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Aged to Perfection

by Mary Ann Romans

Whether in your 20s or 50s, there are steps everyone can take to ensure a healthy lifestyle for years to come.

Aging gracefully is no longer about finding a magic fountain of youth or a facelift. It is no longer about fixing flaws and erasing the wrinkles. Instead, cutting-edge thought focuses on embracing your stage of life and developing good practices to keep your body healthy. With good health naturally comes a more youthful body, including one that carries firmer skin, a more brilliant complexion and a youthful glow. It is not about eschewing medical advancement either, but using the tools, research and resources now available, no matter what your stage in life, to age to perfection.

The Art of Living Well recently spoke with four experts who shared their knowledge, wisdom and practical advice to keep us all aging gracefully, whether we are in our 20s or our 40s, or beyond.

Nadia Chaudhry, MD, is a laser and cosmetic dermatologist at Hope Medical Spa in Marlton. Her practice’s tagline is “Be hopeful, be healthful, be beautiful.” While her lasers can help correct many different skin problems, her philosophy is one of prevention and treating our bodies “with a sacred reverence.”

John Gray, MD, is a doctor with Reconstructive Orthropedics in Lumberton. His practice is geared toward sports medicine, and he encourages his patients to stay active: “Everyone can think of themselves as an athlete—not necessarily a professional athlete, but just a different kind of athlete.” He would like to see every person take advantage of the passions and the talents they possess in order to get on the right path to aging well.

Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist who has been exploring nutritional genomics, “the study of how food affects gene expression. It is one part of the broad movement to personalize medicine and individualize treatment.”

Joann Richichi, MD, is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates in Sewell who has found her passions not only as a doctor but also as a well-known muralist, author and novelist. When it comes to aging gracefully, she hopes that we all remember “To do it happily, and to be positive in what the future can hold instead of focusing on the negative.”

Here is their best advice, no matter what your stage in life.

In your 20s
“I think the biggest thing for any age is nutrition. Most of us in this society are not eating well, leading to a high rate of obesity, anxiety, acne issues and inflammation of the tissues that starts from the time we are in our 20s,” Chaudhry says. “It is garbage in, garbage out.

“Physically, the products that are used don’t make sense, such as acne treatment,” Chaudhry adds. “Skin can be beautiful when [cared for] properly. It is more about nurturing and nutrition. Use the right products; the harsh products are causing damage. Tanning causes the skin to be even more damaged.”

Gray says young people should start practicing good habits, such as trying to exercise three or four days a week. “Now is the time to find things that you are potentially interested in, taking advantages of the talents that you have,” he says. “Be aware that we are most vulnerable to injury when we are fatigued. You are tired and you can’t protect yourself. You do need to be in control of that situation.”

The hectic lifestyle that tends to follow the young professional just starting their career can also unintentionally lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, as Matthews-Antosiewicz points out. People in the 20s will eat on the run, and finding healthier alternatives can be difficult, but it’s possible. “As an example, rather than frequenting fast food restaurant, go to a grocery store and pick-up quick meals,” she says.

And make sure to squeeze in antioxidants, Richichi adds. “If a 20-year-old starts eating well, then they are less likely to experience bad health when they are older.”

In your 30s
Though there can be issues with skin damage starting at an early age, it’s not too late to correct the problems and begin preventive measures.

“You would be surprised how much damage can be in the skin by the 30s, depending on lifestyle—UV photography diagnostic can reveal this,” Chaudhry says. “The skin can start to get dull, uneven and lose volume. It is a good time to get people in for treatment to restore healthy skin. Also, most people don’t apply sunblock properly, and 85 percent of sunblocks are garbage. There needs to be more training and education for skin care.”

And when it comes to sports, Gray says the 30s are the time to perfect your talents and become regular in a sport or aerobic activity. “Most people in this decade are starting a family and are busy with other types of activities, but it is important to be consistent with activity. Aerobic activity is No. 1 in heart health and keeping muscles and bone.”

The 30s tends to be the time when people add on some extra weight, and it becomes more difficult to keep it off, making athletic activity all the more important, Matthews-Antosiewicz adds. “This is a huge stress on the body. Excess body fat causes inflammation and this can accelerate disease and aging. Stock up on healthy staples that can be used for simple breakfasts and quick dinners—for example, oatmeal, unsweetened dry cereal, individually frozen portions of fish and chicken, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes and beans, and frozen vegetables.”

Also be sure to include multivitamins in your daily routine, especially one with Vitamin D, Richichi says. “Many of us are low in Vitamin D, and this nutrient is a mood elevator. It also helps your body absorb calcium. We start losing bone mass around age 35. Vitamin D is also a cancer-preventing agent, as well.”

In your 40s and beyond
Look in the mirror. Are there imperfections that stand out to you? According to Chaudhry, your 40s is the point where problems begin to show up in the face when you aren’t taking care of the body as a whole.

“There is more loosey-goosey skin, smile lines, hollowness, unevenness, pore, fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “A vascular laser may reduce the inflammation and get your body to produce healthy new skin. It is all about rebuilding the architecture and genetically altering the skin back to health.”

But don’t go the facelift route, she urges. “Surgery is taking old skin and hiking it up; it takes a year for people to recover from a face lift. You are severing nerves and taking [bad] skin and traumatizing it. We don’t do that in our practice.”

It’s important to accept that changes will be occurring to your body at this point no matter what. You can fight it, Gray says, but you have to accept the changes. “You may not recover as quickly,” he says. “You still want to challenge yourself athletically. The biggest issue is that the tissues are getting stiffer and are more vulnerable to tear. A lot of us are busy Monday through Friday and go like crazy with athletics on the weekend. It is better, instead, to hold on to that athletic lifestyle—consistency of the activity every other day, three to four days a week.”

Of course, staying fit doesn’t stop those hormonal changes that are on their way. “The 40s are when people begin to feel the signs of aging—graying hair and wrinkles are the least of it,” Matthews-Antosiewicz says. “Hormonal changes, stress, and chronic illness can weaken the immune system during this phase of life. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help quite a bit and most of the foods can be found right in the grocery store. Cold-water fish, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, yogurt with probiotics, legumes, nuts and green tea are rich in antioxidants and other potentially age-deterring compounds.”

And hormonal changes don’t just affect women. Both men and women might want to consider using bioidentical hormones, which offer a slew of protective and preventive properties against heart disease, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis, Richichi says. It is important for people to know that all types of hormone replacement therapy shouldn’t be lumped together, she adds. “Having the hormones present in the right amounts can make a 50-year-old function as if he or she is in the 30s.”

Resources

Hope Medical Spa
12000 Lincoln Drive W., Marlton
(856) 988-8230
HopeMedicalSpa.com

Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD
NJNutritionist.com

Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates
239 Hurffville-Crosskeys Road,
Suite 250, Sewell
(856) 262-8300
MyOBGYNDoctors.com

Reconstructive Orthopedics
Serving South Jersey
ReconstructiveOrtho.com

Published (and copyrighted) in the Art of Living Well pull-out section of Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (September, 2012).
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