It's hard to be a great dentist when you feel old.
BY NATE BOOTH, DDS
I remember when it happened. It was three years ago. I don't remember why it happened. Maybe it was receiving the dreaded AARP enrollment application in the mail. Maybe it was my 37-inch gut dragging me down. Maybe it was my age. Fifty-four isn't exactly over-the-hill, but I could clearly see the downward slope from where I was standing.
All I knew was that for the first time in my life, I felt old. My energy level was in the pits. My sex drive was a mere fraction of my hormone-soaked 20s. I was beginning to exhibit signs of the grumpy-old-man syndrome. I just felt old —and I didn't like the feeling one bit! Since then, I've talked to dozens of people about my "feeling old" experience. Now I know I'm not alone. Many of the 75 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964 feel the same way. After all, we're the baby boomers. We've always been young, healthy, and vital. But now we're beginning to feel old, sick, and tired. This isn't supposed to happen.
By most measures, I was healthy three years ago. I didn't smoke. I ate relatively well. I went to the gym three times a week and walked most other days. I enjoyed my occupation. But something was definitely leaking away, and I was determined to find out what it was. So, I started exercising more. That helped a little. I begin taking more supplements. That didn't seem to help at all. Then, as fate would have it, I read an article in the local newspaper written by a physician about vitality and longevity medicine. It sounded intriguing. I called the physician and scheduled an informational appointment. During the first visit, I learned that:
1) much of aging is optional. This statement isn't based on wishful thinking or science fiction; it's based on research documented in scientific literature.
2) we now have biomarkers to detect the presence of degenerative disease decades prior to the first symptom.
3); we also have the technology to alter, slow, or block the course of degenerative disease in this pre-symptom phase.
4) our hormones decline with age. This decline accelerates the degenerative diseases of aging.
5) aging is a disease whose symptoms can be controlled and whose progress can be slowed — safely and effectively.
6) if I made some changes in my lifestyle and went on a medically supervised nutritional supplement and hormone-balancing plan, I would definitely feel younger and stronger while preventing degenerative diseases.
Like the three old guys in the movie "Cocoon," I decided to plunge into the vitality and longevity pool by scheduling an evaluation and having some comprehensive blood work done.
Two weeks prior to my appointment with the doctor, I went to a lab to give the blood samples. I also filled out a health history questionnaire and faxed it to the doctor. The questionnaire and blood test results were reviewed by the physician prior to my visit. On my evaluation day, I first took a number of physical and mental tests. Then, the doctor performed an in-depth analysis of my health history, did a comprehensive physical exam, and reviewed all my tests with me. Finally, he created a personalized vitality and longevity plan for me based on my test results, health needs, and personal goals.
My plan had four parts:
1) Nutrition — I learned which foods promote aging and disease and how I could avoid them. I also learned which foods enhance health and vitality.
2) Nutritional supplementation — There's a lot of misinformation out there concerning nutritional supplementation. My doctor cut through all the hype and recommended only the supplements proven to improve health and fight disease. Some of the supplements he recommended include:
• a small daily dose of aspirin;
• various vitamin and mineral supplements;
• brain boosters including Glycerophosphocholine, L-Carnitine, and others;
• calcium and eight other related minerals for bone health;
• a prostate health formula;
• fish oil caps for the anti-inflammatory benefit;
• and other formulas for joint protection and cancer prevention
3) Exercise — The data is overwhelming in showing that regular physical exercise is a key part of any successful vitality and longevity program. I was actually doing well in this area, but learned some specifics about benefits related to the type and timing of the exercise.
• Hormone balancing — In our late 20s, the levels of many important hormones begin to decline. These hormones include growth hormone, testosterone, DHEA, melatonin, and sometimes thyroid hormone. In women, the levels of estradiol and progesterone are maintained until menopause, when they drop off abruptly. Studies show that declining hormone levels correlate directly with a breakdown in structure and function of our bodies. These hormone declines are responsible for a substantial portion of the symptoms of aging and degenerative disease.
Here are the hormones my physician recommended to me and the effects of each hormone:
• Growth hormone — Human growth hormone is misnamed. It should be called "tissue-repair hormone" or "youth-preserving hormone." It increases muscle mass, bone density, skin thickness, rate of wound healing, immune responsiveness, aerobic capacity, and sense of well-being. Growth hormone also protects the brain.
•Testosterone — Testosterone supplementation in men increases strength, muscle mass, libido, and sexual performance. It decreases body fat. Higher endogenous testosterone levels have been correlated in many studies with a reduction in a number of cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, serum insulin, and risk of diabetes.
• DHEA — DHEA is often called the "mother" hormone of the body because it is needed for the production of numerous other essential hormones. Proper levels of DHEA decrease depression and improve immune system response. Optimal levels of DHEA also lower cortisol and insulin levels.
• Thyroid hormones — Thyroid hormones affect every function in our bodies because they control metabolism. Thyroid levels that are too high can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, and sweating. Thyroid levels that are too low can cause fatigue, dry skin, constipation, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold.
• Melatonin — Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that regulates sleep patterns. As we age, our melatonin levels decrease. That's why older people usually sleep less, even though they need the same amount of sleep they needed as younger adults. Melatonin is a potent tumor inhibitor as well.
I have my blood drawn and hormone levels checked regularly by my vitality and longevity physician to make sure my levels are in the optimum ranges.
The new Nate
It's been three years since I first started my vitality and longevity program. Here's what's happened to my blood tests during the past three years:
• My triglycerides have dropped from 110 to 72. It's best to be less than 100.
• My cholesterol/HDL ratio dropped from 4.3 to 3.5. It's best for the ratio to be less than 3.0. My doctor says we're on the way.
• My free testosterone jumped from 86 to 174. Whoopee! Fifty to 210 is the normal range for men ages 20 to 90.
• My DHEA more than doubled — from 153 to 368. The normal range is 280 to 500.
In addition, I've:
• dropped 3 inches off my waist.
• lost 9 pounds of body weight.
• increased my muscle mass. Normally, if your waist decreases 3 inches, you lose about 18 pounds. The fact that I only lost 9 pounds shows that I put on about 9 pounds of muscle.
• increased the amount of the weight I push around in the gym about 75 percent.
• became dramatically more handsome. (See the before and after photos. Both were publicity photos taken by professional photographers.)
Vitality and longevity medicine is about more than leveling the playing field between a 30-year-old and a 54-year-old. It's also about evidence-based methods to prevent degenerative diseases of the heart, brain, skeletal system, and cancer. Growing old is easier when you can maintain health and vitality. I've experienced it in my own life. I'd encourage you to explore it further. There are a few qualified vitality and longevity physicians throughout the nation. My vitality and longevity physician is Dr. David Leonardi, who practices in the Denver area. I saw Dr. Leonardi in person for my evaluation appointment. I chose him because he goes far beyond hormone replacement to focus on natural means to prevent degenerative disease. I live in Las Vegas, so I have my periodic blood work done locally. Then, Dr. Leonardi and I discuss the results on the phone. Visit Dr. Leonardi's Web site at www.go2lehi.com to learn more about vitality and longevity medicine.
Dentistry is a demanding profession. Running a business, leading your team, and seeing patients take high levels of energy. And if you feel old, you won't have the energy you need to do the jobs effectively. Your patients, your dental team, your family, and you will be shortchanged by your lack of fuel. Vitality and longevity medicine will help refill your tank. Check it out.
Three Years Ago
Now I feel young.
Three years ago my energy level was waning.
Now it' surging.
Three years ago my sex drive
Now it's increased.
Three years ago my creativity quotient was low.
Now it's off the chart.
Three years ago I was becoming
a grumpy old man.
Now I'm my cheerful self again.