“Estrogen is not just about reproductive health. It’s about life itself. And it’s about metabolism,” says Felice Gersh, M.D., who is the Medical Director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine Consultative Faculty. She was one of the expert speakers at the American Association of Anti-Aging Medicine’s (A4M) 26th World Congress, which was held in Las Vegas last December.
The FoodTrients team and I attended the three-day event, which was loaded with speakers, workshops and exhibits presenting clinical education and advances in the most recent research and practices as they relate to wellness and aging. Many of the sessions were geared toward medical professionals, but we were able to distill information to share with you in lay terms.
“Estrogen receptors influence gene expression and activate non-genomic pathways,” Dr. Gersh adds. She spoke to a crowded auditorium at the Venetian Hotels Conference Center on the subject of fasting and estrogen. For those of us who have experienced menopause and the effects of estrogen on aging, this is one topic that got my attention. Here’s is what we learned.
Men and women have different immune systems, but sex-based immunological differences have historically been overlooked. Luckily, research and awareness growing!
Our differences are driven by:
Estrogen has a variety of diverse impacts in the body, and has critical roles in extra-gonadal tissues, including our heart, muscles, bone, joints, gut, liver, arteries, skin, immune cells/mitochondria, bladder, lungs, and brain.
There are estrogen receptors on every cell in your body, and estrogen also plays a protective role in our bodies delivering an impress list of benefits.
“Estrogen and fasting are a team. They can work together to help cells,” Dr. Gersh says.
How does fasting help women and estrogen production? It can:
As women age, our estrogen levels shift. Post-menopausal women are vulnerable to many conditions associated with aging like insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, sleep disturbances, inflammation and more.
Women’s bodies have adapted to varying conditions of food availability and scarcity. When food is scarce, nature will postpone reproductive functions until food returns, and reproductive life may be prolonged by periods of fasting.
Autophagy, which is essential for survival and health, is a biological process that plays a key role in your body’s ability to detoxify, repair, and regenerate itself. When you activate your body’s autophagy, you reduce inflammation and slow down the aging process. Unfortunately, autophagy declines with age, and this decline is prominent in heart disease and other chronic diseases.
Estrogen and fasting work together to improve survival and help autophagy, which plays and important role in regulation of aging & age-related degenerative diseases.
Like autophagy, circadian rhythm plays another critical role for our bodies. We are programmed by the rhythm of the earth’s turning – the circadian rhythm:
Circadian disruptors can cause a loss of estrogen. Disruptors like:
Loss of estrogen alters our circadian rhythm and has a significant impact on our health, including:
For women, menopause is inevitable, but what can we do to reduce its negative impact?
Combined effects of both periodic fasting and time restricted eating can create a positive impact on circadian rhythms and our body clocks. You can correct the clock with meal timing. Here’s what Dr. Gersh recommends:
Nourish Your Microbiome
Dr. Gersh says the best diet to nourish your microbiome includes:
Dr. Gersh also suggests that hormonal therapy in menopause:
“Periodic fasting is a great way to improve all the standard measures of metabolic wellness and is the best way to trigger important processes like cell rejuvenation (autophagy), killing off of bad cells (apoptosis), increasing brain growth factors, and even stimulating stem cells to proliferate,” says Dr. Gersh.
She chooses for herself and recommends to her patients the Fasting Mimicking Diet from the Longevity Institute at USC, which is now made into a commercial product called ProLon.