By Robin Westley Martin
Since Covid-19 many of us think more about our health, as we are continually being told that a healthy immune system will help us deal with this disease. If we do our best to keep our minds and bodies in tip-top condition, it shows up in our outward appearance. And we start to look and feel younger than our chronological age.
Friends tell me that after middle-age it is a good idea to have a medical check-up at a hospital or clinic about every18 months or so. Advances in medical science mean that if problems are caught early, they can be rapidly alleviated before they become serious or life-threatening, or even cured completely in some cases.
I had listened carefully to recommendations about check-ups, but had done nothing about it. The daily reports about the spread of the pandemic, though, made me think more deeply.
There were many stories about healthy, fit people who had succumbed to Covid-19, losing their lives at an age considerably younger than me. It was time to look into what I could do to look after myself more – and to hope to hear that I look at least 10 years younger than my physical age.
I started searching on Google, and I found many articles giving advice on how to look and feel younger. What stood out was the focus many of them had on our diet. Food not only powers our bodies but can also be its medicine.
The foods you eat can help you age better, both inside and out, and I resolved to begin a regime of putting more healthy fuel into my body.
I started out by ditching my cooking oils and switching to extra virgin olive oil. It’s one of the healthiest fats on earth, and research has shown that it may help prevent many common diseases associated with aging. It lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps prevent metabolic syndrome and may be effective in fighting cancer.
Extra virgin olive oil also help your skin look younger, it has strong anti-inflammatory effects on the skin and can protect it from sun damage, while at the same time it increases elasticity.
Fatty fish is truly an anti-aging food. Its long-chain omega-3 fats are beneficial against heart disease, inflammation and ulcerative colitis, amongst many other diseases.
The antioxidant profile of dark chocolate is second to none. It is even more powerful than acai berries, blueberries, or cranberries. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols, which protect the skin from sun damage.
ruits and vegetables are also an essential part of a healthy diet, and I was pleased to find out that pomegranates and avocados are particularly favoured.
However, doing your own research is all well and good, but the greatest benefit comes from talking to the experts. After looking around, I contacted the Bangkok Anti-Aging Center (BAAC).
The BAAC is in central Bangkok, near to Siam Square BTS station. The info you can find online tells you that it specialises in anti-aging and beauty science, with an emphasis on holistic treatment.
I set up an appointment to take advantage of the special promotion that they were then running. It was a comprehensive check-up that would include lab tests on my blood, a whole-body scan, a live on-the-spot blood analysis, a test for bone density, and a personal consultation with a doctor to explain the test results, to give advice, and to suggest any further treatment, should it be needed.
After recording my weight, I had my blood taken for tests on 27 different parameters, including checking for prostate and other cancers. I was then taken for a whole-body scan (all done electronically), and my bone density was tested. After less than an hour all was done, and I was asked to return in a week, when the test results would have come back from the lab.
The following week I returned to the BAAC for my consultation and diagnosis of results with their Medical Director, Dr Erik Fleischman, a physician from California. Licensed since 1988, he has a Fellowship in oncology, over 25 years’ experience of international practice, and has been based in Bangkok since 2003. Before his appointment as Medical Director at BAAC he was International Director of Medicine at Bumrungrad Hospital.
Dr Erik started off with the most important news, telling me that there were no signs of any cancers. My red blood cells were good in number, but were a little undersized, which could be due to an iron deficiency in my diet. White blood cell count was satisfactory.
Dr Erik recommended, from his analysis of the results, that I ate foods rich in vitamin B12 and D3, as well as those containing iron and folic acid, or take supplements, but that I was on the whole a healthy and fit individual. I asked him about exercise, and he recommended that I continue with my cycle riding, but did not need to make any significant changes to my exercise regime. I felt quite happy about these results, and was sure my daughter and girlfriend would feel the same.
Robin; Do you regard the people who come to see you at BAAC as customers or patients?
Dr Erik; I have always thought of the people who come to see me as clients. It’s more personal, the way I was trained in medicine was that my job as a doctor is to work for you. My clients are paying me for my work, and as with any other job, if a customer feels they are not getting what they want then they can fire them. There has to be mutual respect. So I think of the people who come to see me here as my clients.
Robin; Are your treatments at BAAC holistic biased, and if so could you explain this method?
Dr Erik; Yes, they are, and let me clarify what this means. Let’s look at the evolution of the concepts of ‘wellness’, anti-aging, or regenerative medicine. About 15 to 20 years ago wellness clinics became popular, but these were far less scientifically and medically advanced than what you see nowadays, they were a fad, a trend.
In the early days many clinics constructs were akin to handing out snake oil … take vitamin X,Y, Z for this, eat this to do that, etc. Nowadays things are more scientific, and facilities such as ours incorporate the best of proven Western, Eastern, and psychologic medical practices. I’m a cancer specialist, I was trained in oncology, and the drugs I prescribed had a sound scientific base. The drugs we prescribe here for regenerative or anti-aging treatments are no different. Everything we do here has a proven scientific and medical methodology. These are the ways in which we provide a holistic service to our clients, or patients, if you will.
Robin; Intravenous (IV) infusion of vitamins or other supplements is seen as controversial in some quarters, can you explain the benefits of such a regimen.
Dr Erik; There are two physiologic reasons for giving IV infusions. You can give supplements or vitamins at doses that would not be tolerable by mouth. Let’s look at Vitamin C as an example. If you were to ingest 5,000 mg of Vitamin a day you would feel terrible, diarrhea, cramps, etc. But with IV we can deliver 10,000, 20.000 mg per day with no side effects. Some cancer clinics even give doses of 50,000 mg. The second reason is that with an IV infusion you are able to absorb 100 percent of the supplement or vitamin being introduced, whereas when taken by mouth the absorption take up rate varies from between 10 to 60 percent.
I myself take regular infusions of NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or Vitamin B3) which is one of the most fantastic regenerative products yet found. It makes all the cells of your body feel as though they’re functioning at the same level as a 30-year-old. IV infusions are a targeted therapy.
Robin; What treatments do you personally feel have the most benefit and are the most effective?
Dr Erik; I have probably the most experience in Thailand in hormonal balancing and hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for men. After middle age the hormones that keep your body and brain feeling finely tuned start to diminish. This happens at different rates for different people. When the testosterone level starts to dip, it does it very slowly, but if somebody is stressed it will dip more, and people will begin to suffer depression, loss of sex-drive, loss of memory, weight gain, loss of vitality, and more.
HRT has been a mainstay in the West for many years, but only started to be used in Thailand five or six years ago. In Thailand it quickly gained popularity, and is now at almost the same level as it is in the west. HRT can not only extend the life of somebody, but also the quality of that life. The optimum benefits are gained if starting in middle age, but even people in their 60s can gain incredible benefits from the advantages it endows.
Robin; Is blood testing the best way to screen for cancers or other issues?
Dr Erik; Blood tests are one way to screen for cancer. With our blood tests we can discover the presence of prostate, liver, colon, breast, pancreas, lung, gall bladder, and ovarian cancers. Blood tests are a good, least invasive way to test for some of the most common cancers. If someone is worried that they might have cancer further diagnostic testing should be done.
Robin; Is there anything you would like to mention to our readers, before we wind up?
Dr Erik; Sure. Pretty simply, the secret to not getting or feeling old is to prevent it. It’s very hard to turn back the clock, but it’s easy to slow the clock down and prevent it from going forward too fast. We have reached the point now in science when we know the causes and reasons for aging. They’re clear as day.
Here at BAAC we treat our clients as individuals. We interview them extensively, and find out what their goals are. And then we help them to reach them. The World Health Organization now actually classifies aging as a disease. Treat it correctly and you won’t get sick. Start early, boost your body naturally, and you will be healthy for much longer