Although many adults think extra weight comes with age, it’s a myth that getting older means that you’ll gain weight, feel less energetic or be less active! Here’s why:
Many adults notice that they are starting to slow down around age 40, due to gradual changes in metabolism and hormones. These changes are slow, leaving ample time to adjust. Even the loss of muscle is only about 1% per year when people become less active. These gradual changes result in a slow decrease in our ability to burn calories, so more calories can be stored as fat.
The Real Cause: Lack of Adjustment
If we made small adjustments as we go, we could effectively manage these gradual metabolic changes. In other words, it’s possible to maintain a healthy weight and optimum health as we age. But many people do not make the right choices or adjustments, resulting in increasing weight and decreasing energy. Too many people with weight issues choose the wrong foods and drinks, along with an inactive lifestyle, choices that are the real basis for declining health!
The proliferation of convenience and fast foods is one a key factor. Grocery aisles are packed with processed snack foods, refined-flour breads and sugared beverages. Corn or potato chips, pretzels, flavored crackers, snack cakes, cookies, candy, and sodas are all part of this problem. These refined-carbohydrate foods metabolize quickly, causing blood sugar to spike. We release insulin to lower the blood sugar. Weight goes up and energy goes down.
Like a roller coaster, these processed foods (including other white foods, such as white potatoes, rice, soft pasta) cause energy to spike and drop all day! What’s worse, the salty, sugary, fatty-carb products (they are hardly foods) create cravings for more, and the downward cycle continues.
Recently, more health experts (including Dr. Oz) have acknowledged that these refined-carb foods are addictive. When processed foods cause blood sugar to spike, they increase serotonin, a “feel good” neurotransmitter. We release insulin to bring that spike down and it’s a feeling of withdrawal as we feel the drop in energy. Other brain chemicals like dopamine, a pleasure/reward brain chemical, may also play a role in craving for these salty/fatty snacks and carbs. And unfortunately, we often turn to these unhealthy products when stressed, even as these foods cause additional stress and imbalances in the brain and hormonal systems!
Therefore, the key to the challenges of weight gain, energy loss and health is adjusting to the changes in metabolism and muscle mass as we get older. This can apply to younger people as well!
A Culture of Myth?
To not understand these problems and their easy solutions is to believe in myths. But what if it was part of our culture that these simple adjustments were understood? What if, as we age, we made the small, easy changes to maintain our health and vitality? Our lives and health could improve immensely!
And what if we saw our parents, friends or family choosing more nutritionally balanced foods (nuts, whole fruits, lean proteins, fish, veggies, etc.) that help to maintain stable blood sugar, along with more consistent activity and fitness? They would remain more trim and fit with age, with better energy and vitality! They would look younger then their years.
And think of this: If our culture was more proactive, we could prevent the suffering and premature deaths of millions, keeping families together longer (diabetes alone can take 5-10 years off life expectancy and millions have it!).
There are also some helpful supplements (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omega-3 fats, libido and hormone replacements, etc.), that can support energy, health and vitality as we age, and they make sensible additions to a health and longevity program.
Imagine putting all the elements together and remaining active and playful into your 70s and 80s! It is within each of us to live that way. If you’re alive, it’s never too late!
The future you desire is in your hands!
Some helpful links:
© 2011 by S. Carney/Quick Start Your Health