Anti-Aging: Searching For the Fountain of Youth.
Dr. Thomas Patavino of Thoracic Park Alternative Health

     The Aging process is inevitable.  Although our eyes remain the mirror to our souls, our bodies tell an entirely different story.

A poem for the aging: The hair begins to thin as the waist miraculously grows. Hair sprouts from the ears and nose. Footprints of crows around the eyes, while lines of laughter will make some cry. The bones will creak, and often ache.  That never hurt before, for heaven's sake.

Oh, if you could see me, back in the day. I plan on fighting this, each step of the way!

      Although aging is something we cannot prevent, it doesn't mean that we can't prolong the process and reduce some of the unfortunate events of the occurrence. Anti-aging is a concept that is not only growing in interest, but also quickly becoming a million dollar industry. Facelifts and tummy tucks used to be reserved for those in Hollywood, now they seem to have hit the mainstream. Botulism has come full circle. We no longer fear paralysis from food poisoning, but instead recognize its ability to erase a few years with a simple injection. The market is also promoting a variety of progesterone creams that act as a form or hormone replacement to ease the body through menopause.  Human growth hormone (HGH) releasing supplements seem to be the latest craze. HGH supplements aim to burn fat, increase muscle mass and revitalize energy.

      Aging goes beyond the physical changes that stare back at us in the mirror.  Although cosmetic changes such as Botox injections and surgery may change the way we look, our age remains unchanged. The newest parade of supplements appears to be large in promise, yet untested and non-regulated to truly accept their validity. Aging is not only an expression of time, but also the result of our cellular breakdown. Free radicals are a major component of the aging process. Free radicals are the by-product of the splitting of weak cellular bonds. The intent isn't to drudge up old memories of science class and scare people with atoms and electrons, but to shed some light on what occurs inside our bodies. Normal cellular bonds are stable. A weak bond will split and form a very unstable particle called a free radical. These unstable particles attack other cells in attempts to bring stability to their atomic structure. In simple terms, free radicals attach our healthy cells and cause damage in the process. They act like pirates in our body pillaging and wreaking havoc a little at a time. Free radical production has been linked to signs of early aging and certain types of cancer.

      Free radical formation, like aging, is something we can't avoid. However, we can reduce the damage by taking certain measures. Smoking and diet are too factors that we can alter to reduce the production of free radicals. Smoke is probably one of the best-known factors that lead to health problems. We take for granted the effects smoking has on aging. I'm sure many of us know a chronic smoker who appears to be much older than the age revealed. Cigarette smoke is very similar to breathing in pollution. We know the effects of lead, asbestos and formaldehyde and take appropriate precautions to avoid contact at all cost. Smoking has been shown to have similar effects over a period of time. The common bond with all of these hazards is related to the damage caused by free radicals. Smoking cessation and limiting your exposure to second hand smoke can dramatically reduce the production of free radicals.

      Diet is probably the greatest tool we have to combat free radical damage. The intake of fruits and vegetables has a positive effect on reducing free radical activity. Foods high in constituents called anti-oxidants attack free radicals before they have time to attack you. In other words, the more anti-oxidants we consume, the less opportunity to destroy our cells. Anti-oxidant properties are found in broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, berries, carrots, red grapes and garlic. A simple rule of thumb may help with food selection; “the richer the color, the greater the beneficial chemicals”. With that in mind, orange, yellow and red peppers usually contain higher levels of antioxidants than green peppers. The same holds true for red grapes over green. Red wine in moderation will possess the same properties due to the chemicals in the grape skins. Anti-oxidants are also found in vitamins A, C, and E along with other supplements like COQ-10. It is recommended to check with your physician for appropriate dosages and indications.

      Unfortunately, we have not discovered the fountain of youth, but reducing free radical damage seems to be a natural way to combat the aging process. Increasing the intake of foods high in anti-oxidants and avoiding cigarettes and other toxins may add years to your life. Proper exercise will help prevent muscle wasting and bone loss that are unfortunate events associated with growing older. Anti-aging is probably best viewed as a goal of lifestyle modification rather than something that can be purchased.

Dr. Patavino can be reached for questions at (203)758-7250 or by email