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Speaking at our Women’s Day event hosted on Saturday at Southern Sun, Hyde Park,  anti-aging specialist Dr Riaz Motara shared how you can live a longer, healthier life. Dr. Riaz Motara MBBCh (Wits), FCP(SA) is a Physician/Cardiologist based in Johannesburg where he runs The Heart Wellness Centre and VeinSculpt and practices at Melrose Arch and Milpark Hospital.

Dr Motara tackled anti- aging medicine as a growing ideology in the country and explains how essential it is in assuring longevity and a healthy fulfilling life.

He started  off by explaining what anti- aging medicine is as defined below:

  1. It is preventative medicine
  2. It improves health span
  3. It is integrative medicine

With traditional medicine we can treat the outcomes of aging. With anti-aging medicine we can change the process of aging in the first place. Dr Motara believes we should be focussing more on our health span curve and ensuring the quality of life rather than simply prolonging morbidity.

Health Span Curve

Health Span Curve

He continued to explain how to apply the theory of wellness :

Acute inflammation keeps us alive and chronic inflammation kills us slowly.

    • Goal: Decrease inflammation and increase wellness
    • Diet: Eat healthy and in moderation – do not be swayed by the popular “diets” of today that are not backed by science and research.
    • Exercise: Moderate activity on a daily basis is necessary.
    • Stress: Try to reduce and manage your daily stress.

Chronic Inflammation is the cause and the effect of illness and the diseases of aging. We need a unified approach to wellness which focusses on anti-inflammation to ensure wellness.

Dr Motara says the first step is to get away from the idea of thinking we can cure everything by just taking pills.

He further explains that the genes we inherit from our parents should not be an excuse and we cannot blame everything that goes wrong in our lives on our genes. While genetics are a part of of our overall health, we are all unique individuals, and genes react to our environment, the foods we eat, the lifestyles we live, etc. The basis of our health lies within our emotional wellbeing.

“In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of inherited changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. The theory suggests that non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently. Robin Holliday defined epigenetics as “the study of the mechanisms of temporal and spatial control of gene activity during the development of complex organisms. This new biology leaves in the dust the defeatism of genetic and parental programming as well as survival of the fittest Darwinism. In fact it was Darwin who wrote in his later life in 1876 to Moritz Wagner.”

“In my opinion, the greatest error which I have committed has been not allowing sufficient weight to the direct action of the environments, ie food, climate, etc, independently of natural selection.”

“Millions of people everyday attribute their failing health not to a combination of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual causes, but simply to the inadequacies of their body’s biochemical ,echanics. Are your kids unruly? Increasingly the first choice is to medicate these children to correct their ‘chemical imbalances’ raher than fully grappling with what is going on in their minds bodies and spirits.

Of course there’s no doubt that some diseases, like Huntingtons chorea, beta thalasemia and cystic fibrosis can be blamed entirely on one faulty gene. But single-gene disorders affect less than 2 % of the population; the vast majority of people come into this world with genes that should enable them to live a happy healthy life. The diseases that are todays scourges – diabetes. Heart disease, and cancer – short circuit a happy healthy life. These diseases however are not the result of a single gene, but of complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors.

Thus todays medical model should not just look at organ dysfunction, it should take into consideration the factors such as diet, environment, toxins, emotions and infections.

I would also like to suggest that the onus is on the individual to recognize and adjust these factors in their lives, the medical practioner is simply the facilitator in this process. Remember, you are not your body. You are the creator of your body”

Motara urges that in additional to leading a healthier life in terms of diet and exercise, we should practice stress reduction methods such as yoga, meditation to keep and maintain a stress-free emotionally well life.

Focus on well being and quality of life, eliminate the use and reliance of anti-depressants, increase resistence to infectsions and ensure efficient recovery from injuries. Importantly, we must seek contentment and deep inner peace.

Dr Riaz Motara

Dr Riaz Motara

The most important thing  we can do, says Motara, is to enjoy every part of our aging journey.

During the question and answer session from the floor, Longevity guests asked Dr Motora many questions.

We’ve chosen to share this one: If there was one supplement a woman should take to support her health and longevity, what should it be?

Dr Motora said that everyone should ensure sufficient intake of Omega 3.

Here are just a few important reasons why:

Omega 3 essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA, EPA) are not made in the body, you need to get them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial, specifically EPA and DHA are found mostly in certain fish. ALA, another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also they deliver some significant health benefits.

– Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease.
– Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
– Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression.
– Some research suggests that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to aging.
– Omega 3 fatty acids improve the cardiovascular risk profile of subjects with metabolic syndrome, including markers of inflammation and auto-immunity.





Siyanda Nkala

Siyanda is a qualified journalist currently holding a position of Digital Media Coordinator for Longevity magazine. During her last year of study she worked as the online sub- editor for the school's online blog and that's where her passion for Online journalism emerged.

She is currently writing health and fitness articles for Longevitylive, does the weekly newsletter and writes a few snippet pages for the magazine. She hopes to gain vast experience in the field of online journalism.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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