To tell you the truth, choosing only 5 wellness hacks among everything I know about health and wellbeing was really hard for me. Especially because in the last two years I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to studying women’s health and hormones. Not because of the COVID situation and not because I was trying to get my immune system stronger, but because after turning 40 my hair started thinning and falling out. I was feeling tired and unwilling to get out of bed. I was grumpy and bloated for most days of the month. And finally, being completely transparent, I was falling out of love with my own life.
It felt like a force was taking over me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. There were no obvious pains or illnesses at that moment in my life, but I knew something was not right with me. So I started asking questions!
I believe I’ve been relatively healthy for most of my life. I’ve been exercising and eating a clean and healthy diet (mostly vegan food) for the last 16-years. So why, suddenly, didn’t I feel good in my body any more?
I wanted to know what I could do to find the energy and zest for life I used to have? Could I get back my full and lush hair? Could I feel good again? Could I have smooth and glowing skin again? And why do I feel angry and frustrated most of the time?
I can almost hear some of you saying: welcome to midlife my dear friend! But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?! What if we can still love and enjoy life no matter the number of years. So, I started looking for answers. Because we always blame it on age (or hormones), but there are other factors that can support us in the process of ageing. This really can become The Power Age as Kelly Doust writes in her book.
Your health is your wealth
For the past year I’ve listened to hundreds of podcasts and read several books on wellness for women over 40, hormonal health and wellbeing hacks. I started questioning every single eating & lifestyle habit, checking where is it coming from and whether it serves me at this stage in my life. I’ve decided to take on a very individual approach to my own health and went through a series of blood and stool tests with a functional doctor.
You may think finding answers is easy these days because there’s so much information out there. But if you ask me, every theory and piece of science based research has an opposing argument! That means it’s you and your own common sense, your connection with your body, your experience and logic that will help you find the right way for your health and wellbeing.
I’m far from thinking that in this article I can give you only truths to all your questions. You see there’s no such thing as ONE truth for everybody. Especially in the wellness world. But there is one truth that will serve you best! Consider this: All the research and data available is to some extent compromised. Why? Well let’s look at a very simple question: to eat or not to eat meat?! You know the whole world now talks about plant based diet and how bad eating meat for the planet is. But that is not exactly the truth. Have you ever heard about Regenerative Agriculture and the idea that grazing ruminant populations are key to a healthy ecosystem. “Think of the hordes of bison that once roamed the prairies. Their manure returned nutrients to the soil. And because these animals grazed on grass, the land didn’t have to be plowed to plant corn for feed, so deep-rooted grasses that prevent erosion flourished. Had those iconic herds still been around in the 1930s, the argument goes, they would have helped prevent the catastrophe of the Dust Bowl”. (source)
All I am saying is that eating grass-fed meat, which contains the super precious for women fats, amino acids and protein, may not be so bad after all. In fact, it is recommended, unless you’re abstaining from meat for spiritual reasons.
Most of the discussions about consuming meat and the effect on people’s health is also based on research that doesn’t take into consideration the kind of meat that’s being consumed. In fact no research specifies whether we are talking about processed or grass-fed meat. Plus none of the other factors, such as environment, stress, and lifestyle, are taken into consideration too.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to convince any of you to eat meat, all I am trying to do is to make you question all the data and information out there, to trust your own body signals, instead of blindly following what others are saying.
Because with all best intentions at heart, even data can be misleading.
What you can expect in this article is that I’ll share with you only those wellness hacks, I’ve tried myself and still am practicing. And I know they work! Some things, as much as you think are a matter of psychology or willpower, often turn out to be a result of chemical reactions in the body.
So after my blood and still tests, I found out that I was depleted from most of the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein and collagen in the body, and so important for hair growth, skin health and bone density. Starting to take a list of supplements, tailored for my body needs, it took me approximately a year to see my hair coming back, to feel the energy and to stabilise my mood swings and cravings.
I must admit I really enjoy how I feel at the moment, which is 2 years after my first test! My hair is full again, my skin and chiseled face looks more youthful and glowing than in my 20s. And the best part is, I’m full of energy again, I feel my will-power, my focus and enthusiasm about life are back. And, it’s worth mentioning for those who care – my weight is stable too.
So without further ado, here are my 5 wellness hacks for women over 40 and beyond.
1/Wellness Hacks: Work on your detox. Daily!
If we think of detox in the most simple way, it means helping your body get rid of the toxins and onslaught of stressors that our cells are exposed to in modern life. Supporting your body’s ability to detox becomes crucial with time and age. There are many ways to do that: from the simple rule to drink more water, to much more complicated detox programs and intermittent fasting. Detoxes can also help your body get rid of chronic inflammation, which can heal all kinds of chronic pains and hormonal imbalances.
My best go-to wellness hacks for supporting my body in the detox process are:
Beside Infrared saunas and Red Light Therapy devices, you may choose the infrared sauna blankets, which are very easy to fit into your home and use daily. Read more about Red Light Therapy here.
One of the most popular red light therapies is JOOVV, an Australian brand that has developed medical grade power devices of all kinds of sizes that can fit on your bedroom door or simply function as a night table lamp. Find out about the technology here.
Beside JOOVV, there is Red Therapy.co and Infrared Saunas.
2/Wellness Hacks: Feed (and detox) your brain
A lot of women in their perimenopause and menopause experience the so-called brain fog. Figuring out what exactly causes brain fog is not easy. However, brain fog can be a result of high chronic inflammation, which often happens because of what we eat (too much processed packaged food, sugar and other highly inflammatory foods). It can be related to hormonal changes (a drop in estrogen levels during menopause can cause forgetfulness, poor concentration, and cloudy thinking), inflammation in the gut, stress or thyroid dysfunction.
That’s why an important part of wellness for women over 40 is pulling toxins from the brain and nurturing it with the right nutrients.
Detoxing your brain is not as easy as your body, but there’s one tip that always works. You may be surprised to hear, but intermittent fasting can help not only with weight loss, but also promote neurological health and decrease neurodegenerative diseases. Start with trying to extend the time between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. Shoot for 12-hours. This promotes a process called ketogenesis, which can stimulate brain regeneration. Ketogenesis can be tricky and it’s best if you measure it or work with someone who knows what they’re doing.
The goal with a ketogenic diet is to start burning stored fat instead of stored sugar. Fat cells store a lot of toxins and in that way the body is starting to self-clean, a process known as autophagy (a cellular mechanism found by Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Christian de Duve in 1963). When the body burns fat, the liver starts to produce a compound called Ketones. They’re used as an alternative fuel when there’s not enough glucose (sugar) for energy. When you have ketones circulating, your brain can use them as an alternative fuel source by converting them to energy through a process called beta-oxidation.
And remember, your brain is made of 60% fat, which means that in order to keep it healthy and well, you need to consume more fat. As I mentioned, stored fat usually stores toxins, so if you trick the body into burning fat instead of glucose, you’ll help the body clean and burn toxins too. Sounds simple, right? As long as you trick your body to start burning fat, by reducing the intake of glucose (or in other words carbohydrates, which are converted into glucose), then you will achieve ketosis. This is when you will feel the mental clarity and focus you’ve been craving!