4 Myths About Aging Debunked
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4 Myths About Aging DebunkedDr. Frank Lipman Reveals Some Common Misconceptions About Getting Older
You don't have to dread getting older. Instead, you can welcome it, knowing that your mind and body can remain vigorous, healthy, and resilient. These are a few specific myths that might be preventing you from making healthy decisions without even realizing it.
Myth #1: “These problems just hit me suddenly, out of nowhere.”
In conventional Western medicine, we tend to focus on end-stage disease, which does, indeed, seem to come out of nowhere. In Western medicine, the diagnoses tend to be very black and white: either you have a disease or you don’t.
Suppose your doctor tests your blood sugar levels, a common way to find out whether you have diabetes. A typical Western doctor might look at your blood sugar readings and say, “Well, you’re in the high-normal range, but you don’t have diabetes, so you’re okay.” Until your blood sugar levels cross the magic line that divides “diabetes” from “non-diabetes,” most conventional doctors are not concerned.
Even though you’re not actually “sick,” your relatively high blood sugar levels meant that you aren’t completely well either. Most Western doctors are okay with you feeling “not completely well” as long as you aren’t actually sick.
There are more tips in my book to support your body naturally through diet, supplements and lifestyle.
Myth #2: “I can’t do much about my health—I just have poor genes.”
I myself have wrestled with this demon, since my father died of a heart attack at the age of 54; my brother, who is super fit and exercises regularly, had a coronary bypass at 50; and I, now in my 60s, have many of the markers indicating that I should have heart disease as well.
Yet I have escaped the condition that seemed to be the genetic destiny of the other men in my family. Why? Because even though I have all the genetic markers for heart disease, I don’t necessarily have to develop that condition.
Whether I do will be determined by how I live my life: what I eat, how much I move, whether I get enough good sleep, how well I release stress, and which supplements I take. We all have a lot more control over our health than we think.
Several studies have shown that lifestyle changes, both good and bad, trigger changes in gene expression. We have already seen how my own lifestyle changes have so far prevailed over my genetic tendency to heart disease. Likewise, many people have family histories of obesity and/or diabetes, yet with the right diet and lifestyle, they can avoid these chronic conditions.
Myth #3: “I can take meds for one issue without affecting the rest of my body.”
We are taught in medical school and in our subsequent training to zero in on symptoms and to medicate them. If the medication affects the symptom as we would like, we consider it successful. If it has any other effects, we call them “side effects,” and, in most cases, downplay their importance.
But in fact, there are no “side effects”; there are only effects! Each of us is an intricate ecosystem, and we can’t alter any one aspect of our body without other aspects being affected. The key word in this regard is balance.
Myth #4: “Feeling tired is a natural part of getting older.”
When my patients tell me that they are feeling fatigued—and particularly if they also say that they feel wired, especially in the evening, or unable to fall asleep at night—I usually suspect an adrenal problem. When they seem to have the classic symptoms of a thyroid issue, I usually suspect an adrenal problem as well, since many thyroid problems start with adrenal dysfunction. So let’s begin where I do with my patients: by focusing on the adrenals.
The word “adrenaline” might get you to thinking about the “adrenaline rush” that many of us feel when we are stimulated, excited, or challenged. Adrenaline is indeed part of the stress response, but so are several other hormones.
One of the most powerful stress hormones is cortisol, which gets involved pretty much whenever your body faces any type of challenge, from a hard-to-digest food to a pressing deadline at work. Whenever you have to put in some extra effort—physical, emotional, or both—cortisol is the hormone that keeps you motivated and focused.
In fact, cortisol literally gets you up in the morning. Ideally, your cortisol levels are highest right around the time you wake up—they are actually what help you wake up, full of energy to face the day. Then, ideally, they follow a gently downward-sloping curve, until finally, by evening, they are low enough to send you drifting peacefully off to sleep.
Unfortunately, for many of us, life is not like that at all! The lack of balance in our hormones can leave us feeling tired all the time, or tired at the wrong times.
Read more about diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes you can make in my book 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat.