The Fountain of Youth

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Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 7.41.16 PMBy Dr. Nina Radcliff

According to legend, drinking or dipping into the Fountain of Youth will get rid of wrinkles, thinning hair, and turkey neck. This mystical water has led men on missions and voyages dating back to the 5th century BC.

But so far, it has eluded us. However, our desire to turn back the hands of time continues today. It is so strong that I think we could achieve unanimous bipartisan agreement and pass legislation on it.  Maybe that’s going too far. But you get my point. As I celebrate my birthday this week, I cannot wait for something that may never be found or come up for vote. I need a Plan B.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Looking and Feeling Younger:

  1. Decrease stress. If you don’t believe me, compare the picture of our American Presidents at the time of Inauguration and at the end of their term. Enduring the stressors of being the most powerful person on the planet makes our President age in dog years. When stress is chronic, it is like pressing the pedal to the metal on a fast track to aging. The reason being is that it damages DNA in the cells, contributes to Alzheimer’s dementia, and vision and hearing loss. Additionally, when we are stressed we are more likely to eat poorly, exercise less, imbibe more tonics, and rely on medications. 
  2. Stay active. Exercising and being active help maintain a healthy weight, tone muscles, strengthen bones, improve our mood, and think more clearly. Additionally, one study showed that when men and women over the age of 40 years old exercised frequently, their skin was closer in composition to that of 20- and 30-year-olds, even if they were past age 65!    
  3. Eat healthy.  I recently shared with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani that, “We are what we eat. So we never want to be cheap, fast, or easy.” And I stand by it. Fruit and veggies contain antioxidants that function as weapons against free radicals that can accelerate damage and aging of our cells. Instead of limiting it to an apple, I would like to tweak the saying as follows: “Four to six servings of fruit and veggies a day, can help keep the doctors away.”
  4. Apply sunscreen. Like our Postal Service motto, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail” shall prevent us from applying sunscreen. UV radiation is present even when it is overcast or in the winter. Sun damage not only can cause skin cancer, but it is responsible for 90% of our skin’s aging. Rule of thumb to ward off wrinkles and skin damage: broad spectrum, greater than SPF 30.
  5. Stay hydrated. As we age, our fountain of youth’s water level gets lower and lower. Although drinking water cannot erase wrinkles, it may be able to put a speed bump in the way of this process to slow it down.  Water helps maintain the elasticity of our skin
  6. Attitude. Age is a gift not everyone gets…”Don’t regret getting older. It is a privilege denied to many” (Unknown). Having a positive attitude helps to keep us young, vital, and healthy, just as a pessimistic, negative attitude can cause us to age. And remember, age is nothing but a number. Therefore, I no longer claim my actual age, but instead take claim to how old I feel. To that extent, I will remain 25 years old, which allows me to vote, have an alcoholic beverage from time to time, and rent a car.
  7. Sleep. We all know that not getting enough sleep can make our eyes puffy and have dark circles. Additionally, insomnia can decrease our energy levels, increase stress, and pack on the pounds. When we sleep, it allows our body time to repair and rejuvenate itself. 

While we may never literally find the fountain of youth, figuratively, the power is within us.  It is the accumulation of the choices we make over a long period of time that keeps us youthful.  As Sophia Lauren so aptly stated: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Look no further!

Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures. 

She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists where she serves on committees for Young Physicians and Communications. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.