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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

What Is Aging?

by Dr. Fred Harvey, MD 


We all have a mental image of what we consider aging to be, but I prefer a simple definition: gradual loss of function over time. Chronic illness is the major cause of aging. Illness causes oxidative stress, inflammation, hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, infections, allergies and disruption of the microbiome. Factors that produce chronic illness such as environmental toxins also cause aging, as does psychological stress. 

When we talk about aging, we need to address both the lifespan and the health span. Lifespan is the amount of time a person is alive, while health span is the amount of time a person is alive in a vibrant state of health. This leads us to differentiate between biological age and chronological age. Often, we see that chronic illness has accelerated the aging process such that the actual biological age is older than the expected chronological age.  

Consider that 80% of Americans over 65 have at least one chronic illness, and many have several. In America, the 65-plus age group has 58% hypertension, 47% high cholesterol, 31% arthritis, 29% coronary heart disease and 27% diabetes. 

There are markers that we can use to evaluate the biologic age such as telomere length, which is the length of the protective end cap on DNA. Other markers include insulin resistance associated with diabetes, sperm count reduction, bone loss, altered hormone balance and withdrawal, and genomic instability. 

Functional medicine addresses the issue of biologic agent. Functional Medicine is age management medicine. We look for dysfunction before a disease develops to avoid a progressive disease and preserve aging. I have patients whose biological age is younger than their chronological age because they are invested in their health and apply functional medicine proactive planning and intervention to create vibrant health and optimal function. 

It is never too late to plan for and improve health. At the Harvey Center for Integrative, my team is prepared and eager to transform patient health. A functional medicine consultation is the ideal place to begin.  

In our initial consultation, we dive deep into the patient’s prior history and review medical records related to the current health issues. We obtain valuable new information through examination and testing to decide the best course of action in promoting individualized optimal health. Health coaching can assist in implementing necessary lifestyle changes and nutritional programs, the foundation of vibrant health.  


Location: 3982 Bee Ridge Rd., Suite J, Sarasota For more information, call The Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine at 941-929-9355 or email [email protected] 



November 2021 Digital Edition




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