By Lauren Kessler
Originally Posted On February 8, 2014
Lauren Kessler, an award-winning immersion reporter, is the author of Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging. On her blog, she writes more about the hope and hype of the anti-aging industry.
I am in the commercial crosshairs of the $88 billion "anti-aging" industry. And so are you. We health-conscious baby boomers are walking around with targets on our backs. From physicians to Big Pharma to internet scammers, everyone wants a piece of us. They want us to get thousand-dollar tests, take youth-boosting hormones and buy exotic anti-aging concoctions. They want us to go under the knife and have $300 snake venom facials and drink harmonically balanced water.
As both a personal and a journalistic endeavor, I investigated the hope and hype of the anti-aging movement. I looked at the best research and the worst scams, went to conferences and clinics, spent time in cutting-edge labs and visited high-promising websites. I asked questions and used myself – within reason – as a guinea pig to try to root out the truth (or at least the promise) of anti-aging. I wrote about this eye-opening journey in my book. Following are three of the lesser-known strategies I discovered, all of which worked for me.
Light Trumps Surgery?
For many people, anti-aging means looking young, and that means surgery or paralyzing injections. But paying a plastic surgeon to create a young face makes no sense if the body underneath (heart, arteries, brain, muscles) is tick-tocking its way to senescence.
Still, there is something to looking in the mirror and seeing a more youthful face; it could inspire you to take action to feel as good as you now look. Conversely, if you've been working on inner youth through diet, exercise and positive thinking, why not rejuvenate your outside so you look as good as you feel?
I explored the world of plastic surgery and endured the harrowing experience of having one of the country's top doctors stare at and evaluate every line, wrinkle, fold, crevice and spot on my face. You can thank me later. The facial rejuvenation treatment I finally decided to try is called IPL (intense pulsed light), a non-invasive series of laser-zapping treatments to address "hyper-pigmentation" – aka, age spots – and to diminish sun damage, tiny veins and uneven skin tone. I had the treatment three times — and it worked. No more spots. Really. The before-and-after photos taken at the medical spa clearly show a more even-toned, brighter, healthier-looking face.
Joining the Detox Frenzy
Do we live in a world full of preservatives, additives, pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, lead, mercury, PCBs, saturated fats, trans fats and the latest big bad, high-fructose corn syrup? We sure do. Are some or all of these harmful to our health and well-being? Absolutely. So if these substances contribute to ill health and our "environmental" aging, isn't it logical that ridding our bodies of them would help turn back our biological clocks?
Our bodies are designed to be self-cleaning machines. With our protective layers of skin, air-filtering lungs, and magnificent blood-purifying livers, we're built to handle toxins, but some believe we are now overloading the system. We're creating more work than our livers can handle, which is stressing and aging this premier cleansing organ and, by extension, our entire body. This concept made sense to me, so after much research into the booming cottage industry that is detox, I consulted a nutritionist who put me on a two-week, four-phase systemwide cleanse.
My personal cleanse was a relatively sane progressive "elimination" regimen meant to give the liver a breather and help the body take a little vacation from internal overwork. These were my four phases, each lasting three or four days: