The Hormones of Aging

Yoga is a proven example of exercise to help combat aging and enhance brain health, but there are many other reasons that exercise is linked to better health and youth.

Young kids are often seen moving with boundless energy, probably because their mitochondria are working nice and efficiently!

It’s not just the energy that changes however; aging changes many different processes within the body. Exercise actually affects more than just our waistlines it affects our hormones as well.

Hormones are part of the Endocrine system and are needed to both prevent and also promote aging. Hormones are basically aging’s double agents since they are responsible for both the good and the bad.

HGH & Exercise

Exercise for example is a prime example of when hormones can be good. Exercise produces human growth hormone. It’s considered among the best anti-aging practices for this reason. Exercise triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, a process that declines with age.

Effectively by exercising you’re stopping mitochondrial aging in its tracks by boosting your mitochondrial mass. A review in 2011 noted that exercise caused changes in the enzyme content of mitochondria that increased energy production and resulted in a lower risk of chronic diseases.

We’ve already seen that mitochondria are important for energy production but they’re also linked to digestive health and other aging issues. Free radicals and cell oxidation often damage mitochondria, but by speeding up the process that renews these organelles you can effectively sidestep the potential damage from free radical exposure.

Several studies have come to similar conclusions as well as those that show mitochondrial biogenesis that is induced from exercise improves brain function and can repair brain damage.

The problem here is that many people combine excessive aerobic exercise with a poor diet so that they don’t gain weight. This actually adds stress to the body and can damage the mitochondria so remember that exercise is only half the battle.

What you want is something called a Peak Fitness level which is achieved through interval training. Peak fitness has been shown to improve production of human growth hormone by as much as 771% during a workout.

After age 30 or so our own production of HGH declines rapidly so it’s especially important as you age to boost and maintain your level of HGH. The longer your body produces a significant amount of the hormone on its own the longer you’ll be able to experience the health and strength of youth.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is best for producing the highest levels of HGH naturally, and you only need to do them a couple of times a week to get the best HGH production.

Menopause

We’ve already looked at the effects aging can have on the digestive system but did you know the endocrine system is doubly affected? This is more pronounced in the case of the female menopause.

Women are more affected by aging because we are more heavily affected by hormones. From a biological and evolutionary standpoint we all exist simply to reproduce and our entire cellular and endocrine system is wired to that fact.

Once nature deems we women are “too old” to be reproductively useful out bodies essentially turn on us. Our hormones become chaotic, stress rockets and energy levels fluctuate.

Normally women experience menopause in their late forties and fifties but it can be much earlier than this. As women we will literally wake up one day and our bodies decide we’re “passed it”.

As with the telomere effect, our bodies’ ability to reproduce becomes damaged over time and once it decides it’s no longer viable, cells begin to die off or regenerate more slowly. It’s rather morbid, I know, but that’s biology.

For decades hormone therapy has been used to stave off and prevent menopause in women. Studies on human growth hormone have shown its anti-aging properties but many of the hormones our body produces in a sexual capacity have also been linked to anti-aging.

DHEA, Testosterone, Estrogen, and Melatonin have all been linked with anti-aging therapies. As far back as 1981 DHEA was marketed as an anti-aging drug when it was published in a book by the Academy of Sciences in NY .

Testosterone and estrogen are both “sex hormones” and both decline with age regardless of sex. Declining testosterone is responsible for losing muscle mass and poorer bone density while a decline in estrogen can cause memory issues, decreased mental function, and sexual function that eventually leads to menopause.

There is a huge market for supplements in this field because they are also linked to increased athletic performance, especially in the case of testosterone. There are a variety of different foods you can eat that will boost hormone production and improve your hormone balance as you age:

1.Pine Pollen

Commonly used by bodybuilders, pine pollen is a natural supplement that actually contains 80 nanograms of testosterone per gram. This is a lot; it’s almost like having testosterone therapy. Best taken as a tincture, you can also buy it in powder and capsule form.

Your body recognizes this as a normal hormone of its own making. Soy intake contains many of the same benefits for women, but with estrogen.

2.Coconut & Avocado Oil

Essential fats are part of the chemical makeup of hormones so it’s indispensable to have a diet that is rich in them. They also happen to boost your metabolism.

3.Omega 3’s

Vegetable oil is something many of us cook with, but did you know that it’s actually one of the worst things for your omega levels? Refined oils like canola, safflower, and vegetable oil are all high in Omega-6 oils.

This pushes the balance away from Omega3’s and can cause inflammation and chronic disease. Omega-3’s are found in fish, shellfish and in some nuts and seeds. Flax seed and walnuts are both high in Omega-3’s.

4.Fermented Foods

Most fermented foods help improve your gut flora. It’s said that 80% of your immune system lies in your gut. By increasing your intake of fermented foods you can banish a variety of digestive issues (important when you consider the saying ‘you are what you eat’).

Fermented foods are also linked to preventing inflammation, eliminating toxins and increasing mitochondrial efficiency.

5.Goji Berries

Goji berries are probably the best anti-aging food out there. It’s an adaptogen so it normalizes hormones and reduces stress. It increases stamina, strength and sexual energy.

The magic thing about it though is that it is the only known food to increase HGH. It’s a complete protein with lots of beneficial minerals and it betters vision. A cool fact – the area where goji berries are native to in China contains the highest concentration of people over 100 in the world!

In addition to this you should also consider limiting your exposure to hormone disruptors. These are found in chemical kitchen/bathroom products, medications, and even some of the clothes we wear.

Triclosan, for example, is a common additive to antibacterial soap and some places are beginning to ban its use since it has been shown to be no more effective than regular soap and is a known hormone disruptor.

You can also consider supplementing your diet with adaptogenic herbs as these have been known to promote hormone balance. Ashwagandha and holy basil are the most common.

Collagen

Collagen is a protein in your skin which gives it its form. It actually makes up ¾ of your skin’s volume; skin is made predominantly from water followed by collagen. In fact, collagen is found practically everywhere in the body where there’s protein – even the bones. As with most cells in the body collagen is continually regenerating itself.

It breaks and then replenishes itself just like most other skin cells. Depending on your lifestyle and nutrition the collagen will replenish at different rates, this means that it can be healthy or not.

Collagen that replenishes itself at a fast rate means the skin stays looking young, while collagen cells that fail to be replaced as soon as they deteriorate lead to a faster aging process.

From the time you become 30 your skin’s production of collagen will begin to slow each year. The body makes 2% less collagen for every year that follows. Wrinkles are basically where the collagen has broken down and failed to repair at ideal levels.

To make sure skin is renewed as healthily and with as much collagen as possible, nutrition is vital. In fact many face creams marketed to help with aging skin are stuffed with collagen to boost that in the skin.

Here are some food suggestions detailed with their active collagen enhancing elements. These boost collagen from the inside out allowing your deepest seventh skin layer to have as much of it as possible while you can still add to it directly through creams on the outer layer.

Many of these foods are the same as those discussed to boost your body’s natural hormone levels.

1 – Anything with a lot of vitamin C is essential for your skin’s production of collagen. Green vegetables such as asparagus, kale, and broccoli also contain an antioxidant called Lutein. Pomegranates, oranges, and most citrus fruits also have high levels of vitamin C!

2 – Omega-3 acids stimulate collagen production – so include salmon and nuts into your diet.

3. Red and orange plant based food – fruits and vegetables which have carotene in, responsible for the red pigmentation, are known to boost collagen production. Think tomatoes, red peppers, beetroots and carrots.

4. Beans – they contain useful hyaluronic acid. Broad beans are an example. However, beans are also known as an anti-nutrient as they can block some of the other nutrients in your diet; they should be eaten sparingly.

5. Soy – has Genistein which not only helps make collagen it stops enzymes which destroy collagen. Tofu and soy milk are both common examples however you can also get many similar beans in the frozen section. Steamed edamame pods are delicious and you can always throw a handful of mukimame beans into any dish.

6. Turkey – contains a protein called Carnosine which prevents the stiffening of collagen bonds. Eating turkey may not actively make collagen but it may protect it and will also stop your skin from scarring through incorrectly bonded collagen.

7. White tea and green tea also promote collagen production. Lavender essential oils have also been shown to have some effect on collagen too. Collagenase is the enzyme which breaks collagen down and it has anti collagenase properties.

This list is not exhaustive but if you replace many of your unhealthier foods in your shopping budget with these you will notice cleaner, less lined skin.

Now that you’re producing collagen in a healthy way from the inside, investing in a high quality collagen cream or moisturiser is a good supplement. Just remember that it is just that – a supplement. It’s important to boost your body’s own production first.

It will still decline but it’s better that it declines at a slower rate because of a high level already produced by your own body. Collagen creams can be expensive, but price doesn’t always reflect performance. How do you know you haven’t bought a dud before it’s too late?

To start with there are 28 different types of collagen, but you’ll only need to know about type I, II, and III. Type I is the most abundant in the body and it the matrix protein that we see in the skin. Studies at Kyoto University showed that skin properties were improved by direct ingestion of type I collagen.

Type II collagen is responsible for your joins and its loss is usually associated with the pain of arthritis. Type III collagen is the second most abundant and is what makes skin “plump”.

For example babies and children have a lot of type III collagen in their skin which over time gets replaced by type I collagen which is much tougher and less firm. Look for an ingestible supplement that is high in type I and III for this reason.

For skin supplements you’ll want to find one that has hydrolyzed collagen. The reason for this is that collagen molecules are too big to be directly absorbed and will never reach into the actual skin layers in their full size.

The process of hydrolysis breaks the molecule into a more manageable size where it can actually make its way to the dermis. The measurement for this is molecular weight; normal collagen has a weight around 50,000 Daltons or more, while a good collagen supplement will only be around 3,000 to 8,000 Daltons.

This means that you’ll have better bioavailability so your skin gets better results. You’ll need a supplement which has at least 7,000mg to 13,000mg per serving for it to be effective.

CoQ10

Asides from collagen the body also contains a compound called CoQ10. CoQ10 is something that we are born with in limited amounts and cannot actually be synthesized by the body’s own cells. As we age the amount of CoQ10 in our bodies depletes and studies have shown that it plays a role in many of our body’s systems including the digestive and vascular.

There are many studies that support CoQ10 supplementation to fight aging, including several that theorize it could add as much as 9 years to your life expectancy. CoQ10 is part of the process that allows mitochondria to create energy, as it becomes scare the mitochondria perform less efficiently and we age at a faster rate.

However, studies have shown that supplementation with CoQ10 boosts the production significantly enough that the aging process slows down and many bodily functions become better regulated once more.

CoQ10 has also been linked to a slowing of oxidative damage, reduction in the proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease, improvement in the neurons linked to Parkinson’s disease, improvement in heart rate, improvement in lung function, and good CoQ10 levels have also been linked to improved blood sugar control.

Many of the drugs that we commonly see as part of the aging process have been known to damage CoQ10 levels, even if you don’t realize your levels are dropping your lifestyle might actually be forcing them even lower! Statins, for example, lower blood lipids but one of the biggest side effects if that it reduces levels of CoQ10 significantly.

When choosing a CoQ10 supplement you’ll have a distinct difference to see between types as well as secondary supplements that come as a package deal. The first thing you’ll see is a difference between Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol.

Ubiquinone is more difficult for your body to process while Ubiquinol is actually almost identical to the CoQ10 found naturally in your body and is already in a useable form. For added bonus find a supplement that also contains DHLA, it works in tandem with the CoQ10 for better absorption and also has strong antioxidant properties of its own.

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