Are you ageing from the inside out?

London: The UK think-tank, the Office of Health Economics recently reported that the life expectancy gap between men and women is shrinking. Women can now expect to live just four-and-a-half years longer than men – the smallest difference for almost thirty years. So a female born in 2002 has an expected life expectancy of 80.7 years, while a boy born the same year has a life expectancy of 76.2 years.

The report concludes that the reason for the slowing in life expectancy is that women are adopting the same lifestyles as men – smoking, binge-drinking and suffering the stresses of full-time jobs.

The fact is that very few people die a natural death. Most of the illnesses from which we suffer and die are far from natural – obesity, diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes. More often than not, they are the result of our lifestyles, and caused by smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, taking too little exercise, over-eating, poor nutrition and stress. These degenerative diseases, it is estimated, account for 90% of all medical treatment needed in old age.

Nevertheless, as a result of medical intervention and improved nutrition, there has been a huge spurt in longevity in the 20th century. An extra 20 years has been added to the average lifespan, bringing the average global life expectancy to 66 years. Life expectancy in Ancient Rome was 22 and in the Middle Ages 35. Today many people live to more than 115 years.

Despite the fast-pace of medical discoveries, such as cure-alls like stem cells there is nothing we can do to change our chronological age and death is evitable at some stage. What we can do, though, is take measures to change our biological age, to give ourselves a better quality of life so that we can be more active and healthier for longer. A fit body and an agile mind make it easier to cope in today’s demanding workplace.

The first step in preventing degenerative disease is to obtain a comprehensive snapshot of your current state of health. This can be done with an annual blood screening test. Regular blood testing is the single most important tool available to prevent degenerative disease through early detection.

Blood screening assesses the status of numerous systems in the body, monitoring for cardiovascular risk factors, blood sugar levels, liver and kidney function, immune system wellness, and optimal hormone balance. Regular testing also monitors mineral balance and red blood cells size and number.

Unfortunately this kind of preventative blood testing is not routinely offered by the NHS, but it is the key to any serious anti-ageing or preventative programme. It can determine your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, liver conditions, anaemia and diabetes and prevent other conditions associated with hormone imbalances, such as fatigue, obesity, osteoporosis and depression.

Dr John Moran who runs a medical practice in London’s Wimpole Street says: “Most of my patients come to me because they are not satisfied with their GP. I undertake a detailed investigation of the patient’s current health which begins with a series of blood tests, which are different for men and woman and also age. The next level is to replace what is missing and to retest to ensure that everything is happening as it should.”