How to Reverse Aging – 10 Myths Surrounding Men’s Health
There are many misconceptions that surround men’s health and particularly healthy aging. These myths do nothing but hold men back, and frankly, we need to get rid of them. Another aspect of my philosophy is being completely up to date with the medical literature and backing up all my recommendations with peer-reviewed, evidence-based research studies.
Growth hormone therapy and testosterone therapy are the same as steroid abuse by athletes.
Bodybuilders and athletes who use testosterone replacement therapy to enhance their performance are illegally (and dangerously) using hormone therapy in a manner not intended because they are taking too much and are most probably not deficient. In fact, I’ll bet the illegal users aren’t getting tested for hormonal deficiencies, but are merely using the drug to ramp up their testosterone levels to as much as 10 to 20 times higher than the upper limits of the healthy range.
Testosterone replacement therapy needs clinical supervision. Because illegal users’ levels aren’t monitored via periodic blood work, the concentration of testosterone in their system can reach hazardous levels. However, clinically supervised testosterone replacement therapy for the purpose of counteracting hormone deficiencies and promoting good health is safe and effective, with minimal side effects.
It’s also important to remember that growth hormone and testosterone therapies are prescribed to prevent disease and reverse disease; they will not help you grow muscles and get ripped. I look the way I do because I spend hours at the gym each week working out. This is the most common misconception: that by taking these hormones men can build muscle and get rid of body fat.
However, I will say that what hormone replacement therapy has done for me typifies what it has done for my patients. It has helped me create an optimal environment within my body, a healthy environment of hormones that are at healthy levels, which has enabled me to maximize all the training that I do, all the cardio and resistance training and flexibility training so that I can look like I do in my 80s. If I just did all the training and had low hormone levels, I wouldn’t look anything like I do now. If I did no training and just took hormones, I wouldn’t look anything like I do now.
It is very likely that the same young, professional athletes who are abusing hormone therapies are also working out at elite levels every day. These guys train at such intense levels that to some extent it’s questionable whether their athletic performance really benefits from growth hormone or testosterone replacement therapy.
I do believe that these therapies make them feel psychologically better and probably allow them to train harder and have fewer injuries. At the same time, I know that they are putting themselves at great risk for potentially serious medical problems.
One of the big complaints my patients share with me is that when they start the program and are going to the gym after not working out for a very long while, it takes them a few days just to recover from just one workout session. Once I correct their hormone deficiencies, that all goes away and they can recover more rapidly, which allows them to work out more often and at a higher level.
Testosterone therapy causes cancer of the prostate and testicles and other serious health concerns.
In fact, reversing testosterone deficiencies is one of the key ways to prevent these and other types of cancers. This unfortunate myth has steered the medical community in the wrong direction for over 70 years.
It started with a 1941 journal article which reported that testosterone injections increased the rate of prostate cancer growth and that castration decreased it. Yet the problem wasn’t with testosterone, it was with the study: It was based on only one patient!
Subsequent studies have failed to link elevated testosterone levels with increased risk of prostate cancer. In fact, one large longitudinal study found just the opposite to be true—low testosterone levels were a risk factor for prostate cancer.
Another frequently repeated myth is that testosterone replacement therapy increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Not so. Again, it’s just the opposite. The heart has the highest concentration of testosterone receptors in the body, so testosterone has a huge impact on heart health.
Men with healthy testosterone levels have fewer cardiovascular issues and lower mortality rates than those with deficiencies. Other studies link optimal levels of testosterone to reduced risk of coronary artery disease and hypertension, as well as an improved cardiac function for those with preexisting heart disease.
Older men who undergo testosterone replacement therapy typically see a decrease in LDL and overall cholesterol levels. On the flip side, low testosterone levels have been associated with increased atherosclerosis.
Men don’t experience anything like menopause.
While men don’t experience a precipitous fall in hormone levels that cause noticeable symptoms as women do, they absolutely do lose hormones as they age, and the results can be just as devastating.
The male version of menopause, known as andropause or late-onset hypogonadism, is not yet universally recognized by the medical community, but its effects are all too real. Men begin to experience a gradual, insidious decline in testosterone and other hormones starting in our thirties. By our forties, we may start to feel the effects: decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased bone density, fatigue, weight gain, loss of muscle mass and strength, even anxiety or depression.
A traditional doctor may shrug off these complaints as the “normal” signs and symptoms of aging and leave it at that. Such medical practices are what perpetuate the myth that andropause isn’t real. Or they may check your testosterone level and—finding it to be in the “normal” range—allowing the problem to go untreated. However, the problem lies in the definition of “normal.” The reference range is between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl).
A testosterone “deficiency” is characterized by levels below 200 ng/dl. So if your tested levels are above 200, the traditional physician may think your testosterone levels are fine. The reality is that a low borderline- “normal” test result is equivalent to a D-minus on your report card. Raising your testosterone level to the upper normal range of 700–1,100 is what I look to achieve for my patients, and you shouldn’t settle for less either. By reversing hormone loss, you’ll reverse the symptoms of andropause and the diseases that accompany it.
Men cannot increase muscle mass and strength as they get older. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve gained 10 pounds of muscle in the last five years just by doing the right kind of exercise, eating clean, and making sure my hormone levels are at the top end of the normal range. The Life Plan is meant to make sure that we avoid losses of muscle tissue and strength as we age. You’ll first learn how to get back into exercise safely so that you can begin to build muscle and get stronger, which will help protect your health for years to come.
Then, by following this program, you’ll quickly start to see results as you get leaner and more ripped, which will motivate you to make exercise an integral part of your life. The truth is that men need to increase muscle mass in order to combat sarcopenia, a condition marked by muscle atrophy and loss that typically begins in your thirties and worsens as you age. If you don’t exercise properly, muscle loss will progress at the rate of 3 to 5 percent with each decade starting in your thirties and forties, then increase to 10 to 20 percent every decade after that.
Declining sexual function or interest (libido) is a normal part of aging.
If you want to use this as your excuse, go ahead.
But I’ll show you how to have a vibrant sex life and enjoy every minute of it. Having sex three times a week serves as a key benchmark that you’re healthy and physically fit. Yet an estimated 34 percent of all American men age 40 to 70 suffer from some level of erectile dysfunction. Before you fill your Viagra prescription or talk to your doctor about getting one, there’s plenty you can do yourself to get your sex life back on track, beginning with exercise.
I’m not talking about using your bed as a trampoline, either. Physically active men over age 50 reported better erections—and had a 30 percent lower risk for impotence than their inactive cohorts. Another study of over 40,000 men became the largest study to demonstrate that the more exercise a man does, the less likely he’ll experience erectile dysfunction. So once you get with the program, you’ll find that your sexual health improves along with your physical health, and you may go back to having the sex life of a 20-year-old.
I’m not a candidate for heart disease because I exercise, my cholesterol is in the normal range, and my last stress test was normal
I wish this one were true, but sadly, it’s not always the case.
I believe, and the medical literature supports me, that the better care your heart gets—including the right exercise, nutrition, nutraceuticals, and healthy hormone levels—the easier it is to reduce your risk of heart disease. But it doesn’t give you a free pass. What’s more, over 90 percent of heart attack events in men with significantly diseased blood vessels happen at arterial sites undetectable by conventional diagnostics (that is, stress testing).
Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for men (and women), every strategy in my book is designed to help you prevent or reverse cardiovascular problems. My approach is focused on protecting your endothelium, the thin, one-cell layer lining the interior of the heart and the entire vascular tree. The endothelium forms a dynamic interface between your blood and your body. When not properly cared for, your endothelial cells become dysfunctional and fall prey to numerous disease processes that may cause atherosclerosis, hypertension, inflammatory syndromes, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia.
A 2003 Mayo Clinic paper defined endothelial dysfunction as the “ultimate risk” among all the cardiovascular risk factors. So even if you don’t have heart disease or a family history of risk, you must still work at improving the health of your endothelium, your largest organ.
Carrying a spare tire is another part of aging that I can’t do anything about.
I used to have a huge belly, and now I’m incredibly lean. Belly fat is hard to get rid of, but not impossible. In fact, belly fat is the last area where you’ll see results as you get leaner, but getting rid of it has been a top priority in my life and is a major objective of my Life Plan. That’s because it’s a pretty clear sign of premature aging and also a huge health risk. On my program, you’ll learn how to get rid of your gut with the right exercises and foods you’ll actually enjoy eating.
For example, a 2011 Harvard study that closely examined weight-loss patterns over 20 years has shown that a diet high in vegetables and whole grains like I prescribe is the best way to lose weight. We also know that certain foods actually increase metabolism and play a significant role in promoting fat loss, including belly fat.
The study also found that there are only two foods proven to encourage weight loss: peanut butter and yogurt, both of which you can eat pretty frequently on this plan. On the flip side, the study confirmed what I’m sure you can guess: Every guy’s favorite foods—steak, potatoes, sweets, and beer—are literally guaranteed to add inches to your midsection.
I’ll show you why a strong cardiovascular exercise program is critical for burning belly fat and shrinking your waistline while you shed pounds all over and lower your percent body fat so that eventually you’ll be impressed with your new six-pack.
Retirement is when I finally get to sit back and relax.
If that’s your plan, then pick out a new rocking chair and plan to spend plenty of time on it. But that’s not what I’m looking forward to. When my dad retired at age 65 he was all about sitting in his La-Z-Boy.
That’s what his whole generation thought: They were supposed to just stop doing everything. But in reality, the last thing they needed was to sit around and take it easy. By the time my dad was my age he was profoundly deconditioned and had lost much of his muscle mass and strength. Worse, his thinking was cloudy, and he had lost all appreciation for life, to the point that he actually dreaded getting up every morning.
At 80, I’m not at all ready to retire, but when I think about it, I’m hoping that retirement will give me more time to increase my exercise program and do more physical activity outdoors because I’ll have more time on my hands. I won’t miss workouts because of my hectic schedule.
If you are new to retirement and out of shape, this is a perfect time to really focus on your own health and well-being. Take advantage of this well-structured program of exercise and nutrition, and use all the tools available to regain your vitality and energy, so that you can really enjoy your retirement and fully participate in whatever is in store for your future.
As you get older you need less sleep
As we get older we typically get less sleep because nighttime becomes more interrupted with more intermittent awakenings, but the truth is that you really need the same number of hours of sleep, and maybe even more. During sleep your body repairs itself: It’s the time when you produce most of your growth hormone. So sleep is extremely important, and men who are sleep deprived will be the first to tell you that every aspect of their life is affected, from health to mental clarity, to energy levels, to progression of diseases.
If I get less than seven hours of sleep, I’ll wake up fine and go to the gym and feel fine until the afternoon, and then I just really start dragging. I start getting aches and pains in my muscles and joints. I also notice that my performance in the gym is not as good: I can’t lift as much. But if I get eight hours of sleep, even if I have to get up to use the bathroom, I can go through the day with high energy right up until it’s time to go to bed. I never think about taking a nap.
Getting good sleep is vital for better thinking and your overall health. It’s also a necessity when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off for good. According to an American Heart Association Conference in 2011, Columbia University researchers have demonstrated that people who get less sleep consume significantly more calories.
A good eating and exercise program, like mine, is a key ingredient in increasing your energy, which can then keep you alert and awake throughout the day and help you sleep better at night. You’ll also see how an eating plan centered on small, frequent meals throughout the day will provide much more energy than three larger meals.
Memory lapses and brain fog have nothing to do with my overall health
Your brain’s performance is one of the best indicators of how the rest of your body is functioning. The brain is a delicate and sensitive organ that requires significant amounts of energy, oxygen, and nutrients. So if you believe that you’re not thinking as clearly as you used to, it’s not a sign of aging: It’s a wakeup call for you to take a good look at your health, and see how you can improve the way your internal systems are working.
Brain fog can include feeling spaced out, forgetful, confused, lost, tired, and having difficulty with concentration. If you’re not keeping up in the office or you’re slow to remember where you’re supposed to be, you may be experiencing the first signs of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Luckily, my book will show you how to reverse these symptoms by focusing on the right foods, engaging in smart, frequent exercise, and correcting hormone deficiencies so that you can avoid brain fog, dramatically improve your brain health, and think clearly for years to come.