Aging is one of those issues that women often think about, but don’t like to talk about. You might even lie about your age, subtracting a year or two to make people think you are younger. However, if you are willing to take the plunge and learn more about the aging process, you may be surprised to find that there is a lot you can do to maintain your health as more birthdays fly by. In particular, taking an integrative medicine approach to aging can facilitate a much healthier and more fulfilling aging process. That way, even as you get older, you can remain strong in both your mind and your body.
Understanding the Difference Between Chronological and Biological Age
The concept of chronological age is a relatively simple one: it refers to the number of years that you have lived. The concept of biological age is a little more complex. Biological age refers to the degree to which your body has aged at the cellular level, and there are multiple factors that play a role:
- Bone density. Bone density, sometimes known as bone mineral density, is a quantitative measure of the strength of your bones. As women age and estrogen levels drop, bone density decreases because bone resorption — that is, the rate at which bone cells break down bone tissue to release calcium into the blood — exceeds the rate of new bone formation. This can lead to the development of osteopenia and (eventually) osteoporosis, both of which can put you at a high risk for bone fractures.
- Skin health. For aging women, the two primary measures of skin health are thickness and elasticity. As you might predict, skin thickness refers to the number of layers of healthy skin cells you have. In contrast, skin elasticity describes your skin’s ability to return to normal after being stretched, and it depends on the protein composition and hydration level of the skin. The natural drop in estrogen as you get older can have a negative effect on skin thickness and elasticity.
- Flexibility. Flexibility describes your range of motion. Of course, you can’t expect to be quite as spry in your sixties as you were in your thirties, but regular exercise, gentle yoga, massages, and chiropractic adjustments can help you maximize your flexibility level.
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR). Basal metabolic rate is formally defined as the minimal energy expenditure per unit time needed for your body to function at rest in a neutrally temperate environment. Put more simply, it’s the number of calories you burn when you aren’t doing anything else to expend energy. As you get older, your BMR drops. That’s one reason why your weight-loss diet at age 20 might actually cause you to gain weight at age 70.
By taking steps to improve your health in each of these areas, you can make sure that your biological age is the lowest it can possibly be with respect to your chronological age.
An Integrative Medicine Approach to Aligning Biological Age and Chronological Age
From an integrative medicine perspective, there are a variety of things you can do to align your biological age with your chronological age. Some of the most simple steps you can take are making healthy dietary choices and committing to a regular exercise routine, but many older women are now turning to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Bioidentical hormones are synthetic hormones that mimic the hormones that are naturally produced by your body. During menopause, they can help balance your hormone levels. In doing so, they can positively influence all four of the factors that play into biological age. That way, it can remain as closely aligned as possible with your chronological age.
Scientific Support for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Some women shy away from traditional hormone therapy, but recent scientific evidence suggests that bioidentical hormones are safer and more effective than standard options. For example, in 2011, a researcher at Florida Hospital reviewed a decade’s worth of scientific papers (71 in total), all of which were randomized clinical trials examining the safety and efficacy of traditional hormone therapy and/or bioidentical hormone therapy. Based on the evidence from these papers, the researcher was able to draw the conclusion that “bioidentical hormones that are approved by the FDA may be preferred over standard hormone replacement because of their physiologic benefits and safety profile.”
Similarly, in 2014, researchers from the Mayo Clinic reviewed relevant papers on bioidentical hormone therapy, but they focused specifically on the potential risks and benefits for menopausal women. They also included observational studies in their report, alongside more formal clinical trial studies. Again, the authors found that bioidentical hormone therapy can be a safe and effective choice for many women during menopause.
If you are concerned about the alignment of your chronological and bioidentical age, Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers a wide range of relevant services, ranging from nutritional support to massage therapy to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Contact us today for more information!