Aging is a part of life; there are advantages, like getting wiser (hopefully) and there are disadvantages, like getting wrinkles. For decades, it was just assumed that as we got older, our bones would ache, our skin would lose elasticity, our minds would get foggy, our libido would become stagnant and our waistlines would increase, even as our appetites decreased! Traditional healthcare practitioners would tell patients that weight gain along with these aches and pains are “normal” or “expected” with age, but the truth is, these symptoms are not normal and should not be expected! Research in the field of anti-aging medicine continues to achieve significant results as they document the effects of lifestyle, diet, weight loss and nutrition supplementation on aging. A common mis-conception and critique of anti-aging medicine is that the field sells “endless youth” and “immortality” as a focal point, but the truth is, the field promotes taking responsibility for your own health and believes that well-being doesn’t have to be sacrificed as we age.
Making good health a top priority becomes more important as we age, because our cells are not immortal, and they do decay over time. The rate of the decay is the actual target of anti-aging medicine, and this is what anti-aging medicine refers to when it makes it claims to slow the aging process or even reverse signs of aging in some cases. If you can decrease the rate of decay, you have the potential to add years to your life by giving your cells the nutrition and support they need to sustain your body. Dr. Pacholec firmly believes that an active lifestyle, healthy diet, appropriate nutritional supplementation, medical weight loss, hormonal regulation and regular blood testing for biomarkers related to aging can significantly slow a patient’s rate of aging and add longevity to a patient’s lifespan. Dr. Pacholec encourages patients to take an active role in their healthcare while also promoting these principles at both her Lutz, Fl and St. Petersburg, FL weight loss clinics. Read below for Dr. Pacholec’s 6 Step Program on how you can significantly slow the aging process, increase your well-being and add years to your life!
Step 1: Stop Consuming Processed Foods, and Start Eating Whole Foods
We talk about it in pretty much every blog post but establishing healthy eating habits should always be a top priority! Processed foods are high in refined sugars, fat, salt, preservatives and other artificial flavors and colors which create an excess of free radicals in the body. In brief, free radicals are unstable molecules, meaning they are missing an electron so they are in a reactive state. They are responsible for many disease states and can adversely effect lipids, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and beta-carotene, are needed to decrease the abundance of free radicals, and organic fruits and vegetables are rich sources of these molecules. Without these powerful antioxidants, an excess of free radicals can lead to oxidative stress on the body, which increases inflammation, speeds up the aging process and has been linked to certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin E, found in kale, spinach and almonds and sunflower seeds, increases immunocompetence by increasing immunity and providing resistance to certain bacterial infections as well as inhibiting tumor growth. Vitamin C, found in most fruits and vegetables, has been shown to prevent cancer in multiple studies by increasing immunity and detoxifying the liver.
However, it is important to note that not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. Genetically modified (GM), non-organic foods can also increase free radical damage due to pesticide use and these crops may also be of lower nutritional value due to genetic modifications used to increase crop yield. GM crops are also used in approximately 75% of all processed foods, and 80% of food consumed by Americans is processed. Free radicals also shorten the length of the telomeres on your DNA strands, which contributes to cellular aging and degeneration. In short, put down the cheeseburger, French fry, pizza and soft drink and pick up an organic apple and kale salad instead! Always choose water over soda. Your cells will thank you! Dr. Pacholec offers nutritional advice and meal planning as part of her weight loss and anti-aging programs at both her St. Petersburg, FL and Lutz, FL locations.
Step 2: Get Active and Lose Weight!
According to the US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), only 5% of Americans get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. 30 minutes of exercise can be anything from brisk walking to swimming to strength training. Exercise is not only important if you are trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, it helps prevent certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Aerobic exercise, like running, jogging or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) have been shown to increase memory, thinking skills and decrease one’s risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Research has shown that this type of exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain linked to memory and learning. This research concluded that walking briskly for at least 1 hour a week can increase memory function. Household activities, like active mopping, vacuuming, leaf raking or gardening also count as aerobic exercise and can help increase your memory function. If you want to try something more intense, try this 24-minute HIIT workout you can do right in your living room! In addition to weight loss, exercise also helps to lift your mood, benefits sleep, and lowers blood pressure, so stop making excuses, and get active today!
Step 3: Supplement Your Diet with Appropriate Vitamins and Minerals
Collagen peptides are one of the hottest topics in health and alternative medicine right now. Rightly so, because collagen is a structural protein which helps maintain the skin’s elasticity, supports the strength of bones, tendons and cartilage and helps build the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract, thus preventing or even reversing signs of leaky gut. It accounts for almost 30% of the body’s total protein, especially in connective tissue. Most individuals do not consume enough protein, and even if they do consume meat, they are not receiving the parts of the animal that are richest in collagen. Bone broth is the richest natural source of collagen, but it takes 24 hours or more to create a big batch. If you have the time, it is tasty and can be incorporated into many different recipes from pasta sauce to soups to curry. However, if you are on the go or do not like cooking, your best bet will be to take a collagen supplement. Dr. Pacholec recommends Whole Body Collagen, by Designs for Health, which is a synergistic blend of three different types of collagen designed to support bones, joints and skin and achieve optimal health and slow the aging process. Dr. Pacholec also recommends this supplement for patients who receive Botox or facial filler treatments, since it increases the skin’s elasticity and can help make the results of these treatments last longer.
Vitamin D3 and Fish Oil are other supplements Dr. Pacholec recommends specifically for anti-aging benefits. In recent studies, vitamin D3 has been shown to have specific anti-aging effects, increasing longevity of cells by 33% in genetic studies. It was also shown to slow aging effects on specific protein cells by suppressing protein insolubility. Protein insolubility has been implicated in a number of chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Type 2 Diabetes and some forms of heart disease. If you are deficient in vitamin D3, which you likely are if you don’t work outside or get adequate sun exposure (at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight per day), Dr. Pacholec recommends 2,000 International Units (IU) daily to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D3 in your blood. Some people may need more, depending on how low their current level is and Dr. Pacholec can test for this at both her Lutz, FL and St. Petersburg, FL locations.
Fish Oil is another supplement promoted by health practitioners for its powerful anti-aging effects. Fish oil is composed of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential elements for brain growth, development and help tone and firm the skin. They cannot be produced within the body and must be acquired through food. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish, like salmon and mackerel, tree nut oils, algae and krill. Anti-aging benefits include healthy skin, nails, hair and protections from heart disease, memory loss and reduction in inflammation. Omega-3s also prevent and curb side effects from diabetes, cancer and arthritis, and may even help reverse signs of these diseases in some cases. They also assist in weight loss, by maintaining a healthy metabolism. Fish oil can also be used to help combat wrinkles and fine lines by smoothing out the skin and helping the skin retain its moisture and elasticity. Dr. Pacholec recommends taking this supplement in conjunction with Botox or facial filler treatments, such as Juvederm or Volbella, for optimal anti-aging skin effects. Dr. Pacholec dispenses several different kinds of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements from her St. Petersburg, FL and Lutz, FL locations as well as on Dr. Pacholec’s online store.
All of the supplements described above are available for purchase at either Dr. Pacholec’s Lutz, FL or St. Petersburg, FL locations and can also be purchased at our online store. All you need is your email address to set up an account and you can enjoy the convenience of having your favorite supplements shipped directly to your door! Free shipping is available as well.
Step 4: Regulate Your Hormones
Regulating your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels is a great way to reap the rewards of anti-aging medicine, with very little daily effort. A hormonal imbalance can affect everything from mood to weight gain to fatigue to libido. Dr. Pacholec only uses bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT), which utilizes hormones identical in structure to human hormones. These hormones, sourced from plants like yams, are more readily available in the human body and have a high rate of efficacy when compared to synthetic hormones. Dr. Pacholec creates gentle and custom formulations of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone to treat patients with hormonal imbalances at both her St Petersburg, FL and Lutz, FL locations. These treatments are safe with minimal side effects and patients rave about their powerful anti-aging effects. Many patients who have been on long-term hormone therapy report an increase in sex drive, a decrease in menopausal side effects, increased memory, better mood, weight loss and lower fatigue. When combined with Botox and facial filler treatments, Dr. Pacholec’s anti-aging program at both her St. Petersburg, FL and Lutz, FL locations will have you feeling 20 years younger!
Step 5: Receive Botox and Facial Filler Treatments to Reduce Wrinkles
Botox and facial filler treatments like Juvederm and Volbella are the only FDA-approved ways to medically reduce the signs of aging. Botox injections smooth lines and wrinkles, while facial fillers can give a more youthful appearance to a patient’s face by enhancing the lips and perioral lines that run from the nose to the mouth. There are also proven medical benefits, including a reduction in migraines and sweating. Botox injections are administered every 3-4 months to keep wrinkles at bay. Facial filler treatments last longer, ranging from 9-18 months, depending on the type of treatment. Dr. Pacholec’s nurse practitioner, Lauren DeNeve, offers free consultations at the Lutz, FL location to give patients an idea of how many units or syringes they would need to start either a Botox or facial filler treatment. Appointments with Nurse DeNeve are by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays in the Lutz, FL office. In combination with the anti-aging supplements and lifestyle modifications discussed above, Botox and facial filler injections can help you look and feel younger and more confident.
Step 6: Use Anti-Aging Blood Tests to Monitor Markers of Aging
Although anti-aging medicine may sometimes sound cliché or make people skeptical about its claims for youthful regeneration, the foundations of this branch of medicine are deeply rooted in scientific studies on cellular biology. Anti-aging isn’t just about looking younger, and not even necessarily about feeling younger; the principal focus in anti-aging medicine concerns the age of our individual cells rather than our age in years. By targeting our cellular age, physicians in the field of anti-aging medicine can provide lifestyle and diet recommendations that are specific to our individual genes, which in turn makes us feel younger and look younger too. The best marker of aging at the cellular level are telomeres, which are sections of DNA at the tips of chromosomes that serve as a cap for genetic material. Each time a cell replicates, its telomeres get shorter. As telomeres get shorter, the life span of the cell decreases. Therefore, measuring the length of telomeres, or age adjusted telomere length, is the most accurate way to measure someone’s biological age. Specific recommendations on diet and lifestyle are based off these measurements and will help to slow a person’s aging and prevent age-related diseases. Things that amplify telomere loss include an inflammatory diet, including a high consumption of processed foods, artificial sweeteners, sodas, saturated fats and trans fats, an increase in oxidative stress (may be induced from diet), a high body mass index (BMI), a large proportion of belly fat, lack of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle, micronutrient deficiencies (specifically vitamin D3), insulin resistance, diabetes, substantial weight gain and obesity.
Dr. Pacholec offers specialized testing through Spectracell Laboratories at both her Lutz, FL and St Petersburg, FL locations that calculates the Patient Telomere Score, which is based off telomere length on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). This score is compared to average telomere length on T-lymphocytes from a sample of Americans in the same age range, and scores that are above the average are regarded as “younger” due to their increased telomere length. An above average score is therefore desirable. While it is not possible to “grow back” telomeres that have been shortened, a modification in diet and lifestyle following the recommendations outlined in this article can reduce the rate of telomere loss, which would increase the Patient Telomere Score. Dr. Pacholec recommends performing this test at least annually to determine the rate of telomere loss as lifestyle factors change.
Another anti-aging test Dr. Pacholec recommends at both her Lutz, FL and St. Petersburg, FL locations is the micronutrient test from Spectracell Laboratories or the NutrEval test from Genova Diagnostics. Generally, both tests determine the cellular abundance of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in different types of cells. These tests can accurately and precisely calculate what a patient’s nutrient deficiencies are. People who are low in antioxidants, for example, will be more susceptible for oxidative stress and a faster rate of aging and are at risk for various age-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s. When used in combination with the telomeres test described above, a patient can get a clear and accurate picture of what their risk factors are for age-related diseases and will also receive specific diet recommendations based on their nutritional deficiencies.
This program gives a clear overview of the approach Dr. Pacholec uses when assessing and treating her patients at both her Lutz, FL and St. Petersburg, FL locations. Weight loss involves so much more than just an appetite suppressant and heart check. Hormonal support involves so much more than just a few applications of bio-identical hormone cream. Achieving optimal health and reaping the rewards of anti-aging medicine is a multi-faceted and holistic treatment that takes time, perseverance, and motivation. It is difficult to change your whole lifestyle, but with support from Dr. Pacholec and her staff at both her Lutz, FL and St. Petersburg, FL locations, it can be done! Restore your confidence and vitality today with Dr. Pacholec’s anti-aging program. The results will speak for themselves. Remember, together, we will succeed!
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Barbara Pacholec, MD
Dr Pacholec is Board Certified in Bariatric Medicine and Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. She has run a successful practice specializing in medical weight loss, hormone replacement therapy and anti-aging/regenerative and functional medicine for the past 20 years in Lutz, FL in Tampa Bay. In January 2018, she opened a satellite practice in St Petersburg, FL which also specializes in medical weight loss, hormone replacement therapy, and anti-aging/regenerative and functional medicine.