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Eternal Youth

Kim Fuller

While aging is inevitable longevity is accessible. Local experts share the best ways to extend your years from the inside-out. 

"Joint health is so important because mobility and activity are two of the secret ingredients to longevity and quality of life" says Dr. Peter Millett director of shoulder surgery and a shoulder knee elbow and sports medicine specialist at The Steadman Clinic. "Without good joint health it becomes difficult to remain active and independent."

Millett says a sedentary lifestyle versus one of movement can lead to many disease processes such as arthritis obesity diabetes or heart disease.

A healthy lifestyle that promotes both aerobic and anaerobic activity is key Millet explains. He recommends thirty to sixty minutes of daily activity with appropriate warmup and stretching to help prevent injury. Activities such as yoga or tai chi can help with one's balance and may prevent falls later in life he adds.

"Extra pounds at the waistline translate into extra loads at the hip knee and ankle joints which over time can contribute to osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions."

Dr. Karen Nern board-certified physician and owner of Vail Dermatology says studies have shown that nutrition really does affect your skin.

"People who increase their intake of fruits and vegetables are proven to have more red and yellow in their skin" Nern says. "This makes their skin look better."

Exposure and tanning beds will increase aging in skin and the risk of skin cancer.

Nern recommends moisturizing skin with a cream while the skin is still moist and to use products with antioxidants (Vitamin C Vitamin E phloretin ferrulic acid idebenone) a broad spectrum sunscreen with zinc as well as skin products that contain anti-aging components like retinol which is a form of Vitamin A that helps with fine lines.

Jennifer Straw registered nurse at Vail Valley Medical Center certified yoga instructor and wellness coach says that stress is one of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease and other diseases.

"You can't do anything about your age or your family history but you can work to manage stress in healthy ways" says Straw.

Exercise is one great stress reliever since it releases endorphins that make you feel great and since the effects stay with you beyond your workout. 
"I have always found that finding activities that you truly enjoy is the best way to get regular exercise in your life" Straw shares.

She recommends meditation and restorative yoga as great tools to manage stress while resting your body from exercise which she says is also necessary. And don't forget down time.

"It's important to take rest days to let your muscles recover and rebuild” she says.

"Certainly staying young is more based on how you feel rather than your age on paper or even how you look" says Melaine Hendershott registered dietician at Shaw Regional Cancer Center. "If you feel healthy vital and have a good quality of life you feel young."

Hendershott explains that the earlier you start fueling your body with what keeps you young the younger your body will remain and you will reduce the risk of "feeling old."

Just like children are so often told: "eat your fruits and veggies." Hendershott says lots of fruits and vegetables omega-3 fatty acids and whole grains are the key to eating for longevity.

Fruits and vegetables are important for their anti-oxidant richness she explains which means they combat free radicals — molecules that cause widespread cell damage and are linked to most chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's heart disease cancer and diabetes.

"Antioxidants also make you look great from the inside-out" she says. "They help fight skin-damaging free radicals keep your vision sharp and protect your brain."

The goal should be to have two cups of fruit and three cups of veggies per day and to incorporate at least two grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day from fatty fish walnuts and ground flax seeds to reduce chronic inflammation in the body.

Exercise is essential to anti-aging. “It not only helps to maintain the body's normal physiological functions it also emotionally rejuvenates the mind and soul” says Ashley Dentler Howard Head Sports Medicine physical therapist. “Exercise helps to control your weight boosts your energy and maintains a healthy emotional state and mood. It also helps to fight off disease and other health conditions and helps maintain better sleeping habits and more restful sleep.”

And “exercising” doesn't mean spending hours in a gym. “Exercise can be small activities throughout your day or week that add up in the end” Dentler says. Studies show that simply walking most days helps reduce risk of dementia by over 30 percent and that mindful movement activities like yoga are great for reducing stress and prevention falls. Current recommendations are to exercise at least 150 minutes per week.

Margaret Brammer social worker and survivorship coordinator at Shaw Regional Cancer Center says physical activity can have extraordinary long-term benefits — not just for a person's body but also for their mind and spirit as well.

"Study after study is showing us that incorporating some sort of physical activity is a great way to reduce anxiety depression and stress” Brammer says. “Physical activity helps regulate our mood helps us sleep better and increases our self-esteem."

When we take care of our bodies we feel more alert our concentration improves our mood lifts and we find situations more manageable. 
"We only have one life so we deserve to have it be as happy healthy and stress-free as possible” Brammer says.

Dr. Matthew Ehrlich board-certified ophthalmologist says he often sees patients in their 30s and 40s who have not seen an eye doctor in five to 10 years.

"But what I cannot emphasize enough is the importance of a good annual eye exam with dilation” Ehrlich says.
Ehrlich explains how preventative yearly exams are how people don't miss dangerous and even deadly conditions like melanoma skin cancer in the back of the eye.

UV protection for the eyes is essential in our sunny and high-altitude environment and Vitamins A C E and zinc have been proven to help detour macular degeneration a serious condition of vision loss that is associated with aging eyes.

"Fish oil is also great for dry eyes since they fatty acids help keep tear film healthy and moist" he says.

Ehrlich recommends paying close attention to the eye history of your family members in order to help predict an onset of cataracts which is a clouding of the lens of aging eyes.

"We see more early cataracts here in the mountains than at sea level" Ehrlich says.

Katie Mazzia nutritionist at Vail Valley Medical Center says supplements are not a substitute for healthy eating.

Supplements provide single nutrients and may not work the same as a combination of nutrients from eating a whole food Mazzia explains. She says broccoli is considered a "superfood" for all its nutrients (color flavor fiber vitamins minerals etc.) not just because it's high in Vitamin C.

"As we age there may be a place for supplements for those who are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals such as Vitamin B12 Vitamin D calcium or iron" says Mazzia.

Overall she says work on improving your diet first and always check with your doctor and pharmacist first before staring any kind of supplement.


Joints: Dr. Peter Millett The Steadman Clinic 
Skin: Dr. Karen Nern Vail Dermatology
Stress: Jennifer Straw Vail Valley Medical Center
Nutrition: Melaine Hendershott Shaw Regional Cancer Center 
Excersice: Ashley Dentler Howard Head Sports Medicine
Eyes: Dr. Matthew Ehrlich The Eye Center of the Rockies
Supplements: Katie Mazzie Shaw Regional Cancer Center