As we age, our bodies change. But you already know that! At some point in life we start to notice and feel little changes in our bodies: you know, the stiff and creaking joints, changes in eyesight, digestion becomes a little slower, we find that we don’t recover quickly from tough exercises. Our bodies also change the way it digests and absorbs nutrients from our food and drink. Our metabolism basically starts to slow down. We’ve all heard that saying “our metabolism slows down as we age”. Yes, that saying is true.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the chemical reactions that take place inside our bodies. This chemical process keeps our bodies alive and our organs operating at their full capacity, it’s this chemical reaction the body uses to build and maintain itself and to transform the food we eat into energy. Of course, these chemical processes require energy too. So, the minimum level of energy our bodies need to maintain essential functions such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Our BMR accounts for about 40% to 70% of our body’s daily energy demands, depending on our age and lifestyle. A “slow metabolism” can, therefore, be described as a low BMR.
Many things can affect our energy and metabolic functions, e.g., body size, age, gender and genes all affect the speed of your metabolism. Muscle cells need more energy to maintain than fat cells, so people who have more muscle than fat are more likely to have a faster metabolism. As we get older, our body fat increases, and we lose muscle, explaining why our metabolism slows down as we age. After the age of 25, our metabolism starts to slow down by 2 – 4 % every 10 years; it’s not like we actually notice these changes as we’re too busy with life events. By age 35, reality starts to take its toll, I mean at this stage some of us might even start to exercise and be more mindful of what we eat, but we may also discover that it’s harder to lose fat or gain muscle or even gain strength. However, this metabolic slump is not about our chronological age; instead, it’s about our metabolic age and our lifestyle choices. What this means is that we could have a metabolic age that is 20 years older than our actual age. Therefore, what we may perceive as “natural” ageing may, in fact, be as a result of our inactivity, poor nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Oh, wait, what’s this metabolic age I’m going on about?
Metabolic age is the state of our body. This can affect how well we feel both inside and out. When our metabolic age is higher than our actual age, we physically feel older than we are. However, when our metabolic age is lower than our real age, we feel much younger and a lot better. So, knowing what our metabolic age is and how to improve it is vital. Especially if it’s a lot higher than it should be. If our metabolic age is higher than the actual age, it means we need to take a closer look at our current lifestyle and think about how we can improve our nutrition; as well as ways to include exercises into our lifestyle to help us build healthy muscle tissue, which will, in turn, improve and drastically shift our metabolic age.
How can we know what our metabolic age is?
Doctors and most dieticians and nutritionists can perform a bioimpedance analysis (BIA) to test metabolic age and body fat percentage. However, this isn’t the only way, the internet makes it easy to carry out this test ourselves by using online calculators, thanks to doctor google! All we have to do is enter information such as age, weight, height, body mass index (BMI), waist measurement, and the online calculator uses all the information provided to calculate our metabolic age. Just like that!
How can we improve our metabolic age? Here are 4 ways to start.
- One crucial thing we can do to improve our energy and our health as we age is to be physically active. We can’t seem to escape this! Our bodies are designed to move. When we move, our bodies and brains work better. Movement could be something as simple as going for a walk, gardening, dancing or any type of physical activity that’s right for us irrespective of our age, and of course, something we enjoy doing. Although, studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in combination with resistance/weight training, are sure ways to boost metabolism. Physical activity is essential for improving metabolic age. Remember to consult your primary health provider before starting any physical activity.
Movement is the engine of health, wellness, and a long vibrant life. The more we move, the better we think, learn and remember.
- Proper nutrition is vital throughout life, especially so when trying to improve our metabolic age. When our metabolic age is higher than our physical age, it’s because our metabolism has a hard time keeping up with the quantity and poor quality of food we consume. Therefore, proper and healthy nutrition that’s rich in protein and high in fibre can fight an ageing metabolism.
- Get some sleep. Research shows a lack of sleep slows down metabolism. Luckily for us, a good night’s rest can reverse this effect. As we age, we may experience an increase in sleep disturbances, studies have shown a connection between metabolism and sleep. A study in the International Journal of Endocrinology revealed that lack of sleep can cause insulin resistance, this condition can raise glucose levels in the blood and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water does a lot of good for the body and help boost metabolism. Drink green tea, according to the International Journal of Obesity, drinking green tea can help improve our metabolism because it’s high in catechins, an antioxidant that can improve fat oxidation and the body’s production of energy from digestion.
Knowing that our metabolism decreases as we age allow us to start making little lifestyle changes that can help increase energy and improve our health.
Tell me, how old are you, really? Have you checked what your metabolic age is? And what measures are you taking to increase your metabolism?
Thanks a bunch for reading!