In the previous article, we explained the types and roles of hormones. In this follow-up, we will discuss hormones’ effects on the body as we age, and effective methods for longevity.
How ageing impacts hormones
1. Estrogen and Ageing: More Than Just a Female Hormone
Estrogen, often considered the leading lady among female sex hormones, orchestrates many health aspects, including bone density, skin elasticity, and cardiovascular well-being . However, as women approach menopause, estrogen takes its leave, causing levels to decline and setting the stage for age-related concerns such as osteoporosis, skin thinning, and an increased risk of heart disease .
But that’s not all; estrogen’s influence extends into cognitive function and mood regulation. Studies reveal that this versatile hormone plays a pivotal role in maintaining mental acuity and emotional balance, with declining levels linked to cognitive decline and mood disorders .
DHEA experiences a natural decline as we age, with the most dramatic drop occurring around the age of 30 . This decrease is connected to various age-related concerns, including cognitive decline, immune system dysfunction, and diminished muscle mass and bone density .
Higher DHEA levels are tied to better cognitive performance, while lower levels correlate with cognitive decline and a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease .
Furthermore, DHEA’s role in maintaining a robust immune system is achieved by regulating immune cell production and modulating inflammation. Age-related declines in DHEA levels may contribute to increased vulnerability to infections and chronic inflammatory diseases .
DHEA’s ability to help maintain muscle mass and bone density is due to its promotion of sex hormone production, which is essential for sustaining these tissues. [4,5].
3. IGF-1, GH, and Ageing: Balancing Growth and Longevity
GH and IGF-1 are essential for maintaining muscle mass and bone density throughout our lives. As we age, however, the decline of these hormones can lead to sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density), putting older adults at a higher risk for frailty and fractures .
Interestingly, IGF-1 also boasts neuroprotective qualities, promoting brain health and cognitive function. Lower IGF-1 levels have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s .
The dynamic duo of GH and IGF-1 doesn’t stop there – both hormones play critical roles in regulating metabolism. Age-related changes in their levels can contribute to metabolic shifts, such as insulin resistance and increased body fat, which are common as we age 
Strategies for Healthy Ageing: Supporting Hormonal Health and Well-being
Ageing is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to support our hormonal health and optimise our ageing. By balancing medical interventions and thoughtful lifestyle choices, we can promote hormonal balance and enhance our overall well-being as we journey through the years.
1. Hormone Replacement Therapies
As we age, hormone replacement therapies can relieve individuals grappling with hormonal imbalances. Women may find solace in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can ease menopausal symptoms and lower the risk of osteoporosis . Meanwhile, men may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to address symptoms associated with low testosterone levels .
However, it’s essential to have a thorough discussion with a healthcare professional before pursuing these treatments, as they may carry potential risks and side effects that need to be considered. For instance, short-term therapies that lead to excessively high testosterone levels in men are often linked to a weakened immune system and a heightened risk of high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.
2. Lifestyle Choices for Hormonal Health
Adopting healthier lifestyle habits can make a significant difference in both hormonal balance and overall health. Consider focusing on these key areas:
- Regular Exercise: Committing to consistent physical activity helps maintain muscle mass, and bone density, and elevates mood. Engage in both aerobic and resistance training exercises to promote hormonal health and counteract age-related declines . Exercise stimulates GH (growth hormone), amplifying the positive effects of exercise. This highlights the significance of regular exercise to keep this beneficial cycle active as we age. For both men and women, the exercise-induced increase in testosterone can lead to improved muscle mass, greater bone density, enhanced mood, and better cognitive function.[4,5]
- Balanced Diet: A nutrient-rich diet, complete with ample protein, vitamins, and minerals, supports hormone production and overall well-being. Optimise hormone balance and promote healthy ageing by incorporating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your daily meals . Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein primarily produced by the liver. It helps regulate sex hormone levels by reducing their bioavailability, thus preventing them from reaching excessive levels. Consuming sugar-rich meals causes insulin spikes, which can lower SHBG levels. In women, this can lead to excess estrogen, resulting in symptoms such as mood disturbances, intensified menstrual cramps, acne, sore breasts, and PMS. A study on men’s SHBG levels showed that those with more cardiovascular risk factors tended to have lower SHBG levels.
- Stress Management: Make time for relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help regulate cortisol levels, the primary hormone responsible for stress response . While cortisol can reduce testosterone levels, it is also linked to an imbalanced insulin response. This can negatively impact the sex hormones in both men and women.
- Adequate Sleep: Prioritise 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night for optimal hormone regulation and overall health. Restorative sleep supports numerous physiological processes, including tissue repair and cognitive function .
Ageing is an art, and hormones play a starring role. As we embrace the passing years, understanding the impact of hormones like GH, IGF-1, and sex hormones on our health empowers us to take charge of our well-being and longevity journey.
The endocrine system is deeply affected by environmental and lifestyle factors. With ekei.glytra, you can understand how your surroundings and habits impact your chronic inflammation and biological age, specifically through the lens of IgG glycans.
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