Mother knows best and we’re finally willing to admit it. In honor of Mother’s Day this year, we’re celebrating women of every age and asking our May Guest Editor, hormone-hacking guru, Dr. Sara Gottfried, to share her best advice for mothers and daughters alike. (Mom + daughter wellness #goals courtesy Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn above.)
Dr. Sara has championed a more holistic approach to hormonal health in a way that we appreciate to no end – especially when it comes to the issues of mood, weight, emotional balance and sleep. Her new book Younger dives into the science behind the hormonal shifts we all experience over time and offers practical health tips for women of all ages. Post to a girlfriends wall or text it to your mama…
in your 20’s + 30’s…
Determine your baseline hormones: Measure your baseline hormones while you’re feeling on top of the world. Ideally, test your estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) on day three of your cycle, and progesterone on day 22. On either day, add a thyroid panel (TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, anti-thyroglobulin antibodies), androgens (DHEA, free and total testosterone), fasting blood sugar and insulin. That way, if you have hormonal problems in the future, you’ll have a starting line for where to return with your hormones.
Run your genetic panel: Opt for genetic testing, made affordable and simple today with resources like 23andme.com, which offers a mail-in, home DNA testing kit that uses a saliva sample. After analysis, the results are posted directly onto a personal online account. I recommend this test because it is an easy, convenient and affordable way to assess a person’s genetic makeup. Other affordable testing resources are Pathway and SmartDNA. Getting your genes tested will allow for a more personalized approach to preventing disease and unnecessary aging, because lifestyle impacts your risk of disease by 90 percent, while genes influence only ten percent of the picture. Knowing more about your genetic makeup will enable you to alter your environment and make smart lifestyle choices to reduce your risks of disease while you still can.
Regularly commit to yoga: Get into the habit of practicing yoga at least twice per week. It will help you wrangle cortisol so it doesn’t rob you of fertility or a long life. Yoga has been shown to raise serotonin — the happy brain chemical responsible for mood, sleep and appetite — and to lower cortisol, the main stress hormone. For women this is especially important, as we have 52 percent less serotonin than men and more cortisol dysregulation. I also believe that yoga is the best form of exercise for relieving stress, unlocking tension, strengthening your core and reducing toxic belly fat.
in your 40’s+
Maintain or grow muscle mass: After forty, you lose muscle mass gradually, at a rate of about five pounds per year. By age fifty, you’ve lost, on average, 15 percent of your lean body mass. This is when aging begins. Be sure to take care of your muscles by adding some HIIT, such as spinning, which has shown to burn fat in overweight women. When coupled with weight training, this type of burst training reduces the risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and Type 2 diabetes, plus improves sleep, reduces depression and bumps up glucose tolerance.
Manage your blood sugar: High blood sugar leads feeling foggy, experiencing stronger cravings for carbs, and accelerating how your skin wrinkles. It’s a major culprit for weight gain and accelerated aging. Unfortunately, you get more insulin resistant as you age, as blood sugar climbs by 10 points per year beginning at age 50. Get your fasting blood sugar measured at least once/year and keep it at 70-85 mg/dL.
Sleep on your side: As you age, sleep becomes way more important, but night sweats and stress can disrupt sleep quality. Your brain’s glymphatic system, which cleanses damaging and toxic molecules associated with neurodegeneration (aka brain decay) works best when you’re sleeping on your side. I use a pillow between my bent legs to pin myself in a side-lying position because I get a better brain shampoo from the glymphatic system and it helps decompress my low back. Sleeping on your right side activates your vagus nerve, which connects nearly every organ of your body. The vagus is the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system. It governs stress resilience. Keep it toned to promote a better mood, digestion and energy.