Controlling Stress Promotes Healthy Aging
Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy
Controlling cortisol and insulin levels are essential strategies in the quest for healthy aging. These hormones cause an increase in metabolic stress which leads to abdominal weight gain, chronic inflammation and telomere shortening. Metabolic aging can be partially offset by an increase in DHEA and testosterone coupled with a decrease in cortisol and insulin. Low hormone levels can be aided by supplementation. Exercise has been shown to increase DHEA and decrease cortisol and insulin levels.
Certain personality types experience an exaggerated stress response with higher than usual cortisol and insulin levels. It is theorized that individuals with anxiety or low self-esteem, who suppress negative feelings like anger and fear being evaluated by others, are prime candidates for premature aging. Progesterone, particularly in capsule form, has a calming effect on the nervous system.
A small study of 36 menopausal women found an association between pessimism and an increase in Interleukin-6, an inflammatory substance, as well as shorter white blood cell telomere length. Both are probable markers of premature aging.
- Epel ES. Psychological and Metabolic Stress: A Recipe for Accelerated Cellular Aging? Hormones (Athens). 2009 Jan-Mar;8(1):7-22.
- O’Donovan A, et al. Pessimism Correlates with Leukocyte Telomere Shortness and Elevated Interleukin-6 in Post-Menopausal Women. Brain Behav Immun. 2009 May;23(4):446-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 11.