Optimal vs Normal Aging: How We Can Thrive Rather Than Survive Aging

Optimal vs Normal Aging: How We Can Thrive Rather Than Survive Aging

Optimal vs Normal Aging How We Can Thrive Rather Than Survive Agingpatient education blog image
by Cherie Constance
November 15, 2022

If you were playing a sport and you were given the option to join a team of normal, common place players versus a team of optimal, exemplary players, which would you choose? If you ran a business and were given the option of having a staff of ho-hum, substandard workers versus a workforce of choice, trained personnel, which would you prefer?

Of course, these are silly questions, but when it comes to our health, its often the choice we’re presented… would you like to age at a rate normal and typical of your gender and age, or would you like to take advantage of all the research and science available to age in a more optimal, graceful manner? In short, would you like to live better, longer?

It’s a no brainer. 

However, when we consider the 50+ crowd is 108.7 million strong and growing at a faster clip than any other demographic in the United States, to the tune of 19 million in the next decade, it’s incredibly important that we understand how we can successfully weather this coming aging storm.

As our life-expectancy increases, our desire to live a more quality existence also intensifies. Yet, despite this desire, we’re often not given the options and therapeutic approaches to do so. It all boils down to numbers. 

To find a doctor near you, simply search the Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) Provider Directory.

Treating the Blood Test

When test results speak to what’s common for our age, and we fall squarely in “the normal range,” we are not given any recourse or preventative care tactics to battle the ravages of aging. We are left to simply survive aging at a normal pace, rather than thrive through aging at an optimal stride. 

It’s important to understand that “normal” says nothing about quality of life and certainly says nothing about a person’s health. It’s an impersonal, statistical number that more often than not, gives us indicators of disease states rather than a true understanding of health status and long-term well-being. 

In fact, when you consider blood tests are often based on statistics, the “normal” reference values tend to change from year to year depending upon the prevalence of disease in the general population.

As our population becomes more obese and sicker from metabolic and cardiovascular disease, the “normal” reference range gets wider and wider. 

In this article, we’ll talk about optimal versus normal and why it’s important for our long-term health and goals to request therapies that induce more optimal levels that support increased energy and well-being no matter what age we are, specifically when it comes to hormones.

Hormones and Aging

Transported through our blood, hormones are our body’s signalers and stimulate specific cells or tissues into action. Hormones are responsible for such critical processes as growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and mood. They are vital to your overall health and well-being and once they decline or become imbalanced, these vital processes also decline or become imbalanced, which can lead to issues like weight gain, bone loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and reproductive challenges. A hormone imbalance can also have serious ramifications to the aging process. 

When hormones are replaced to optimal levels, men and women engaging in this type of therapy often feel better and experience beneficial outcomes like stronger bones, thicker skin, enhanced emotional and mental well-being, and higher muscle mass. Generally, higher hormone levels are indicative of lower disease states like hypertension, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as mortality.

If This Is the Case, Why Are Hormones Not Commonly Prescribed Today?

Well, It All Started Over 20 Years Ago…

When you consider, more and more people are residing in their 50s and beyond, and it’s well understood that hormones actually decrease many deleterious aging consequences, it seems senseless that we’re no closer to solving the aging dilemma with hormone replacement than we were twenty years ago.

It’s important to understand that there is a reason for that. Two decades ago, the WHI trial results effectively slammed the door on hormone replacement in many doctor’s offices around the country when it found that women taking a combination of estrogen and progestin had an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Hormone replacement therapy plummeted about 80 percent and women throughout the world were left to suffer from menopause and long-term health struggles in silence.

Although this trial was focused solely on women, it shone a light on all hormone replacement at large. Both men and women were being told the side effects of their aging was “normal” for their years and not to worry about it. Physicians, worldwide, stopped prescribing and in many instances, universities stopped teaching this medicinal method altogether. 

The Changing Tide: Treating the Patient (A Novel Approach!)

Luckily things are changing. The results of the WHI trial have been amended with the peer-reviewed journal Climacteric (the official journal of the International Menopause Society), reporting that the evidence has changed since 2002, and now supports a return to a “rational use of hormone therapy (HT), initiated near the onset of menopause.” 

Even key investigators within the WHI Trials have come full circle to realize that the results and subsequent reactions were deleterious to female health. Dr. Robert Langer, the principal investigator of the WHI Clinical Center has since said, “Information that has emerged over the last decade shows that for most women starting treatment near the onset of menopause, the benefits outweigh the risks, not just for relief of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, but also for reducing the risks of heart disease and fractures… Over-generalizing the results from the women who were — on average — 12 years past menopause to all post-menopausal women, has led to needless suffering and lost opportunities for many.”

Because of this many of our forward-thinking and patient-centric physicians have returned to prescribing hormones at optimal levels when both women and men begin to experience age-related decreases and symptoms.

These physicians measure not only a patient’s blood levels, but also their “symptom panel.” They check in with how their patients are feeling rather than measuring them against an arbitrary set of numbers. Neal Rouzier, a pioneering physician on the forefront of hormone replacement research states, “What is important is improving a patient’s symptoms and quality of life regardless of serum levels or dosages.”

Although this may seem obvious, this is a novel approach in medicine. Our doctors are trained to review the numbers as just a part of the patient puzzle while pulling in other metrics like the patient’s physical health, emotional symptoms, mental well-being, and symptom work up. With this arsenal of a full-patient understanding, our physicians can prescribe hormones to fit the patient’s needs and long-term health goals rather than a narrow window of “normal”.

How Can I Find a Doctor Who Prescribes Bio-Identical Hormones

The Academy of Preventive and Innovative Medicine trains physicians in hormone therapy.  We have not only identified competent and forward-thinking physicians throughout the country who offer these therapies, most of them are also trained by our experts to offer you the best care. To find a doctor near you, simply search the Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) Provider Directory.


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