Solutions to Common Conditions of Aging
By Timothy Morley, D.O., Medical Director of Womens Healthy Hormones
Chronological aging is inevitable. There’s no diet, medicine or therapy that can stop the years from passing, but growing old doesn’t have to mean a decline in your quality of life, or spending your golden years in a hospital bed. Advancements in medicine and a greater understanding of human physiology have led experts to discover that you are very much in control of how well you age, including dealing with conditions of aging, like andropause and menopause.
Menopause in Women
Menopause naturally occurs for most women in their late forties to early fifties, however many women experience premature menopause. This often occurs as a result of a hyster-ectomy, a premature ovarian failure or an underlying hormone imbalance. The medical diagnostic manual defines menopause as, “the point in life when a woman has experienced 12 consecutive months without menses (menstrual cycle.)”
Some women may begin to experience signs and symptoms years before menopause actually occurs. During this time, known as premenopause or perimenopause, hormone levels begin to decline inducing hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain and a host of distressing symptoms that disrupt quality of life. As menopause occurs, estrogen and progesterone levels plummet, leaving women susceptible to not only uncomfortable symptoms, but also increased risk of multiple chronic diseases.
Andropause in Men
Andropause, also referred to as the male menopause, describes the gradual decline of testosterone experienced by men as they age. Many never realize they are experiencing andropause and dismiss the symptoms as a normal part of the aging process.
Testosterone levels typically peak in a man’s mid-to-late twenties and decline every year, reaching the lowest levels around mid-life. As testosterone production declines, levels of other hormones, such as estrogen, begin to increase. These incessant fluctuations
in hormone levels make it increasingly difficult for remaining testosterone to function effectively. The resulting deficiency of testosterone results in many of the same symptoms that women experience during menopause: hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, irritability, fatigue, diminished sex drive, hair loss, insomnia and decreased muscle mass.
Solutions to Menopause and Andropause
The good news is that you don’t have to endure the unpleasant symptoms of andropause and menopause. These conditions of aging can be eased with natural therapies and lifestyle changes. The years may tick by, but how you age is optional.
Many men and women do not realize the impact that hormones have on their health. Hormones play a substantial role in nearly every function of the body — a single imbalance can wreak havoc on your health and impede graceful aging. Hormonal imbalances are a primary cause of menopause and andropause symptoms, but you don’t have to suffer.
It is important to monitor your hormones throughout your lifespan. Talk with your doctor to establish a baseline for your healthy hormone levels, around age 30; or, if you are a bit later in your lifespan, get your hormone levels tested and strive to reach a natural, youthful level through natural, bioidentical hormone therapy. Work with your physician to create a healthy lifestyle plan that includes habits that help to maintain optimal hormone levels, such as routine physical activity, clean eating, managing a healthy weight, getting adequate amounts of quality sleep and keeping stress levels in check.
You can balance your hormones and keep them balanced, naturally, throughout your life with the right functional health strategies.
Nutrition for Balanced Hormones
It’s often said that food can be the slowest form of poison or the most effective medicine. Everything that you eat will impact how you age, including and especially influencing your hormone balance.
Consuming a clean, balanced diet is essential to protecting your vitality. “Clean” eating means choosing foods that are nutrient dense, fresh — not processed — and free from allergens. Clean foods include fresh, organic whole foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein sources, like chicken or fish. It is important to make supplements a part of your Most everyone can benefit from taking a multivitamin, vitamin D and omega-3 supplement daily.
You may also be unaware of your body’s food sensitivities. You may be consuming foods every day that cause you to struggle with healthy weight management, fatigue and premature wrinkling. Cleansing your diet of the top allergenic foods: sugar, dairy, peanuts, gluten, soy, artificial sweeteners and processed items will enable you to stabilize your system, not only for hormone balance, but for reduced risk of disease, more energy and even better management of your mood.
Physical Activity for Maintaining Hormone Balance
Exercise is equally important to maintaining hormone balance. Routine physical activity has been proven to diminish symptoms of aging, contribute to a greater sense of well-being and reduce risk of certain diseases.
As you age, you should shift your focus to incorporating activities that stimulate internal physiological reactions to optimize health, as well as offer benefits of healthy weight management and mood regulation. This may include a broad range of activities — you don’t have to spend hours in a stuffy gym or find a way to learn to love running. Many men and women, especially in middle age, make the mistake of jumping into a new fitness routine too fast.
This can cause unnecessary pain and discomfort that can keep you from enjoying your workouts. Set realistic goals and ease into new fitness programs. Try a variety of activities, such as yoga, Pilates, spinning, hiking or recreational sports — find one or several things that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your lifestyle.
With the right exercises, you can sustain muscle mass, boost bone density, protect your heart, reduce joint pain and maintain hormone balance. Some strength exercises offer increased energy expenditure and a more favorable hormonal response — meaning you will build more muscle, improve strength and burn fat.
Discover a cardio routine too, like swimming, rollerblading or racquetball. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training combined regularly will truly optimize your health for a lifetime.
The Anti-Aging Lifestyle
Anti-aging and optimal health begin with awareness — knowing and monitoring your hormone levels throughout life can impact your health for the rest of your life, for the best. Reaching hormone balance is only one piece of the puzzle, you have to create habits to effectively manage your health, sustain youthfulness and maintain that balance. Try these tips to sail through midlife, including side-stepping the discomforts commonly associated with andropause and menopause:
Eat clean. Processed foods, no matter how convenient, can clog the GI tract and destroy the absorption of nutrients, impairing multiple pathways all over the body. Poor nutrient absorption or conditions, like leaky gut, can lead to hair loss, skin irritation, wrinkling and daily intestinal discomfort. Choose a well-balanced diet consisting of fresh, whole foods.
Supplement, supplement, supplement. Few diets provide adequate amounts of every single vitamin, mineral and antioxidant necessary for optimal health. Even if you consume a “perfect” diet, there are a variety of factors that contribute to the absorption of nutrients. Work with your physician to find high-quality supplements that meet your specific health needs and concerns.
Skip the sugar. Excess sugar — high fructose corn syrup or table sugar — acts as a toxin inside the body. Most people know too much sugar leads to excess pounds and ultimately obesity, but it can also contribute to wrinkles.
Get your beauty sleep. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason — your body needs to repair itself each night, so you look and feel your best. If you aren’t sleeping well, examine activities prior to bedtime — exposure to light, including the light from iPhones, TVs and computer screens can inhibit melatonin production and impair the sleep cycle. Alcohol, tobacco and even physical activity too close to bedtime can limit sleep quality as well.
Hormones decline naturally as part of the aging process, but this decline can occur more dramatically when you fail to care for your body. Poor nutrition and a lack of routine physical activity can contribute to hormonal decline and that decline can lead to the loss of vital functions that impact aging of the skin, hair, nails, heart, brain and every other organ in the body. Choose a lifestyle that will help maintain your vitality and hormone balance. Learn more about conditions of aging and how to achieve and maintain hormone imbalance at Hormone Education.com
Dr. Timothy Morley, D.O., is a Board-Certified General Health Physician in New York City and a leading expert in women’s health. He specializes in nutrition, diet, and weight loss, helping his patients achieve overall lifestyle changes. With one of the largest medical practices in Manhattan, he combines solutions from diet and fitness regimens with nutritional supplements to help women pre-, during, and post-menopause face issues such as weight loss, hormonal imbalances, and healthy aging. Dr Morley is Board Certified in Functional Medicine and Anti-Aging Medicine.