An anti-aging perspective

Dr Wian Stander, a weight loss specialist and training physician in anti-aging medicine is a medical director of Future Health (Pty) Ltd and the owner of Slimming Clinic SA. He admits that the term ‘anti-aging medicine’ is perhaps not the best description of his field of interest as it tends to give the impression that interest is only towards Botox and superficial skin treatments to diminish wrinkles, although signs of toxicity and underlying chronic disease often manifest and mirror on the skin surface first.

Contrary to popular belief our focus is much broader than that. Anti-aging medicine is truly about the prevention, early detection and ultimately the reversal of chronic disease that exponentially increases with age, and which constitute nearly 90% of the illnesses doctors’ manage on an ongoing basis in their practices.

We believe in the Future of Health and in assisting people to actively take control of their health rather than waiting for diseases to develop and then merely managing their symptoms. We believe that people can spend longer times living healthily by detecting, treating and reversing the diseases of aging earlier on in life.

Dr Stander qualified in 2000 from the University of Pretoria and much of his time spent with patients were in GP practice as well as in the acute and rehabilitative hospital setting where he was mainly treating the symptoms of conditions like anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain & chronic fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis & osteoporosis, asthma etc.

No one seemed to be addressing the underlying causes - Yet many of these degenerative diseases of aging are largely preventable and even reversible. That’s to say if one can intervene early enough using anti-aging and preventative treatments, like vitamins & minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids & fats, nutraceutical supplements, herbal extracts, chelation therapies, intravenous nutrients and other intravenous treatments such as glutathione, hydrogen peroxide, phospholipid exchange.

Bio-identical Hormone balancing, neurotransmitter assessment & normalisation are also offered in anti-aging medicine. However, conventional practice does not give one the tools to practice this kind of preventive medicine. Integrative and Anti-aging medicine addresses the cause of the underlying problem, instead of merely treating the symptoms.

Dr Stander then decided to better equip himself in this growing field of interest and was introduced to SA4IM, the South African Academy of Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine. It offers a board-certified course in anti-aging medicine, requiring, inter alia, the completion of a number of modules (courses offered in the United States through the University of South Florida), oral and written examinations and case studies.

The primary aim of anti-aging medicine is to prevent disease. We’ve seen a huge explosion in ‘convenience living’, with a lot of bad nutrition as a result of high intake of fast foods. In addition we’re exposed to a high level of pollutants as part of daily living. In fact, just living increases one’s risk for disease, since we are living in an increasingly toxic environment and exposed to poor diets and excessive stress. But by paying attention to one’s health, detoxifying adequately and implementing effective lifestyle changes such as sound nutrition, daily exercise, stress management and anti-aging medicine, sickness can largely be prevented.

Futurists have predicted this for decades and we have heard the cliché since our pre-school days that ‘prevention is better than cure...’, but we have yet to embrace the truth of it. Research has already supplied us with enough information to date to implement strategies that will see our momentum carry us forward into the practice of relevant and preventative medicine. Let’s keep this vision out in front!

We aim to also serve as a sound reference for both women (Menopause) and men (Andropause) and the role hormones have in the human body and what significant effect they have in disease processes. The hormonal decline associated with aging predisposes people to disease, thus greatly increasing risk. Replenishment with bio-identical/compounded hormones, which have the same structure as hormones naturally occurring in the human body, can be highly beneficial to one’s health.

Future plans include the hosting of informative biochemical platforms to all healthcare practitioners. In so many cases, ‘normal’ and ‘optimal’ hormone levels are not the same thing. We approach ‘normal’ and ‘optimal’ laboratory reference ranges very differently hence the earlier detection and intervention from an anti-aging perspective.

Future Health has already hosted informal workshops on anti-aging and functional medicine over the past year and starts with formal workshops in October 2009. The topics of anti-aging medicine that will be covered include:

* Bio-identical hormone replenishment (BHRT)
* Neurotransmitters and sleep disorders
* Thyroid health
* Adrenal stress and fatigue – the 21st Century Stress Syndrome
* Brain health – Speed, Rhythm, Synchronicity and Voltage
* Prevention of cancers, such as breast cancer
* Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and ADHD
* Metabolic syndrome
* Weight loss
* Detoxification

Mechanisms of Gain:
* Chronic Inflammation
* Oxidative Stress
* Glycation / Glycosylation
* Mitochondrial Energy depletion
* Bio-identical hormone decline
* nsulin resistance
* Cortisol & adrenalin excess
* Methylation deficit
* Fatty acid imbalance
* Immune dysfunction
* Circulatory deficit
* Digestive enzyme deficit
* Excess calcification
* DNA mutation

Areas of promise.
Metabolic syndrome is a pandemic - affecting people’s quality of life on a daily basis, increasing the burden of disease on health care funders and providers worldwide. If we are able to prevent it from developing or at best just delay the process of decline - we can already add years of life expectancy to our clients/patients and make a huge difference to the burden it carries financially on the total health care system. [Chromium and other nutraceuticals such as alpha lipoic acid and EGCG (Green Tea) can reverse or even prevent a condition like Diabetes - and our goal is to ensure a healthy life without the burden of the chronic diseases of aging.

Rather than just prescribing anti-depressants for conditions like depression and anxiety; amino acids, nutrients, co-factors, vitamins and minerals can be used in the same way, if not in a more affordable and sustainable way, to restore neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals within the brain that transmit messages and many disorders ranging from depression to anxiety to attention deficit disorder to psychosis and other mental disorders can be addressed by optimization of neurotransmitters.

We are also very conscious of viewing and treating patients holistically. Conventional medicine underestimates the importance of a condition like happiness. People want to feel good and be conscious of it. That’s why anti-aging medicine puts great emphasis on a holistic integrative approach, viewing the patient/client as a complete entity, rather than only focusing on the one area where overt disease may be present. Exciting times certainly await us...!

The Wellness Revolution.
It has long been predicted and documented by the Pilzer’s and Kiyosaki’s of modern world economy that ‘Health and Wellness will be the next trillion dollar industry’ and we believe that anti-aging medicine will have an ever-greater role to play in the future. More and more people are embracing the wellness model, realizing that lifestyle plays a key role in the development of disease - and that because lifestyle is modifiable, disease is reversible. People want to feel well and be healthy, and the fact that many anti-aging practices are constantly booked up - often months in advance – bears witness to this changing mindset.

Though passionate about anti-aging medicine, wellness and the prevention of illness, we reiterate that we are not negating the importance and value of conventional medicine, which also has its place, but for too long we’ve been over-focused on just managing diseases and treating symptoms. We believe that prevention, early detection and reversal of the disease process are better options for all concerned with health care.

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