When we think about hormones and aging, many of us focus on estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and the changes that occur as we move into middle age. However, these are just three of many hormones metabolized by our bodies; hormones which also change as we age. Hormones are natural chemicals produced in one location, released into the bloodstream, and used by other target organs and systems. In fact, aging is comprised of a whole variety of “symptoms”, functional signs and body composition changes that occur over time. Let’s review a few of them to determine what happens to our metabolism
We’re all looking for ways to optimize our health, keeping us happy and moving. What we don’t want, however, is a fatty liver. Keeping our livers healthy and functioning properly is paramount, as this powerhouse organ, our body’s second-largest organ, is one that works 24 hours a day.
Our livers are responsible for over 500 biological functions such as detoxification, energy storage and creation, and processing nutrients, processes all we put into our body, helps fight infections, cleanses our blood, and converts carbohydrates, proteins and fats into the energy we need on a daily basis.
Speaking of fats, there are ways the liver can become fatty, through an excess of fat in the liver’s cells. The most common cause of a fatty liver is obesity, according to the Canadian Liver Foundation, where they estimate more than 50% of Canadians are overweight, with an estimated 75% of obese individuals at risk of developing a fatty liver.
Our livers metabolize everything that goes into our bodies, and there are many ways in which we can keep livers healthy and thriving. The best way to thwart fatty livers is from our diet and making lifestyle changes – getting some activity and exercise in our lives (at least 30 minutes a few days a week) maintaining a healthy weight and if necessary, medications.
The traditional western diet is high in meat and dairy and refined grain products, making our livers work that much harder, and plays a part when our livers become fatty and unhealthy.
While we do need the right amounts of “healthy fats” in our diets, we also need to be cognizant of steering clear of saturated and trans fats, fried foods, excess amounts of sugar and drinking too much alcohol. Overloading our livers can force them to work extremely hard, and increases the potential for a fatty liver.
Foods such as avocados, dark chocolate, nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, and virgin olive oil are good sources of healthy fats to incorporate into your diet, while also receiving other nutritional benefits.
It’s also important to have a strong and diverse representation of fibre in your diet. As we age, a common phrase people will say to one another is “fibre is your friend,” and they’re right. It is a key source in helping eliminate waste and toxins, helping sweep the colon. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.
Insoluble fibre helps promote regularity and a healthy digestive system, while soluble fibre helps in lowering blood cholesterol levels as well as controlling our blood sugar levels.
A diet rich and high in fibre will keep you feeling full for longer, an ally against overeating. When increasing your fibre intake, drink plenty of liquids – tea, water – to help fibre work better and aid in the digestion process.
From whole grains (quinoa – though technically a seed, rice) to vegetables (Brussels sprouts, sweet potato) to fruits (pears, berries, dates) and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), there are many healthy and delicious ways to increase our fibre intake, and we should aim for 30-35 grams per day.
A question you may ask yourself when researching all the foods high in fibre and ones that promote a healthy liver is “Do I need to take a supplement?” Consulting with your physician about any questions, comments or concerns you may have will be helpful. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, assessing one’s purpose for supplements, as well as their particular form, dose and length of intake are critical and important aspects to research when considering supplementation and investing in health products.