We’re all familiar with the concept of our bodies changing with age. Although it can be challenging to embrace, these changes can impact many aspects of our daily lives. Women over 40 face their own specific set of challenges. Changes in hormones, metabolism and increasing inflammation associated with age can create a need for new approaches to nutrition and a change in your supplement routine.
After forty, the body begins to undergo certain changes related to aging. One of the most drastic changes within the body is the slow down of metabolism. Our metabolism is a complex system that is operated by hormones within the body. These hormones help to regulate things like blood sugar, sex hormones and the rate at which we burn calories.
As metabolism slows, women may begin to notice weight gain. Changes in sex hormones associated with perimenopause and menopasue can cause hotfashes, changes in sleep patterns and also contribute to an increase in weight. Women may begin to experience increases in blood sugar, higher cholesterol and changes in bone density. Although none of these changes sounds very appealing, they are all a natural part of aging. As we can see, shifts in metabolism and hormones can alter both our bodies and state of mind. Luckily, humans are adaptable and there are numerous solutions to the hormonal flux of aging. With the right adjustments to diet and exercise and the help of some supportive supplements, we can create more hormonal balance, while decreasing some of the obvious signs of aging.
If you’re looking for answers to balance hormonal shifts then diet is a great place to start. As metabolism slows down, you may need to adjust your diet appropriately in order to maintain weight, even if you have an extremely healthy diet. After 40, the body does not burn calories as efficiently, so some women will need to be more conscious around the amount of calories they are consuming per day.
The type of calories you eat is also important. Sugar, alcohol and processed carbohydrates can all lead to an increase in blood sugar within the body. Ongoing high blood sugar levels are one of the primary contributors to inflammation, the basis of chronic disease. Women over 40 should examine their dietary patterns and if there is excess consumption of these foods, they may benefit from reducing them to prevent both inflammation and weight gain.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality fats all have a cardio protective effect on the body. Anyone interested in reducing inflammation should make sure that their diet includes an abundant amount of these types of foods, while consuming sugar, processed carbs and alcohol in moderation.
Women over 40 may also need to adjust their supplement protocols to help balance hormones and reduce inflammation. As we age our nutrients needs can change. Decreases in estrogen can impact bone density. If you do not have enough sources of calcium in your diet, you may want to start supplementing. It’s important when supplementing with calcium that is balanced with other nutrients that support bone health such as magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D.
The body can only absorb calcium and get it into the bone with the help of vitamin D. Without the right amount of vitamin D, calcium supplements can actually build up in the body, including the arteries, which can lead to plaque formation. Plaque formation in the arteries is one of the primary contributors to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US.
Vitamin D can be created in the body via sun exposure, but depending upon where you live, you may not be able to get adequate vitamin D from the sun in the late fall, winter and early spring. Vitamin D is unfortunatley not abundant in our modern diets. Food sources include fatty fish, organ meats, fortified milk and mushrooms. If you’re not eating enough of these foods, or are not in the sun during the right times, you may benefit from supplementing with vitamin D. Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone health, it plays a critical role in immunity, lessening risks of cold and flu1. It has also been shown in research to decrease the risk of heart disease and regulates mood to ward off depression2. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with several diseases including multiple sclerosis3 and breast cancer4. Clearly, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is essential for many aspects of health.
If you’re concerned about inflammation, achy muscles and joints, then look no further than the wonder herb, turmeric. You may be familiar with the common culinary herb found in curry. It is also mother nature’s primary anti-inflammatory. The active ingredient in turmeric is curumin and it has been shown to have comparable efficacy profiles to NSAIDS5 in terms of reducing inflammation. It also has demonstrated pain relieving effects6 and has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety7.
Adding the herb turmeric to your food or drinking turmeric in tea form is one great way to benefit from its anti inflammatory properties. For those with more extreme levels of inflammation, use of a curcumin supplement may promote even further anti inflammatory benefits.
Magnesium is another critical supplement to consider for women over 40. This mineral is a real powerhouse in the body, involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. It works in concert with the mineral calcium to help us achieve stronger bones. Magnesium also relaxes both the muscular structure of the body and the central nervous system.
Have you ever taken a bath in epsom salts when your muscles were sore? Well epsom salts are magnesium. Taken internally magnesium helps to relax sore muscles and can be an amazing natural treatment for muscle spasms. It’s effects on the central nervous system are also noteworthy. It has a natural calming effect, which can help to ease anxiety while also promoting better sleep. Magnesium is also a key supplement for anyone wanting to prevent cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to decrease blood pressure, can decrease risk of arrhythmia and demonstrates anticoagulant properties8.
Magnesium is abundant in fresh vegetables, grains and nuts. Unfortunately due to commercial farming practices, magnesium is not as available in our food as it once was. Supplementation with magnesium may be a supportive tool for those who cannot get enough from diet alone.
Aging, inflammation and hormonal shifts may not be the best part of aging. Fortunately we have abundant natural options to aid us. With a focus on a whole foods diet and the addition of the right supplements for your body type, you may be able to decrease some of the common signs of aging and create a better pathway to longevity.
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094. Epub 2010 Mar 10. PubMed PMID: 20219962.
- Wang, T. J., Pencina, M. J., Booth, S. L., Jacques, P. F., Ingelsson, E., Lanier, K., Benjamin, E. J., D’Agostino, R. B., Wolf, M., & Vasan, R. S. (2008). Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 117(4), 503–511. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.706127
- Jorde, R., Sneve, M., Figenschau, Y., Svartberg, J. and Waterloo, K. (2008), Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial. Journal of Internal Medicine, 264: 599-609. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x
- Munger KL, Levin LI, Hollis BW, Howard NS, Ascherio A. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. JAMA. 2006;296(23):2832–2838. doi:10.1001/jama.296.23.283
- Atoum, M., & Alzoughool, F. (2017). Vitamin D and Breast Cancer: Latest Evidence and Future Steps. Breast cancer : basic and clinical research, 11, 1178223417749816. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178223417749816
- Bannuru RR, Osani MC, Al-Eid F, Wang. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. C/ Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatil Volume 48, Issue 3, December 2018, Pages 416-42
- Sun J, Chen F, Braun C, Zhou YQ, Rittner H, Tian YK, Cai XY, Ye DW. Role of curcumin in the management of pathological pain. Phytomedicine. 2018 Sep 15;48:129-140. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2018.04.045. Epub 2018 Apr 17
- Ng QX, Koh SSH, Chan HW, Ho CYX. Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Medical Director Association 2017 Jun 1;18(6):503-508. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.12.071. Epub 2017 Feb 22
- Mildred S. Seelig. INTERRELATIONSHIP OF MAGNESIUM AND ESTROGEN IN CARDIOVASCULAR AND BONE DISORDERS, ECLAMPSIA, AND PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME. In Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 12, NO. 4, 442-458 (1993)