Hormones and Their Role in Metabolism and Aging
What regulates your metabolism and keeps it running efficiently? Your hormones do. What regulates your hormones? Your nutrition and lifestyle habits do.
Hormones are the messengers between the different cells and systems of your body. All of your hormones (there are hundreds and hundreds of them) communicate with each other and relay messages to your cells. Your cells respond to these messages by changing their chemical processes. Certain of your cells actually respond to these initial messages by secreting new hormones, which, in turn, relay additional messages to other parts of your body.
Your hormones regulate the building and using processes of your metabolism. They constantly tell your body whether it needs to be building or using.
To have a healthy metabolism, all of your hormone systems must be intact. They must be able to respond normally to the stimuli of your daily nutrition and lifestyle habits.
The fact is, nutrition – what you eat, how you eat, when you eat, and other lifestyle elements such as sleep, stress, exercise, etc., are what regulate hormone function. To function correctly, to properly do their job as messengers to your cells, your hormones must be given the right signals and conditions.
So, the keys to a balanced metabolism are hormone function, which require proper nutrition and lifestyle habits.
The Connection Between Metabolism and Aging
Metabolism is the sum total of all of your building and using processes. When you build and use at the same, optimal rates, you have a balanced metabolism. When you build more than you use or use more than you build, you are metabolically imbalanced.
Aging is the natural process of gradually becoming metabolically imbalanced, of losing the ability to build as much as you use on a daily basis.
When you lose that ability you break down. Your body can’t perform its daily functions very well, you lose energy and vitality and the ability to fight off disease and to heal. Your hormone systems become further compromised, accelerating the aging process. You become more susceptible to the degenerative diseases of aging.
Not a pretty picture!
So, the objective is to keep from accelerating your natural aging process. Most human beings today have a potential life expectancy of close to 120 years. By potential life expectancy I mean the genetic and physiologic potential to live to 120 years of age if, they do not accelerate their aging process.
What accelerates the natural aging process? Metabolic imbalance.
What causes metabolic imbalance? Any hormone system imbalance.
To be clear, metabolic imbalance is caused by any hormone imbalance – either too much or not enough of any hormone. Such a hormone excess or deficiency can be a temporary condition due to poor nutrition or lifestyle habits, or can be caused by a systemic problem with the gland that produces the hormone. For example, a gland can overproduce a hormone because of a disease or benign tumor. Or, the gland can under produce hormone(s), as in the case of menopause. If the hormone deficiency is due to poor nutrition and lifestyle habits, it can be remedied by changing the habits that are causing it. In the case of a systemic problem, the hormone excess or deficiency can only be remedied by addressing the systemic problem. In the case of menopause, a systemic problem, the only remedy is to adequately supplement the missing hormone(s) and ensure proper nutrition and lifestyle habits. Otherwise, over time:
- The hormone imbalance will cause metabolic imbalance,
- The metabolic imbalance accelerates the aging process, inevitably resulting in a damaged metabolism, and
- The damaged metabolism further accelerates the aging process and, ultimately, leads to the onset of one or more of the degenerative diseases of aging.
Keep in mind that you can restore an out of balance metabolism much more certainly, easily, and quickly than you can repair a damaged metabolism.
The Key To Keeping Your Hormones and Metabolism Balanced
What keeps your hormones in balance? In large measure, it is your daily nutrition and lifestyle habits. Eating well, getting enough sleep, managing stress, minimizing the ingestion of and exposure to toxic chemicals, and exercising properly are all vitally important for keeping your hormones in balance.
So many people compromise their hormone systems without being aware they are doing so by eating and sleeping poorly, living over-stressed lives, including over-exercising, and by ingesting toxins such as alcohol, sugar, nicotine and caffeine.
This fact is what motivated me to write three books on this topic. The latest book, The Schwarzbein Principle — The Program, contains my most up-to-date clinical findings and recommendations. In The Program, I discuss in detail the five-step Schwarzbein Principle Program (SPP):
Step 1: Healthy nutrition including taking supplements, if needed
Step 2: Sleep and stress management
Step 3: Tapering off or avoiding toxic chemicals
Step 4: Appropriate exercise
Step 5: Hormone Balancing Therapy (HBTx), if needed
Hormone Balancing Therapy (HBTx), while listed as Step 5, is actually a critical first step for anyone with a compromised hormone system, because healthy habits can only maintain healthy hormone systems. Once a hormone system is significantly compromised or damaged by aging (as in the case of menopause), surgery, or disease, improving your nutrition and lifestyle habits alone cannot restore hormone balance. Only HBTx combined with healthy habits can restore a significantly compromised or damaged hormone system to keep your metabolism healthy.
SPP is essentially a natural aging program. Its objective is to help you stay metabolically balanced – to build and use optimally and avoid accelerating the natural aging process.
Remember, aging is your body’s inability to regenerate itself fast enough to recover from the normal wear and tear of everyday life. To keep from accelerating the aging process, to continue to build and use optimally, you have to keep all of your hormone systems intact.
Because menopause is the permanent loss of your sex hormones, once it begins, your body’s hormone systems are no longer intact – unless you correctly restore the absent estradiol and progesterone with bioidentical hormones. Otherwise, menopause accelerates aging.
Most women come into menopause with some degree of metabolic imbalance. The absence of the sex hormones amplifies this imbalance. Gradually, within a few years of entering menopause, most women encounter various symptoms and medical conditions that, though they may not realize it, are evidence of the worsening metabolic imbalance. See: Blame It On Menopause.
To stay fit, feel well, and keep from accelerating your natural aging process, you have to protect your metabolic health by proper attention to your nutrition and lifestyle habits and addressing the hormone system imbalance caused by menopause.
A Final Note
I know it’s easy to discount the importance of the first four steps of SPP, after all, it’s so basic and commonsensical, right? There’s no breakthrough thinking, no magic elixir or silver bullet — just the basics. Which is exactly why it’s so critical that you don’t overlook the importance of nutrition and lifestyle habits. They are fundamental, foundational, core, essential… I don’t know how else to better emphasize this point. So read my books and the other articles on this website and Get With the Program!
To your health and happiness,
Diana Schwarzbein, MD