Even scientists now endorse the age-old maxim ‘it’s not about the years in your life, but the life in your years.’ With A4m, The American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine, researchers claiming that over 50 percent of people above 65 are less concerned about how long they live, but rather about the quality of life put into those extra years, it’s time to arrest the spate of lifestyle diseases affecting increasingly younger people. The experts talk about how to resolve these health issues affecting over 40 percent of the regional population.
What Do The Numbers Say?
Globally, according to a survey by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, over 16 percent of women over the age of 50 suffer from heart-related diseases and over 12 percent of men over 55 report the same. Over 30 percent of those women cite a combo of professional stress, fatigue, insufficient exercise and a diet laden with high-glycaemic, processed foods, as the main culprit. Nearly 25 percent of these men claim smoking, alcohol, processed foods and irregular exercise as the chief causes.
Regionally, nearly 48 percent of the local population suffers from diabetes and obesity, with a 2 percent increase from 2013-14. ‘Diabesity’ (diabetes resulting from obesity) has almost reached endemic proportions in the UAE and the GCC overall. Lifestyle indiscipline does breed evil afterall.
The Cardiologist- Dr. Dietrich Baumgart
A heart specialist, internist and specialist in preventive medicine.
Treating You – Mind, Body And Soul
How much we exercise and what we eat, whether we are able to relax and how, what kind of burdens and stressors we cope with – are factors that have effects on the body.
– Dr. Dietrich Baumgart
Dr. Baumgart feels privileged that as a physician he can positively influence people’ lives, changing them for the better. “Poor nutrition and irregular and insufficient exercise are usually easy to diagnose. Blood tests and body composition measurements yield first indications; whilst stress is harder to accurately measure. One method for gauging someone’s mental stress level is measuring heart rate variability (HRV).” This is a test which shows the ratio of sympathetic to parasympathetic activity and shows how well the heart adapts to varying stressors.
Sensible Advice For Optimal Wellness
Prof. Baumgart motivates patients to listen closely to what their bodies are trying to tell them. He advises more regular exercise and to test their physical limits and endurance. “The less we use our bodies, the faster our body awareness dwindles. This is often a problem in modern industrial societies, where many people work all day seated at a computer”, he explains.
In addition, Dr. Baumgart focuses on the importance of mindfulness. Specific exercises can help people strengthen awareness or relearn it. Breathing plays a central role here. When people focus on their breathing, they are living in the ‘here and now.’ Steady slow breathing with six inhalation and exhalation cycles per minute is ideal. This leads to a synchronisation of breath, blood pressure waves and heart rate variability, so that they are in a state of resonance, which optimally regenerates the body.
His German practice also offers the latest in medical technology to encompass every aspect of optimal vitality. For instance, patients can see for themselves, on the basis of measurements, that their vessels are already losing elasticity, or when they can see images of their complete vascular system. This provides convincing corroboration for his recommendations.
When I diagnose the first signs of disease, patients simultaneously receive a specific treatment plan from us. This ranges from a diet plan to balance the metabolism or an exercise plan or even medication or interventional therapy.
–Dr. Dietrich Baumgart
Tests And Protocols Used
Prof. Baumgart offers his patients a comprehensive interdisciplinary medical check-up. He recommends undergoing this check-up every two years to ensure that basic markers such as blood tests, blood pressure, EKG and ultrasound are tracked. In addition, patients with individual medical issues are monitored carefully. In one person it could be the prostate, in another fat metabolism or kidney function.
Challenges For The Healthcare, Pharma And Food Industries
An ex-long distance runner who now believes that taking regular forms of moderate exercise is better, Dr. Baumgart believes that health insurance companies could do more in terms of prevention and early detection, “They tend to focus on providing information and funding courses, but hesitate to support innovative early-detection opportunities.” It is also makes sense to customise pharma offerings. “Too little attention is still paid to the differences between the sexes when it comes to treatment. And yet height, weight and hormone levels remain the recognised biological differences.”
Metabolic processes and some organs work differently in women than in men, but the fact remains that 75 percent of all medical studies are carried out with solely male subjects. Hardly any medications come with gender-specific dosage instructions. But it is common knowledge amongst most medics that some active ingredients work completely differently in women than in men.
In terms of nutrition, it would be helpful if beverages and above all food products geared toward children would contain less sugar. Children should not get used to sweet tastes in the first place, because high sugar consumption is a major factor in obesity and numerous lifestyle diseases.
Tools, Supplements And Habits For Optimal Health
Prof. Baumgart believes in regular, gentle exercise. Golf and moderate running are now his things. As for food, he doesn’t prescribe an ascetic life, but he limits his carbohydrates and red meat intake. The occasional drink is also acceptable, but smoking is taboo
“In my profession, I can’t always avoid stress completely. But I try to counterbalance stressful periods with active relaxation.”
–Dr. Dietrich Baumgart
The Plastic Surgeons
Associate professor of aesthetic plastic surgery breaks down his key rules for optimal longevity.
Why Look And Feel Ten Years Younger?
It’s not only a question of vanity; people need to revamp their ageing looks for numerous reasons. With many of Dr. Ömer ’s patients being busy professionals, the imperative to look vibrant is a marker of career longevity.
Aesthetics and plastic surgery increase self-esteem with a positive impact on productivity and performance on the job as people work better when they look better. I have met people who requested a face-lift after completing rigorous cancer therapy or post-retirement.
– Dr Ömer Özerdem
Cosmetic Surgery vs. Non-Invasive Aesthetic Treatments
Dr. Ömer believes that surgical interventions are more effective. Nonsurgical methods work better on younger patients with better skin laxity, or they can be used as ancillary procedures after surgery.
It’s factually incorrect to claim that a certain method is superior to another in the field of aesthetics as more or less all provide visible results after a couple of sessions, and it is especially wrong to claim that a certain machine or topical medicine is superior to surgery. On the whole, a well informed and considered decision is better.
Training Is Key
With competition being fierce in the industry, cosmetic surgeons must differentiate their practice from others in terms of outcomes – but this has never been an issue for Dr. Ömer. “I do my job well and I compete with myself to be a better surgeon every day. This approach has benefited me in the long term.” Adequate training, Board certification and years of surgical experience have all helped him become the surgeon he is today.
Learn To Say No!
There are cases when Dr. Ömer has turned away prospective patients because he believes that realistic expectations are crucial before opting for surgery.
If I realise that a patient is unprepared and not ready for surgery, I refuse to operate and apologise for that because simply put, I am a doctor not a magician.I cannot guarantee that there will be no wound healing problems in a smoker for instance. If the patient does not understand or accept the possible results, they are not good or eligible candidates for operation.
-Dr Ömer Özerdem
Laser Cosmetic Surgery Vs. The Scalpel
Dr Ömer says that though laser is being touted as the latest ‘big thing’ in surgery, he does not immediately foresee a time when the scalpel will become obsolete, “Laser has greatly contributed to aesthetics, but lasers are not a ‘magical intervention’. Contrary to popular belief, lasers do not always deliver a better result, “It basically entails light energy which converts to heat which is then absorbed by specific tissues. So laser simply burns a skin lesion, and another option would be to simply excise it surgically.” Dr. Ömer explains that both scenarios leave a scar behind, but a surgeon could only conduct a microscopic exam with the latter option. So, for skin lesions in which microscopic examination is mandatory, surgical excision is a superior option.
Inspiring Surgical Innovations
Advancements in hair transplantation surgery have impressed Dr. Ömer greatly. At the beginning of his career, hair transplants were performed as mini-grafts (simply as hair islands) that did not look natural at all. Then micro-grafts entered the scene. Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) techniques changed the lives of many. It even created new jobs and opportunities like hair technicians.
Another surgical advancement in face surgery that have captured Dr. Ömer’s fancy are face lifting techniques that have evolved significantly with more understanding of local anatomy, as well as technological developments during the last decades. These operations are now performed in a safer way in a shorter time with less downtime.
Tools, Supplements And Habits For Optimal Health
Learning, training, developing and technological advancement are endless efforts in medicine. Learning from experienced peers is also crucial.
When I am offered a new device, I simply say that I would not use it before I see endorsement by reputable medical authorities or before I see the long term results of clinical studies.
-Dr Ömer Özerdem
Consultant Plastic surgeon at Medical Arts Clinic, General Secretary of Emirates Plastic Surgery Society , a triple board-certified plastic surgeon ,explains how innovations in science including the use of one’s own blood (autologous blood injection) to renew the complexion can delay the facial ageing process indefinitely.
The Vampire Facelift
Platelets are small blood components produced in the bone marrow for normal clotting. When activated, these platelets release several proteins and growth factors, increasing collagen formation, skin tightening and overall renewal.
PRP therapy uses platelet-rich plasma, which are platelets and plasma taken from a small sample of a person’s blood, to stimulate collagen and improve the skin’s texture and elasticity.
PRP Injection is a revolutionary medical technology used in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as in the aesthetic medicine field.
– Dr. Jamal Jomah ,Consultant Plastic surgeon at Medical Arts Clinic, General Secretary of Emirates Plastic Surgery Society
Is It Safe?
PRP Injection is a safe, natural, and effective treatment for skin regeneration and rejuvenation. It softens fine lines and wrinkles and helps in hair regeneration. “It is a quick, relatively painless procedure that requires minimal to no post care or time off from work. Mild swelling, redness, or bruising fades within one to three days.” – Dr. Jamal Jomah ,Consultant Plastic surgeon at Medical Arts Clinic, General Secretary of Emirates Plastic Surgery Society
Ultra Smooth With Ultherapy
Ultherapy is the latest non-invasive, nonsurgical treatment that uses ultrasound to bypass the surface of the skin and delivers heat to stimulate new collagen and the renewal of existing collagen which results in the tightening and lifting of the skin over time. Dr. Jamal clarifies, “It is the only FDA-cleared procedure to lift the eyebrow, neck and under-chin.”
Is Ultherapy Regulated?
With the addition of the new Décolletage Treatment, Ultherapy is also now the only non-invasive procedure specifically indicated by the FDA to improve lines and wrinkles on the chest. While it is not a replacement for surgery, Ulthera is a good alternative for those who are not physically, psychologically, and financially ready for a surgery or for patients looking to extend the effects of cosmetic surgery.
The Nutritionist- Patrick Holford
Globally renowned nutritionist and author of numerous international best sellers, tells how he stays in optimal shape.
After 30 years of research, Patrick concluded that what is good for the mind, in terms of nutrition, is also good for the body, “My healthy lifestyle, with a low GL diet, daily supplements, 15 minutes exercise a day, plus the same for meditation, is good for mind, body and soul”. According to him, one of the most telling discoveries of science today is telomeres at the end of chromosomes. Patrick explains,
“These are like the hard bit on the end of shoelaces.” What’s equally noteworthy is that when people run out of telomere length, they die. Recent research shows that stress and cynicism shorten telomere length, while exercise, meditation, omega-3s, B vitamins and low homo-cysteine are all associated with longer telomeres.
Does Mediocre Health Equal Absence Of Illness?
People do tend to be motivated by immediate pain and future fears of disease, so helping people realise that what they do now can protect them from diseases in the future is the first step in the right direction.
For example, avoiding obesity is as important for reducing cancer as avoiding cigarettes. Patrick says that they also have assessment techniques and tests to see how close a person is to 100% healthy, “My online 100% health check is a great example. People actually find out concretely where there is room for improvement.
Also, they can take this one step further by measuring function.” He explains this with an example of measuring blood homo-cysteine levels. This determines how good patients are at methylation, a vital biochemical process that requires B vitamins. The optimal is to be below 6mmol/l. Another would be measuring HbA1c. If their score is below 5 percent, that indicates perfect blood sugar control. He is confident that in the future, these will become part of a functional and preventive medicine approach.
Implications For The Healthcare, Pharma And Food Industries
The medical industry is in bed with big pharma companies and governments rely on their taxes as well as the taxes earned from the food industry. Patrick questions how governments and the medical profession have allowed public health to degenerate so appallingly when it is obvious that processed, sweetened and refined foods are to blame
As the healthcare costs soar worldwide, there will come a point where something has to be done. It is a shame we have to wait until it is almost too late, with lifetime cancer risk now one in three and diabetes numbers going through the roof. We are digging our own graves with a knife and fork.
– Patrick Holford
Perhaps the solution lies in taxing sugar and spending some money educating doctors and bringing in more nutritionists into healthcare.
Tools, Supplements And Habits For Optimal Health
Patrick monitors himself using his own 100% health check and ensures that he stays above 90%. He also checks his homocysteine level, “It was 4.3 last time–that’s the average of a six year old. I keep myself reasonably fit and flexible. I’m as flexible now, at 57, as I was as a teenager.” He claims that eyesight has deteriorated a little with time and he’s gained 10kg since he was 20 so keeping on the low GL approach is a good reminder for him too. He has relegated two days a week to eating less and a long hill walk for a couple of hours most weeks, plus active holidays which are a must-have for working professionals.
The Dietician- Nathalie Haddad
Founder and Managing Director, The Right Bite Nutrition and Catering Services unveils her wellness strategies.
The Best Diet For People Over Forties
With all the information in the press and the media it can get quite downright confusing. What’s important is to keep it simple and focus on eating clean fresh foods; Nathalie advocates avoiding processed foods and including superfoods like quinoa and chia seeds and practising portion control, “Moderation is key.”
Chronological Ageing vs. Biological Ageing
We all know that the metabolism is based on muscle mass. “Muscle mass naturally decreases with age unless regular exercise maintains it and people eat properly to maintain this mass,” she explains. Too strict of a diet, along with irregular exercise, results in muscle loss, which in turn slows down the metabolism. By focusing on fresh, ‘clean’ high-quality foods with a wide variety of meals from different cuisines, Nathalie unveils her secrets of success.
Eating Disorders In This Region
Eating disorders are becoming more common in society, and the types of eating disorders that people were familiar with such as anorexia and bulimia are not the only issue now. People have become more aware when they do have a problem and ask for help. “The best way is to have a multi-disciplinary team approach of health professionals consisting of a dietician, a psychologist and a general practitioner who’re all experienced in dealing with such scenarios”, she explains.
Less Carbs, More Essential Fats?
Nutritional guidelines have evolved from the pyramid into the plate method that still highlights all the food groups, “I wouldn’t advise totally eliminating carbohydrates from one’s diet.” What is important is the type of and quantity of carb, protein and fat that one consumes.
Is Sugar The Enemy?
Sugar is found naturally in fruits as well, which are good for you as they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. On the other hand, adding refined white sugar to food is a definite no-no. With sugar, the more its consumed, the more your taste buds will start to crave it. Nathalie explains, “You can gradually decrease your sugar-intake and get used to not having it as part of your diet altogether.”
Tools, Supplements And Habits For Optimal Health
A balanced diet with five small meals a day are ideal. Starting the day with a litre of water is also essential to flush toxins from the system.
My food is usually from Right Bite or something I have prepared at home or at Nathalie’s Café. We generally stay away from processed and fast food items and try to consume fresh ingredients with lots of vegetables and fruits.
– Nathalie Haddad ,Founder and Managing Director, The Right Bite Nutrition and Catering Services
With a weakness for raw nuts, she eats a small handful of raw almonds or walnuts every day. She exercises three times a week and spends active weekends with her husband and daughter especially when the weather outside is nice.
The Holistic Physician-Dr. Christiane Northrup
A leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness shares four tips for empowering people toward vibrant health despite their genes.
People should take notice of how they talk about their health. Words often become destiny. The words people speak go into their own ears. They literally land on their body, and their cells respond. Instead of speaking about any disease or disability, people should speak positively about what they are capable of doing and how they are supporting themselves, and how they will become as healthy as their words deem them to be.
Acknowledge what diseases run in the family. It’s important for people to be able to fill out a family history for their medical provider and keep them informed. But, don’t allow this information to take up too much space in the brain. And, people should not speak as though it is inevitable that they will end up like a family member who has a particular disease. It is always preferable to maintain a positive outlook.
Use inner wisdom to elevate health legacy to a vibrant level. Her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, is all about cultivating inner wisdom to create health. There are many ways to access inner wisdom. One way is to pay attention to the REM cycle or the dreams when asleep. Other ways include tuning into emotions, the menstrual cycle or even body energy levels at different times.
People should listen to what their disease is telling them. They should start listening to their body before disease sets in. If they are already experiencing symptoms, they need to pay attention to what their body is indicating. Acknowledging that lifestyle changes are the order of the day is the first step. Allowing space for emotions to surface as well as be released is next.
The Ayurvedic Approach- Dr. Shahuja And Dr. Arun Kumar
Ayurveda, Yoga and wellness consultants.
Yoga helps with daily living as it provides strength, flexibility and balance on a physical level and calmness, clarity of thought and the ability to withstand stress, on an emotional one. For example, a stressful situation can result in a fight or flight response, which is an in-built defense system that’s triggered when the brain senses danger. There is a substantial elevation in the heart and respiratory rate, pupils dilate, digestion slows down and blood is thrust to major muscle groups to give a burst of energy to the body. Yogic practices allow people to proactively ‘respond’ rather than react to situations.
Inspiring People To Ramp Up Optimal Wellness
The ideal way to inspire others is to lead by example. Everyone practices Yoga and meditation on a daily basis at Shreyas and follows the principles of yogic living.
Tests And Protocols Used
Dr. Shahuja says that she provides guests with a meditation audio CD and a Yoga manual, “These tools help them continue and build their practice back home as well.” Indian ancient scriptures say that a teacher is one who dispels darkness or ignorance, and allows the student to understand, explore and enquire. One-on-one sessions with guests and explaining the importance of incorporating Yoga into daily life and interactive sessions on Naturopathy and Ayurveda are tools of the trade.
Challenges For The Healthcare, Pharma & Food Industries
Toxins, harmful preservatives, artificial taste enhancers and additives are widespread dangers that consumers face on a daily basis.
Dr. Arun Kumar explains that most people are either ignorant of the extent of harm these products can cause or else use cheaper alternatives as organic cosmetics or food are both relatively expensive and difficult to obtain.
To manage this, he says, “Educating people about the harmful side effects of chemical additives and a responsible approach by wellness consultants as well as health insurance companies plays a significant role.”
Habits To Promote
- A simple yoga regime of 45 minutes that includes simple postural breathing exercises is a must. The prana (the life force) is replenished when the body is nourished with nuts, cereals, seasonal vegetables and fruits.
- Cooking styles like steaming, boiling and baking are preferred over frying to retain the nutritional values of produce. A disciplined eating regime of eating at regular intervals is ideal. Avoiding starvation or over-eating reflects the moderation that yogic living espouses.
- Food should be chewed properly and eaten slowly, limiting the intake of water during meals. Water should be had half an hour before and after the meals. Breakfast should be the heaviest meal of the day, followed by a nutrition-dense lunch and a light dinner.
- Dinner should be eaten at least two hours prior to sleep. A minimum of 8-10 glasses of water is necessary to keep the body well hydrated. This intake should be well spread over the day.
Gems Of Yoga
- Helps practitioners manage stress.
- Asanas restore and heal the body, and bring about strength, flexibility and balance.
- Pranayama (Breathing processes) allow for the free flow of Prana (vital force) of life. These processes have the power to tackle most psychosomatic stress related problems.
- Yoga Nidra or Yogic sleep fosters a state of unconscious sleep for deeper, intense relaxation and spiritual exploration of the self.