If you think a title called hormones and preparing for menopause 20 years from now sounds a little crazy, you're probably not alone. But our hormones pretty much control everything from mood to appetite, temperature to weight - so I care a lot about the damage control, and what I can do today to be healthier tomorrow. Hot flashes, cold sweats, increased belly fat and insomnia. What if they didn't have to happen? Well, I don't believe they're requisite or a rite of passage in moving on to a later chapter in our life. Our hormones certainly shift throughout our lives, but if we take care of these little chemical messengers that tell our body which end is up, our lives would be a hell of a lot healthier...and happier.
Progesterone is a sex hormone that preps the uterus for pregnancy. Around the age of 35, a woman's progesterone levels begin to decline. It could be argued that every woman is in perimenopause from 35 on. I guess that puts me in the perimenopause group. I've never been much for planning, but if I have a feeling that 20 years from now I will not regret one bit the steps I'm taking today to make my life better down the road.
The damage we do to our hormones today, if not cared for, can (and probably will) have an effect on our livelihood years down the road. We can't just erase our physiological mishaps in a split second, so I'm erring on the side of caution. Here are four steps I plant to take to feel good not just today, but much further down the road as well.
Twenty years from now I will have:
1) Significantly cut back on coffee consumption
While I like a good cup of coffee every now and then, regular coffee consumption can wear on the body. Don't get me wrong - modest caffeine consumption in the form of green tea, for instance, is actually healthy. Just one cup of coffee, however, gives the body a boost of cortisol (read: stress hormone) by 30%. Unfortunately, the buzz from caffeine wears off the more we consume it. Everyday coffee drinkers are actually more desensitized to the "thrill" of caffeine, but still elevating cortisol much higher than needed.
2) Kept a close eye on inflammation
A bruise - no problem. A paper cut - taken care of. But an achy knee that just won't quit, or a recurrent sinus infection that seems to show no signs of clearing up...now that's something I'll take notice of. As we get older, our body isn't as "springy" as it was in high school, but that's no reason we should settle for chronic inflammation, arguably one of the worst things that affect our health. inflammation affects a few different hormones, including insulin (read: fat storage hormone), cortisol (read: stress hormone) and eicosanoids (read: chronic disease protagonists if produced in excess). Get your arms around inflammation. Do it now. You won't regret it in two decades. How? Here are a few common foods to avoid.
3) Slept close to (if not more) than eight hours a night
Sleep is the new sex, right? Well, probably to any woman who has one or more young children at home. Sleep earns your health a lot of miles. On the flip side, a lack of sleep puts you into sleep debt. To get your body back on track, it's important to try to make up for lost hours of sleep. We are human and meant to follow a circadian rhythm. When we don't, and we continue to abuse the habit of burning the candle on both ends with six or fewer hours of sleep a night (eight is optimal), you can absolutely expect to have a lion's share of problems down the road, ranging from chronic health conditions to unwanted belly fat. It is possible to sleep your way to a leaner body. My advice: start today.
4) Eaten copious amount of healthy fat
When I get older, I don't necessarily want to look older! Healthy fats now play a critical role in not just your health, but how you look, years down the road. As counter-intuitive as this may sound, a diet too low in fat is not only unhealthy, but can also make you look older than your years. Eaten daily and in moderation, healthy fats found in dairy products, nuts, fish and meat maintains healthy skin tone, shiny hair and keeps our appetite in check. What’s more, fat in the diet makes the absorption of the vital vitamins, A, D, K and E possible. If you’re not already doing it, try adding a small amount of fat in the form of olive oil, a healthy cheese, avocado, ground flax seed or even coconut oil to your favorite meal or as part of a snack.
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