Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Science Behind Hormones & Aging

Imagine finding an elixir that would allow you to have more energy, turn fat into muscle, sleep better, improve your sex life, and feel healthier.

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, we know there isn’t a magic potion or a quick fix for turning back the clock to the youthful vigor of our 20s. But we do know that using scientific evidence-based medicine that combines diet, exercise and proper hormone balancing can help people achieve their goals, getting them to their desired body weight, shape, fitness and energy level.

Hormone Optimization is The Key

Conventional wisdom says that declining hormone levels are a normal function of aging and just something we must face as part of life. But maintaining a healthy hormonal balance at every decade of life is critical to aging gracefully, whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond.

Our body’s hormones have a powerful and pervasive influence on just about every function taking place within our bodies. Produced by the endocrine system glands, hormones are the chemical messengers that circulate in the blood, looking for the right target receptors with which to interact and communicate. Nearly every aspect of our mental, physical, emotional, social and sexual capabilities is affected by how well these receptors to respond to the hormonal messages.

Why Is Hormone Balancing Necessary?

Making sure that the hormones are in the right balance offers so many benefits that it just doesn’t make sense not to make it a priority for everyone. In fact, some experts say aging is a disruption of the body’s ability to produce and maintain the appropriate hormone levels for optimal health and well-being.

When the body is in its prime, all of the hormones – estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, thyroid and cortisol – work together to orchestrate the various biological and chemical processes, from cell growth and repair to the menstrual cycle in women. How much or how little of each hormone is made at any one time relies on a complicated feedback system between the brain and the various endocrine glands.

But a decline in these hormone levels upsets the delicate balance that is necessary to keep the body in best shape. It can also set the stage for a variety of problems starting with sexual performance and leading to a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.

For most women, the dramatic drop of estrogen and progesterone at menopause has a major impact on their enjoyment of life and their overall health. Men undergo hormonal changes in a much more subtle and gradual process called andropause, which signals a decline in the androgen hormones, specifically testosterone. But they too experience serious consequences from a reduction in hormones.

In older men, testosterone can convert to estrogen in a complex process called aromatization, which leads to further imbalance. Higher estrogen levels in men may contribute to greater risk for problems with the prostate, including enlarged prostate gland.

For women, hormonal imbalances may not just be a matter of low estrogen. It might actually be related to estrogen dominance, which occurs when the proper ratio of estrogen to progesterone is altered. This imbalance may result from diet, pollutants in the water and other chemicals in the environment. In addition, estrogen dominance can be aggravated when high levels of cortisol, which occur when the body is under chronic stress, further reduces the amount of progesterone circulating in the blood.

It’s important to understand that replacing hormones with a one-size-fits-all prescription is not an effective or desirable plan. A careful fine-tuning is required to ensure the right hormonal balance is achieved for your particular situation.

Is Hormone Balancing Safe?

In 2007, the original 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that raised concerns about hormone replacement therapy was shown to have serious flaws. The study only looked at women taking Premarin, an artificial synthetic hormone, not the bioidentical hormones we use at Southwest Age Intervention Institute that closely mirror the body’s own natural hormones. Nearly half the study participants were smokers or had a history of smoking. Some 34 percent were clinically obese. In addition, the average age of the women participating in the study was 63, while most women begin treatment for perimenopausal and menopausal systems in their 40s and 50s.

In 2008, the First Global Summit on Menopause-Related Issues in Zurich, Switzerland concluded that hormone replacement therapy is the first line and most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. The summit also reported that replacing or supplementing hormones offers numerous preventative measures, including:

Protection against estrogen-related bone loss and fractures
Improved quality of life and sexuality by maintaining the health of the urogenital tract in women
Reduced potential for cognitive impairment, including possible decreased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Reduced mortality and risk of cardiovascular disease

What You Can Expect During An Executive Health Physical

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, we offer a comprehensive executive health physical for both men and women. The exam will include an extensive laboratory workup, history and physical.  At this time, we will evaluate the following biological markers:

  • Blood pressure
  • Lipid panel, including HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
  • Insulin and blood sugar levels
  • Thyroid and cortisol levels
  • Hormones levels – testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and DHEA
  • Fitness, strength, flexibility and balance
  • Bone mineral density
  • PSA (prostate specific antigen, a marker for risk of prostate cancer in men)

The results of your executive health profile will give the physician a baseline of your hormonal and metabolic health. From there, an individual plan will be designed that includes diet, exercise and hormone balancing.

Supplementing or replacing hormones lost due to the aging process can turn your health around in numerous ways, from strengthening your immune system and improving your mental and emotional outlook, to enhancing your sex life and building stronger muscles and bones.

We have so much more to share with you. Our goal is to help you age well, enjoying all the days of your life feeling great all the way! Call us today at Southwest Age Intervention Institute to schedule your executive health evaluation with one of our age management specialists. Let us help turn the rest of your life into the best of your life.

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