Boost an Over 40 Me­tab­o­lism

Five strate­gies from a vi­sion­ary nu­tri­tion ex­pert to jump­start your sys­tem.


Af­ter I turned 40, it felt like my me­tab­o­lism and en­ergy slowed a lot, and I de­vel­oped more di­ges­tive is­sues, food al­ler­gies, and pso­ri­a­sis. The pounds started to creep on, even though I was eat­ing the ex­act same food. Now that I’m closer to 50, I’ve de­vel­oped a belly bulge or “menopot.” Plus, key heart- dis­ease risk fac­tors, such as blood pres­sure and blood sugar lev­els, are go­ing in un­healthy di­rec­tions. I tried the Pa­leo diet and then the ke­to­genic diet, and nei­ther one worked for me. Is it just nor­mal to have all th­ese dif­fer­ent health is­sues de­velop and worsen as we age? — Karen M., Cape May, N. J.

a:The short an­swer is no. The health is­sues you de­scribe are typ­i­cally seen in peo­ple over 40, but they don’t have to be. Over time, many peo­ple de­velop a toxic me­tab­o­lism, and when this oc­curs, wide- rang­ing health is­sues can de­velop and worsen. Even benefi cial di­ets might not work if your me­tab­o­lism has turned toxic. Trail­blaz­ing nutri­tion­ist Ann Louise Git­tle­man, PhD, CNS, ob­served that this phe­nom­e­non has be­come so com­mon that she wrote a new book, Rad­i­cal Me­tab­o­lism, which delves into how to res­cue a stalled me­tab­o­lism that typ­i­cally oc­curs af­ter 40.

A Toxic Me­tab­o­lism

Me­tab­o­lism means trans­form­ing the food you eat into en­ergy via count­less life- sus­tain­ing chem­i­cal re­ac­tions that mostly oc­cur at the cel­lu­lar level. Our me­tab­o­lism con­trols di­ges­tion, as well as get­ting nu­tri­ents into the cell and waste prod­ucts out.

Some­times, our cells aren’t get­ting the nu­tri­ents they need, aren’t detox­i­fy­ing well, or both. “Be­cause so many tox­ins are in our food, wa­ter, and air to­day, tox­ins pro­gres­sively ac­cu­mu­late, and the body has a diffi cult time clean­ing them all out,” says Git­tle­man. “When this hap­pens, me­tab­o­lism be­comes toxic and slug­gish, and your abil­ity to con­trol weight and main­tain healthy func­tion in or­gans and sys­tems through­out the body de­te­ri­o­rates.”

5 Rules to Res­cue Me­tab­o­lism

To boost your me­tab­o­lism so that it keeps you lean, healthy, and en­er­gized as you get older, try th­ese rules from Rad­i­cal Me­tab­o­lism:

1. Re­vamp Your Fats To shift your body from sugar- burn­ing mode into fat- burn­ing mode, eat less sugar, and don’t skimp on fats. Cell mem­branes are made of fat, and to strengthen cell mem­branes and counter re­sis­tance to many diff er­ent hor­mones, in­clud­ing in­sulin, it’s im­por­tant not to lower fat in­take,

Git­tle­man says. In­stead, change the fats in your diet.

Elim­i­nate high omega- 6 re­fined veg­etable oils ( corn, soy­bean, cot­ton­seed), trans- fats ( par­tially hy­dro­genated oils found in mar­garine and but­ter sub­sti­tutes), and very- long- chain fatty acids ( canola oil, peanut oil, whole peanuts, peanut but­ter, mus­tard oil, and bor­age oil). In­stead, eat whole olives and olive oil; av­o­ca­dos and av­o­cado oil; co­conut oil; grass- pas­tured an­i­mal prod­ucts and wild cold- wa­ter fish; nuts ( or­ganic al­monds, Brazil nuts, pis­ta­chios, hazel­nuts, and pine nuts); seeds ( hemp seeds, chia, sun­flower, saf­flower, se­same, flax, pump­kin seeds); and cold- pressed seed oils.

If you’re stuck in your weight loss eff orts, con­sider adding hemp seeds and hemp oil to your diet, and pos­si­bly a gamma- linolenic acid ( GLA) sup­ple­ment, such as black cur­rant oil. GLA is un­par­al­leled in pro­mot­ing fat burn­ing by ac­ti­vat­ing a type of fat called brown fat, ac­cord­ing to Git­tle­man.

2. Re­store Your Gall­blad­der Many in­di­vid­u­als have diffi culty di­gest­ing and me­tab­o­liz­ing fats. If you have this prob­lem, then sim­ply eat­ing more healthy fats and less sugar is not go­ing to re­sult in the metabolic shift needed for weight loss and op­ti­mal health— and pop­u­lar higher- fat di­ets such as Pa­leo or ke­to­genic di­ets may not work for you. To op­ti­mize your body’s abil­ity to use healthy fats for your benefi t, it’s im­por­tant to help sup­port the liver to pro­duce ad­e­quate, healthy bile. Bile helps your body break down all the fats you eat, which is crit­i­cal to healthy mem­branes and healthy hor­mones. Bile also helps re­move tox­ins so they can be fl ushed out of your liver. Ad­e­quate, healthy bile pro­motes healthy func­tion of the gall­blad­der, the or­gan where bile is stored.

The top strat­egy to sup­port the pro­duc­tion of ad­e­quate, healthy bile is to incorporate more bit­ter foods in your diet, in­clud­ing as­para­gus, dan­de­lion greens, col­lards, radic­chio, red leaf let­tuce, wa­ter­cress, arugula, broc­coli, cab­bage, en­dive, ar­ti­choke, cau­li­flower, kale, Swiss chard, and even coff ee and ca­cao. You could also try an herbal bit­ters for­mula. Pop­u­lar in­gre­di­ents in­clude bar­berry bark, dan­de­lion, fennel, gen­tian root, globe ar­ti­choke, milk this­tle, worm­wood, and yel­low dock.

3. Re­build Your Mus­cles Fat gain al­ways ac­com­pa­nies mus­cle loss, so ad­dress­ing age- re­lated mus­cle loss, known as sar­cope­nia, is an­other im­por­tant step in restor­ing healthy me­tab­o­lism. To get the es­sen­tial amino acids your body needs, eat protein daily. But don’t overdo it: The body can uti­lize only 4– 6 ounces of protein at a time, Git­tle­man says. Also make sure the protein you eat is high- qual­ity. Avoid pro­cessed meat prod­ucts from fac­to­ry­farmed an­i­mals, and in­stead fo­cus on wild- caught fish and or­ganic and pas­ture- raised meat, eggs, and dairy.

4. Re­pair Your Gut Healthy di­ges­tion is key to a ro­bust me­tab­o­lism, but many peo­ple suff er from un­healthy bac­te­rial bal­ance, as well as per­me­able or “leaky” gut, due to ex­po­sure to tox­ins and al­ler­gens. To re­store gut health, Git­tle­man rec­om­mends:

Avoid­ing sug­ars and al­ler­genic foods ( such as gluten, dairy, and eggs) Avoid­ing refi ned carbs, pro­cessed fats, and fac­tory- farmed meats Re­pop­u­lat­ing your gut with benefi cial bac­te­ria by eat­ing more nat­u­rally fer­mented foods, such as sauer­kraut and kim­chi, and/ or by tak­ing pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ments

5. Re­duce Your Toxic Load We’re ex­posed to tox­ins that run the gamut from hor­mone- dis­rupt­ing chem­i­cals ( known as obe­so­gens), which show up in tap wa­ter, nonor­ganic foods, and non­stick cook­ware, to dan­ger­ous pes­ti­cides such as glyphosate, which is sprayed on ge­net­i­cally mod­ifi ed corn, soy, sugar, and canola. If the body has a heavy toxic bur­den, many of its re­sources are needed just to keep the poi­sons cleared out, leav­ing pre­cious few avail­able for fat burn­ing.

To jump­start your me­tab­o­lism, you may need a rad­i­cal life­style cleanup. Opt for or­ganic real foods when­ever pos­si­ble. Ditch ar­tifi cial air “fresh­en­ers.” In­vest in an air pu­ri­fier. And im­prove your body’s detox­i­fi­ca­tion pro­cesses by drink­ing plenty of fresh wa­ter, as well as by sweat­ing ( a form of detox­i­fi­ca­tion through your skin) by tak­ing in­frared saunas or ex­er­cis­ing. Do you have a ques­tion for the nutri­tion­ist? We would love to hear from you. Please email your ques­tions to bnask­thenu­tri­tion­[email protected]

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