Our DNA is not our destiny! (1)

We now know that we can affect the expression of an inherited gene—and therefore whether we get a chronic disease, or not—by our lifestyle choices. Even chronic diseases that run in the family or genes that may have been inherited are only a predictor, not a certainty. (2) Lifestyle choices talk to your genes, and the choices you make throughout life can determine whether your disease-carrying genes get turned on or turned off.

Chronic diseases related to aging

By age 65, 80 percent of the population will have one or more of the following chronic diseases of aging (3)(4)(5):

We can encourage healthy lifestyle habits and offer the best supplements, so our patients don’t suffer these conditions and can avoid the drugs to treat them.

This is the third of three blogs excerpted from Dr. Gold’s patient education course ”Live Younger Longer, Improve your Vitality at Every Age”!

Healthy aging at every stage of a woman’s life

A woman’s hormones vary widely depending on what stage of life she is in, requiring different treatment strategies through the decades. Western medicine and Eastern Medicine use different, but parallel expressions to explain the changes that happen to a woman during her life. But it all comes back to trying to create balance, stay healthy, and prevent chronic disease. (6)

woman holding a pregnancy test and smiling at it

East or west — healthy aging is all about creating balance and maintaining healthy life choices.

Reproductive years

In Western medical understanding, the first hormone to be secreted by a young girls ovaries is progesterone, and then about a year later, estrogen. Through her reproductive years, these two hormones are measured in ratio to one another. If estrogen gets too high, or progesterone is too low to balance it, she may experience PMS, irritability, migraines, fibrocystic breasts, fibroids, bad menstrual cramps, or infertility and miscarriages. This is also the pattern that can lead to breast cancer.

Did you know?
In the Chinese Medical model, a woman’s life cycle is broken down into 7-year cycles. The yin and the yang, the two forces that support each other, generate each other and keep each other in check, go through their fluctuations in each 7-year cycle.

The yin is the cooling, nourishing, and moisturizing aspect. It is associated with the moon, with darkness, and all introspective quiet activities. The yang is the heating, drying and energizing aspect. It is associated with the sun, with the daytime, and all the activities that require fast movement and reaching outward in the world. All of the symptoms mentioned above are treated with balancing the yin and the yang, like balancing the Western pair: progesterone and estrogen.

Best supplements during this time of a woman’s life are:

  • A multivitamin/mineral supplement with iron (7)
  • A high quality probiotic
  • If there is too much estrogen, liver detox herbs may be needed, and herbs like chaste tree berry (Agnus-castus) or progesterone cream will be helpful
  • If there is estrogen dominance, nutrients and herbs to detox the liver can be helpful. Nutrients that detox the liver and balance estrogen dominance are DIM, NAC, Alpha lipoic acid, methionine, taurine, and glycine.
  • Herbs and foods that also promote detoxification are milk thistle, broccoli sprouts, and artichoke extract.
  • Adrenal support if there is a lot of stress
  • In Chinese Medicine treatment we use herbal formulas that support the Spleen and the building of blood in the first half of the menstrual cycle, and herbs that decongest the liver after ovulation.

Committing to and maintaining healthy habits, and keeping the hormones in balance at this stage prevent issues later in life.

woman stretching, doing yoga

Restoring the yin and reducing the yang with Chinese herbal formulas in the perimenopause stage keeps a woman much more comfortable as she goes through hormonal fluctuations.

Perimenopause years

At around 35 or a bit later, the progesterone levels start to diminish, again leaving women in this state of estrogen dominance. That’s why often when women begin perimenopause their PMS symptoms get so much worse. (8) Or they start getting migraines, or mood swings. As time goes by, the estrogen levels begin to drop off, and then we see the more classic perimenopause and menopause symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, loss of libido, weight gain, brain fog, and osteoporosis. Night sweats and cortisol swings lead to insomnia. Testosterone and DHEA levels diminish as a woman gets to perimenopause years, which reduces libido.

Between 7×6, or 42 years old, and 7×7 or 49 years old for women, the Yin aspect starts to diminish. Without the cooling moistening Yin, the heat of the Yang starts to rise and dry up the skin, hair, and vaginal tissue. The rising yang causes hot flashes, night sweats, loss of sleep and mental agitation. Restoring the yin and reducing the yang with Chinese herbal formulas in this stage keeps a woman much more comfortable as she goes through these years of great hormonal fluctuations. The herb Maca, from the Andes of South America, helps to provide more stamina and resilience at this time, and also may help with hormonal symptoms. There are many amino acid and herb formulas that contain combinations of GABA, L- theanine, taurine, melatonin, inositol, and 5HTP that help with sleep and reduce anxiety.

One could consider bioidentical hormone (9) replacement therapy if perimenopausal symptoms are severe to the point where they’re interfering with a woman’s ability to do what she needs to. If there is no history of breast cancer in herself or immediate female relatives, a “bi-est” formula of 80 percent estriol and 20 percent estradiol, with 66 mg of natural progesterone added is effective to relieve symptoms. It is good to begin with progesterone cream and herbal formula and see how the woman feels and responds before adding the bi-est. (10)

There are a lot of positive effects of restoring estrogen in the perimenopausal and menopausal woman, including the reduction of:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Best supplements during this time of a woman’s life are:

woman cutting vegetables in kitchen

Healthy lifestyle choices—including eating a diet with plenty of greens, and some healthy fats— can effectively reduce the inflammatory processes during the menopause years.

Menopause years

Once a woman has not had a menses for a year, she is considered postmenopausal. As I mentioned in the introduction, most people by age 65 have one or more of the chronic diseases of aging: (11)

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes or diabesity, as obesity is often connected to diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Osteoporosis

Did you know?
Chronic diseases may look like different diseases, but the underlying condition in all of them is inflammation. (12)

It is our goal as practitioners of natural medicine to encourage and support lifestyle choices that reduce inflammation. If we can effectively reduce the inflammatory processes in our patients, they may avoid these chronic conditions entirely or at least be less symptomatic. With proper lifestyle and nutrients on board, the genes carrying the propensity for these diseases may be turned off.

There are many lifestyle practices that can reduce the incidence of these chronic diseases of aging.

We can encourage our patients to:

Best supplements during this time of a woman’s life are:

  • Multivitamin/mineral supplement without Iron
  • Probiotic
  • Vitamin D – 2,000-5,000 IU
  • Calcium/magnesium supplement, or if any evidence of osteopenia or osteoporosis, a bone-building supplement that has vitamin K2, strontium, biotin, and silica as well as calcium and magnesium

Controlling inflammation

Chronic diseases may look like different diseases, but the underlying condition in all of them is inflammation. (13)(14)

The following supplements help control the disease and aging effects of inflammation:

  • High potency turmeric (curcumin) at least 1200 mg/day
  • Resveratrol – 250mg/day
  • Co Q10 – 100mg/day
  • Fish oils

As practitioners of natural medicine, we are committed to teaching our patients the proper lifestyle and nutrient choices to live with less pain and more vitality, without drugs. You can read about the best women’s supplements by age, here & the most common nutrients in women, here.

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