Your body as a woman goes through a vast number of changes as you begin puberty and eventually reach menopause in your middle age. If you are living, you are aging, and while we can never stop or reverse the process through magic creams or potions, there are many cosmetic procedures that make women (and men) look younger. But looking younger is not synonymous with feeling younger, or even being younger!
Yes, you read it correctly. There is such a thing as “being younger”. Recent advances in technology allow us to measure telomeres, and determine a biological age of our DNA. Many women, if they are engaged in healthy lifestyle, will be younger than their chronological age. My own recent measurement was reassuring, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my DNA age at 6 years less than my chronological age. Women can dramatically improve their DNA age, and their biological age by following a personalized nutritional and exercise plan, and avoiding xenoestrogens, artificial chemicals mimicking estrogens but producing deleterious effects. Emerging body of evidence also supports a careful use of biocompatible (bio-identical) hormones as women enter peri-menopause and menopause. As estrogen levels decline, there is more fat gathering in the body, and a sedentary or inactive lifestyle can speed up this process. Losing estrogen adversely impacts women’s vascular health, and is linked to higher chances of Alzheimer’s dementia. It also accelerates muscle mass loss, although it can be stabilized or reversed through a healthy routine of diet and exercise. I highly advise that women do their own research, and explore if hormone replacement is a clinically indicated and safe option. Several books that I often recommend to patients include “Slim, Sane, and Sexy”, “The Hormone Reset Diet”, and the “Etsrogen Window”.
What can you do to feel young and vital at any age if you are a woman?
Here are my 10 steps for women wellness:
- Combat aging by getting the right amount of protein along with an everyday routine of healthy diet and exercise. A high-protein diet can reduce the amount of fat cells in your body, and help you to avoid unhealthy foods that will put those pounds on quickly. Focus on building muscle more than on weight loss: get your body composition assessed, and aim to increase your muscle mass over the course of 12 to 24 weeks.
- Include plenty of fiber, and healthy fats from coconut and avocado, as well as extra virgin olive oil, flax seed, chia seed, and evening primrose oils. Limit fruits except for berries.\ Eat a variety of vegetables, and consider fermented foods.
- Chew your greens: it helps to release dietary based nitrates that function to reduce blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. You will not get this effect from drinking green smoothies but if you are a fan, pretend that you are chewing on them!
- Exercise regularly, including resistance exercise and cardio, in a 2: 1 ratio, as it can help build your muscles and keep your mind and heart healthy. To maximize your workouts, consider high-intensity interval training.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep! Many women report some type of sleep disruption. Consider supplementing with melatonin, L-theanine, and 5 hydroxytryptophan if sleeping disturbance is an issue. A saliva test for cortisol secretion can be very helpful in evaluating your hormonal patterns, and determine how those influence your sleep and energy levels. Aim to get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Rhodiola and Aswaganda may be helpful if cortisol levels are off. They are considered adaptogenic herbs.
- De-stress: learn to meditate, and do it for at least 5 minutes per day.
- Do not go to bed angry. Make amends, forgive, and restore your inner balance to close the day on a positive note.
- Learn your own genetic make-up. If you are a carrier of certain genetic polymorphisms (called SNPs), such as those in the ApoE or MTHFR genes, those may increase your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and result in accelerated aging. While we have no drugs to address this, lifestyle measures that curb inflammation will have a positive effect.
- Your hormones are your BFF, not your frenemy! Follow your blood and saliva levels, and find a trusted practitioner who will help you on those issues.
- Do not leave home without your foundational supplements: omega-3 (high quality, certified by IFOS), B vitamins (check if you need activated forms), vitamin D (at least 5,000 U per day of you live north), magnesium, selenium, potassium (in a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral formula or just eat a handful of Brazil nuts), Coq10 (100 mg or more), resveratrol, curcumin, and EGCG (an active ingredient from green tea).
These strategies are just a few of the things you can do to slow down the aging process as a woman. Diet and exercise are important for people of all ages, but when getting up there in years, it becomes even more important to help combat disease and fat gain. We all want to stay young, physically and mentally, and remain vital. Your wellness is in your hands. Create a structured plan, and go for it!