Aging and Metabolism
You may have noticed that your clothes feel a little tighter, even though your diet hasn’t changed, or that food affects you differently than it did even a couple years ago. It’s probably not your imagination: “As we age, our cells become more vulnerable, so it is important to focus on stimulating the metabolism, controlling stress, safeguarding our immunity and preventing muscle atrophy,” noted Physician Assistant Allie Nowak.
Metabolism slows as we age because of hormone imbalances (too much stress, too little sleep and elevated insulin can all contribute to less-than-optimal metabolism) as well as something called sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and increased percentage of fat stored in the body.
If you have noticed a shift in your metabolism or overall energy, you can fight back with some simple measures:
- Fuel your body with whole, fresh and nutrient-dense foods. Keep a food journal for a week or two to determine what types and quantity of food you are consuming and consider swapping out processed snacks (crackers or chips) for fresher options, such as apple slices with almond butter, for example.
- Eat plenty of quality protein, such as organic fish, chicken and grass-fed beef, butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Vegetables should comprise the bulk of most meals. When you stick to protein, copious vegetables and serving of healthy fat, meals can help ward off insulin spikes and weight gain while curbing hunger.
- Maintain or increase activity level to support muscle mass; your exercise routine should include strength training, which promotes increased metabolic rate and surges in growth hormone. Resistance or weight training should be performed at least twice a week. You can consult with your doctor or a personal trainer if you need more information or suggestions on activity level and potential options for resistance training.
- Rest! Aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night to support critical cell repair and regeneration.
- Think young – our thoughts influence our actions. Positive outcome thinking, where you visualize what you want rather than focusing on what could go wrong or what has happened in the past, can help you set a trajectory for better future outcomes.
“Even if you do all of this perfectly, an excess of stress can quickly derail the best efforts and lead to premature aging,” Nowak added. “Find something every day that helps you de-stress a little, whether it is a quiet cup of tea, a walk outside, a yoga class, your favorite music, or time with your favorite pet or person!”