HEALTH TIPS FOR 40+
There is no stopping the ageing process, but moving into your 40s onwards does not mean that we can’t live a healthy and active life.
What it means, though, is that you may have to make a few lifestyle changes in order to continue to do the things you enjoy. If you are not doing so already, then once you hit 40, it is really time to take control of your health.
I feel fantastic in my 40s, I look and feel great and have more confidence than ever before. But it’s important to take our health seriously so we can continue to feel amazing and be active at 50, 60 onwards.
This blog is going to look at some common problems that can occur after 40 and what you can do to stay fit and healthy. Although I mostly work with women, some of these tips are valid for men also.
What happens to your body after 40?
• Your metabolism will slow down.
• Body fat and cortisol levels increase.
• There is an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
• Digestive enzymes decrease which can cause digestive issues like:
acid reflux and bloating.
• Hair thins and becomes brittle.
• Your bone density diminishes.
• For women, perimenopause and menopause begins.
• There is a loss of muscle mass.
•For men, prostate problems.
Let’s look at women’s hormones
The average age for menopause is 51, perimenopause will start a few years before, usually during your forties. This can be a big change in a woman’s life and there are many symptoms. For a smooth transition, it’s important that you prepare your body.
If you are living a lifestyle like you did in your 20s or 30s, with late nights, regular alcohol consumption, or smoking and recreational drugs and eating too much sugar and processed foods, then you can find that your symptoms are a lot worse. Your lifestyle will catch up on you.
You can check if you are perimenopausal by having regular blood checks to make sure your hormones are balanced. During the perimenopausal period hormones will be all over the place and you will notice changes to your periods, moods and energy levels.
The information in this blog will help lessen symptoms and there are many women who work specifically with women going through the menopause, if you need further support in this area then get in touch.
Hormones in our bodies
Hormones play a vital role in the functions of all our bodies. The most important ones are oestrogen, cortisol, testosterone, insulin, ghrelin, leptin and the thyroid hormones. These hormones are all linked to fertility, mood and metabolism.
Hormonal imbalances can cause many health issues, such as diabetes or infertility. Hormones affect your mood, weight, energy, appetite and more. It is important to eat the foods which balance, support and optimize their functions. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fibre and healthy fats.
Check your thyroid
Your thyroid controls energy levels and regulates hormones. Thyroid problems usually occur from 40+. Problems occur when you have an underactive or overactive thyroid.
There are many factors which contribute to this including stress, lifestyle and autoimmune disease. With an underactive thyroid, you will tend to feel constantly tired, experience weight gain, constipation and depression.
If you have an overactive thyroid, then symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, sleep problems, and persistent tiredness.
Symptoms can develop over time so if you are concerned then talk to your GP, a blood test will confirm the issue.
Loss of muscle mass
Once we hit 40, we lose muscle mass, so it becomes important to have a good quality protein with every meal. Excellent sources include lean organic meats, tofu, beans, lentils and chickpeas and good quality protein powders.
Vision problems occur
This is different for everyone but it’s common that you find you cannot read the fine print on labels and may have to get reading glasses. This may occur sooner if you are someone who sits at a screen all day.
There are several eye exercises you can do to help and wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes from sun damage.
Foods good for vision include blueberries; orange fruit and vegetables containing vitamin A like sweet potatoes, carrots and apricots; green leafy vegetables; and foods rich in vitamin C like kiwis, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges and lemons.
Health checks for both men and women
If you have a family history of cancer, then it’s a good idea to get regular check-ups. For example, if you have breast cancer in the family then have a regular mammogram.
It’s also good to regularly check your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body weight. You can also take a calcium test to see if your arteries are hardening.
For men, it’s really important to check your PSA (prostate marker) regularly.
Also, check for mineral and vitamin deficiencies and take a good multivitamin for your age and gender.
As we hit 40, our metabolism will slow down. Fat around the middle increases and with that, the chances of diabetes, heart disease and vascular disease.
Do weight-bearing exercises along with cardiovascular exercise. If we maintain our muscle mass and strength, we can continue to do all the activities we enjoy.
As we age we also become less flexible so keep up the yoga and pilates. Not only will this keep you supple, it really helps with your posture.
We usually associate heart attacks with men, but women are at risk as well, so cardiovascular health is important for both men and women.
Once through menopause, a woman is at increased risk from heart attacks or strokes. To avoid this include more omega 3 healthy fats into your diet. Foods like cayenne pepper, garlic, turmeric, onions, wild salmon, all help with a healthy circulation.
Look after your liver
The liver is the major organ of detoxification. A healthy liver will give you a faster metabolism and help regulate hormones efficiently.
Hormonal imbalances like too much oestrogen can cause uterine fibroids, and hormonal cancers like breast and ovarian.
A healthy liver can also mean an easier menopause!
For a healthy liver, aim to drink 2 litres of water a day.
And add the following into your diet: rocket, endive, chicory, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, ginger, artichoke, watercress, brussel sprouts, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, celeriac, and asparagus.
Beetroots are fantastic for the liver, in fact, probably the best. Have more vegetable smoothies and soups. Lecithin granules sprinkled over smoothies, salads and cereal help to digest fats.
Helping your digestion
Digestive problems can occur and we may find we cannot tolerate certain foods. You may experience acid reflux and bloating. Go easy on your digestive system – aim to make your diet 40-50% raw. This is easier to begin in the summer when the hot weather means we eat more salads. Always choose to bake or steam your foods as this means it maintains its nutrition.
Avoid large meals that put a strain on your digestive system. Eat smaller meals and ensure half of your plate is always full of vegetables or salad. You may find cutting out wheat and processed foods and sugars helps.
Foods which help to balance hormones
Indole – 3 – carbinol is a compound occurring naturally in cruciferous vegetables. It is effective in regulating and excreting excess levels of oestrogen and is anti-tumour. Vegetables containing this compound are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collard greens and kale.
Eat fibre to keep blood sugar levels in check and have regular bowel movements.
Eat the rainbow on your plate. This means to include a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables each week. Your gut will love you for it!
Include magnesium-rich foods. You can find magnesium in pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds which are also rich in healthy fats. Magnesium has so many benefits and it’s also known as nature’s tranquilizer. It calms the body, keeping cortisol levels low and can help with sleep.
Healthy fats are needed for healthy hormones, so include avocados, flaxseeds, chia seeds, salmon, mackerel and sardines into your diet.
Foods to avoid that disrupt hormones
It’s time to drop or cut down on refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, fried foods, caffeine and alcohol, as they will cause hormonal imbalances in our bodies, put a strain on our livers and digestive systems.
If you must, consume them in moderation.
When I work with clients I say to start by introducing good habits rather than dropping the bad ones. That way, as you start to feel better and have more energy you will naturally want to cut out the bad stuff.
I hope you have found this blog post useful. If you would like to have a chat about how I can help you lose weight, improve energy levels and stay fit, healthy and beautiful into your 40s, 50s onwards then please get in touch.