heart and circulation, immune system function, attitude, appearance, and ability to respond to stress. Achieving optimal balance in each of these eight areas will help you feel and look as young as you’d like.
Each person has a different way of responding to the events of his life. Consistent to my practice at Heart to Heart Medical Center, I use my 20/30/50 Healing Method in my Healthy Aging Programs. My formula to optimal health is broken down into three parts: 20% of any condition requires a physical treatment to help you find balance, 30% requires lifestyle changes– how you eat, exercise, think, and what supplements you take, and 50% asks for us to look at our emotional and spiritual health, including the lessons you were meant to learn, your purpose in being here, and the emotions that affect your every day life.
How Acupuncture Can Help
Acupuncture is one means of achieving physical and emotional balance. The physical practice of acupuncture involves inserting small, thin needles into certain points on the body in order to change energy movement. There are more than 300 acupuncture points on the body. Each has a different effect on the body. When the energy movement of the body is balanced, the body will heal itself naturally. Acupuncture first came to the United States in the 1970s after Richard Nixon visited China and has since become one of the most popular alternative medicine techniques in our country.
Why Stress Speeds Up The Aging Process
Our bodies are capable of living much longer than we do now. Biblical tales tell of Noah and others living to be more than 900 years before the flood. Moses lived to be 120. Whether we believe these stories or not, developments in quality of life, science and genetic research are allowing humans to live longer and longer lives.
Stress is the root cause of failure of not just our organ systems, but also our DNA. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Science and Medicine for discovering telomerase. Telomeres are the tips at the ends of our chromosomes, which protect our DNA from damage. Chronic stress breaks down the telomeres, which allows DNA to get damaged, contributing to faster aging. By understanding how this process works, we can begin to change how we deal with stress. Not surprisingly, the things that help us cope are already pretty well known. Exercise, sleep, healthy diet, and positive attitude all make a difference in our ability to deal with aging and stress.
The Myth: Aging Due to Genetics
Would you believe it possible to change your DNA with the power of your intention? One commonly held myth about aging is that it is mostly due to genetics. In one study done at Heart Math Institute, an individual holding three DNA samples was directed to generate heart rhythm coherence – a physiological state of mental, emotional and physical balance and harmony – with the aid of a HeartMath technique that utilizes heart-focused breathing while experiencing a positive emotion of love and appreciation, and then holding the intention that one or more of the DNA samples would either wind or unwind. The individual succeeded, as instructed, to intentionally and simultaneously unwind two of the DNA samples to different extents and leave the third unchanged.
What this confirms for me is the huge potential to affect our bodies and the quality of our lives, with thought, intention, discipline, and most importantly, love. Our work as patients and providers is not just mind-body healing, but heart-body healing.