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Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012


There is no magic antiaging device or drug. Optimal health and longevity are the result of a healthy lifestyle. A study of identical twins showed the twin who maintained the healthier lifestyle had fewer medical problems, aged less and lived longer.

Medicine has reduced death from cancer and other chronic diseases by understanding them and identifying other things that shorten our lives. Additionally, we have discovered how to reduce the other lifestyle limiting effects from many common diseases. This has given us the information we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and, thus, live longer healthier lives. The best examples of the latter are high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Though all three are still quite prevalent, we have learned ways of modifying or controlling each by lifestyle modification.
The four components of a healthy lifestyle, in order of importance, are diet, exercise, avoidance of negative influences and stress control. Each alone is a powerful antiager, but, combined, they multiply each other.

Most important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a proper diet. Besides being fuel for the body, food is a drug, and we need to think about it as such. Many of the problems I see with the skin and associated with surgery and healing are directly related to diet. Diet is said to be responsible for 1/3rd of all cancer deaths in this country. Almost all of the diabetes and most of the high blood pressure and heart disease is directly related to diet. When I was in medical school, we all got called to study anyone with Type II Diabetes because it was so rare. Now, it constitutes 95% of the cases among the 26 million Americans with diabetes. Part of this is a change in what we eat. Most diets now consist of 70-90% carbohydrate. It should be 40% carbs low on the glycemic index, 30% protein and 30% non-animal fat. It should also be less processed and be more colorful than most diets today. Another part is that we are living longer from other improvements and an improper diet affects us more the older we get. Diet even overcomes genetics, as shown in a study of the Zuni Indian tribe and, later, other tribes. Over 95% of the Zuni tribe had diabetes and high blood pressure. Of those who modified their diet and began to exercise regularly, all got off medications and normalized their blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Exercise, the second part of the Zuni success, alone will not control your weight or markedly change your health. When added to a proper diet, the effects are multiplied. It can help improve your circulation, and lower your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. It can also elevate our energy and mood. Amazingly enough, it also reduces the risk of multiple cancers, including breast. By increasing the brain’s production of endorphins, it relaxes us, clears our minds and reduces tension.

It is also important to avoid those things that have a negative influence on us. The major things in this list are tobacco products, alcohol, the sun, caffeine, sugar and drugs. Tobacco of any type (including nicotine products to help reduce tobacco use) reduce the blood supply to all organs of the body. Plastic Surgeons actually discovered this problem in a study of facelift complications done about thirty years ago. The only one of forty variables to increase the incidence of poor scar and skin loss was tobacco use. It has now been found responsible for reducing the immune system, speeding aging and increasing the incidence of cataracts and cancers. Its vascular reduction also contributes to the effect of the smoke on the lining of the lung and the incidence of respiratory disease. Alcohol has been found to have both good and bad effects. One glass of red wine contains antioxidants that protect us. However, two glasses begin to leach folic acid and other nutrients. In women this increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Although we cannot avoid the sun, which causes skin aging and cancers, we can protect ourselves with clear Zinc Oxide sun block and sun protective clothing. Although most drugs are useful, if we can reduce the number we take, we reduce the risk of a cross reaction.

Reduction of tension and stress is also important in improving our lifestyle. Stress has two parts, the event and our reaction. If we cannot avoid the event, then we need to learn to reframe it, much like changing our perception of a half empty glass to one half full. Of course, the best way to avoid stress is to avoid the precipitating event. We can do this by organizing our time, learning to say “no,” grouping similar activities and avoiding distractions. Something we all need to do is to make time for ourselves. Fortunately, since we are in Highlands, we have already discovered how to do this. If we still are stressed, perhaps we just need to allow the area to work its magic.

Although there are many things that are available to purportedly help us age better, there are only four that actually work. These are diet, exercise, avoidance of negative influences, and stress management. Food is a drug that determines our wellness. It can keep us well or cause us to be ill. Exercise protects us. It builds lean body mass and reduces fat. By eliminating those things that are detrimental, we improve our health and longevity. Reducing stress is additive to the others

We at the Center for Plastic Surgery are dedicated to not only helping you look your best, but also helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle. For more information, please contact us.