Hormones and Ageing
This blog started from a question about hormones and ageing, but unfortunately, this is an incredibly complex area that needs to be dealt with on an individual level. Sorry team.
If you are concerned, here’s what I’d do: speak to your GP, schedule some tests, and if you think there’s something serious going on, get a referral to an endocrinologist. Once you’ve done that, you can have a look at the various nutritional and lifestyle strategies you can implement that can help support your specific situation. Please don’t just go blindly follow some hormone fixing pill/powder/juice/supplement cleanse because that’s definitely NOT how that works.
Ok so even though I totally sidestepped that question (maybe I’ve been inspired by the upcoming election), I am actually going to be useful today by going through a few things we can do to help make the ageing process as kind as possible. And seeing as every one of us is ageing as we speak, that’s pretty important.
The Ageing Metabolism
Here’s the good news: your metabolism actually doesn’t slow down ANYWHERE near as much as you think it does when you age. It slows down by around 1% a year after the age of 20 which, at least for the first few decades, is pretty negligible.
So why is this good news? It means that the major factor influencing weight gain as we age is not our metabolism (which we mostly can’t control), but our NEAT levels (which we totally can control).
NEAT is neat
NEAT stands for non-exercise activated thermogenesis. Basically, any movement we do that isn’t formal exercise. Things like fidgeting, walking, standing, blinking, cleaning the house and playing with the dog all burn energy, and all help increase our levels of NEAT. Chances are, things like working longer hours, transitioning into a more sedentary job, spending more time in the car commuting/transporting small humans around and participating in less outdoor activities all lead to us becoming less active, which means less NEAT, which means we burn fewer calories.
So, step one (see what I did there): hit 10 000 steps, every day. Doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Go for a walk in the morning, go for a walk after dinner. Spend half your lunch break eating and the other walking. Take your next phone call while walking around the block. Park further away from the shops. Take the stairs. And if 10,000 steps seem crazy, do 1,000 more steps a day this week than you did last week. Then next week, do it again.
That 1% each year that our metabolism slows down is most closely linked to our total amount of lean muscle mass. Basically, as we age, we lose muscle. It sucks, and it’s somewhat unavoidable. But we absolutely can slow down that rate of loss by performing some resistance training sessions a few times a week. Resistance training with heavy weights (preferably under a professional’s watchful eye) is a fantastic tool to help promote muscle gain/maintenance, increase bone density, reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve sleep and reduce instances of depression. That’s a pretty good shopping list in my opinion.
Next week, I’ll go through some nutrition habits we should be focusing on to help with healthy ageing. Pair these with the activity recommendations above, and we can all be our best Helen Mirren/George Clooney