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Aging Gracefully and Naturally

A look at how - and if - we can delay aging, naturally.

Spring Cleansing

Nope, it doesn't involve a vacuum or a broom. Body-cleansing systems are touted everywhere as a way to detoxify the body and get rid of what ails us.

One such program, the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse Program, takes place over six weeks. Participants use organic herbal tinctures to support the liver, detoxify poisons, and help the body remove the layers of infection. "They also cut back on simple sugars and foods known to spike blood sugar," says Dean, who developed the program. "By slowly changing the way they eat, you are able to renew your energy and strengthen your immune system and lose unwanted weight."

Other cleansing fasts may involve only drinking juice or water.

But There Are Some Detractors

Not all health-care professionals are sold on antiaging medicine, including Nir Barzilai, MD, director of the Institute of Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

"If there really was a good antiaging drug, companies would be doing huge studies," he says, adding that "there are statements and no data."

Though vitamins and minerals may not be harmful, some supplements may be, he warns WebMD.

Growth hormone, for example. "Companies are quoting studies that suggest it may have benefits, which led to [government]-funded studies to see if it's true, and they have shown some benefits but also some risks," he says. "The benefits may be skin tightness, but the risk is cancer.

"Vitamins are not dangerous, but that's not how they are being marketed," he says. "Some say that vitamins will decrease aging, and the answer is that there is no evidence for that -- it might, but nobody has shown it yet."

The best thing you can do to delay aging, he says, is to keep your body weight at a normal level.

"We are trying to look at two models of longevity, and one is a caloric-restricted model, and mice, rats, or monkeys who eat 60% of calories of their brothers live up to twice as long," he says.

"The basic thing we know is that if you are lean or obese, you have totally different risks of all different causes of death," he says.

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Reviewed on August 11, 2003

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