This interview with Dr. Sara Gottfried appeared on the London women’s website Sheerluxe on March 15, 2017. Here is an excerpt.
Renowned hormone expert Dr. Sara Gottfried knows a thing or two about aging well – the Harvard-graduate has 20 years of experience as a gynecologist, and several years ago took her health into her own hands after her hormones went haywire. Frustrated that anti-depressants and contraception were the only treatments at the time, Dr. Gottfried bio-hacked her own health and delved deeper into the topic of hormones.
Fast-forward four years and her third book, Younger, a program to reset genes and reverse aging, is already a bestseller. We caught up with her to talk hormones, genes and the best ways to promote anti-aging…
Firstly, how much of aging is down to genes?
Believe it or not, only 10% of aging is caused by genes, while 90% is caused by environmental factors, including lifestyle choices. I call this the 90/10 rule: genetics load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger. This gives you an incredible opportunity to change the course of disease and aging in your body. The goal is to upgrade that 90% to affect the 10% and thus age better.
What about hormones – is there anything you can do to protect these as you age?
Regarding hormones and the aging process, the most important hormone to be aware of is insulin. Unfortunately, you get more insulin resistant as you age, leading to a significant increase in blood sugar by the time we reach fifty – this can manifest itself in increased carb cravings and a foggy brain. A simple way to control blood sugar is to drink a glass of water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before meals. Another way to reset insulin levels is to fast intermittently for 14-18 hours; try to eat your dinner early, say by 6 PM, and then eat your next meal around noon the following day. Do this twice per week for weight loss and once per week to boost your longevity genes.
While myriad other hormones come into play when it comes to aging, just remember the right food, sleep and exercise can reverse many hormonal problems.
So, what should you be eating?
First and foremost, remove processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and sugar substitutes from your diet. Avoid anything that could lead to inflammation, (i.e. food intolerances, so avoid gluten and dairy) or heavy metals, such as tuna. Make an effort to increase your intake of healthy oils, such as coconut oil; clean proteins, like grass-fed beef and venison; wild-caught, cold-water fish, like halibut and salmon; slow-release carbs, like sweet potatoes and quinoa (although avoid these if you have weight to lose); and try to consume 900 grams of vegetables daily. Ensure you’re eating a variety of colors and aim for a plate that is 80% vegetables – think of animal-based food as a condiment.
Increasing research also shows carotenoids – the orange-red pigments found in carrots, butternut squash and yellow peppers – can significantly boost skin tone, so try to incorporate these on a regular basis.
Any top tips to prevent skin aging?
It’s widely known that as we age, we lose collagen. It might sound bizarre, but I recommend drinking a collagen latte daily – it’s easy to digest and drinkable collagen has been shown to be far more effective than oral supplements. Simply mix one to two tablespoons of collagen powder into your coffee; add a tablespoon of coconut oil and up to six drops of stevia for extra richness.
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