What Is MADS? Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome

What Is MADS? Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome

What Is MADS? Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome

As we enter our 40s and 50s, many of us start experiencing a host of concerning symptoms like low energy, brain fog, digestive issues, achy joints, and unwanted weight gain

While it’s easy to chalk these up to just “getting older,”  the collection of these symptoms actually points to an underlying health condition: Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome (MADS).

MADS refers to the convergence of multiple seemingly unconnected functions and processes that were quite robust in young adulthood but decline in in our middle-aged years.

For many Gen Xers (like me) and elder millennials, we are shocked and dismayed that our bodies are betraying us like this. 

See if any of this sounds familiar…

  • You feel like you look at a donut and gain weight.
  • You work out regularly, but that lower belly pudge won’t seem to go away (and where did that underarm flab come from?!).
  • That second glass of wine gives you a three-day hangover.
  • The thought of going out at 9 PM (or, frankly, at all) makes you feel exhausted most days.
  • Foods you used to be able to eat no problem start causing you digestive problems, whether that’s bloating, heartburn, or mad dashes to the bathroom.
  • Words seem to be “on the tip of your tongue” more often than they used to be – making you wonder if this is the start of mental decline.
  • You feel more anxious, emotional, and quick to irritate than ever before. Has the world gotten more crazy, or is it just you?
  • Women wonder what fresh hell your monthly cycle will throw at you: Will it be on time? Will you be whipping through Ultra tampons every two hours? Will you be doubled over by the vice-like grip of cramps like you’ve never experienced before in your life?

If you feel seen right now, welcome to MADS, my friend.

It’s enough to make you feel… well, MAD!

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of decline. Your body has the natural ability to reclaim your inner vibrancy, energy, and zest for life!

Let’s explore the root causes behind MADS – and what you can do to feel like your old self again!

What Is MADS?

Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome (MADS) is caused by age-related decline in body functions—primarily driven by inflammation, mitochondrial energy decline, and gut microbiome imbalances. 

The microbiome acts as a powerful controller and support system for nearly every function in the body. When our microbiome becomes impaired, it sets off a chain reaction, causing several bodily systems to degrade.

MADS Symptoms

Most organ systems and bodily processes go into gradual decline as part of MADS, contributing to serious physical and even mental health issues.

Digestive Decline

As we hit and surpass 40, many people suddenly develop digestive issues like:

  • Bloating and gas
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Food sensitivities

This digestive dysfunction stems from an imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria. Certain strains of bacteria begin to take over and produce gas, inflammation, and other issues. They may also fail to produce key nutrients, hormones, and chemical signals relied on by digestive organs.

Brain Fog and Mood Issues

Declining digestive health also impacts the gut-brain axis. This is the communication superhighway between gut bacteria and the brain. When our microbiome is imbalanced, it hampers cognition and emotional regulation. 

Symptoms of mental health problems may include:

  • Poor memory
  • Haziness/confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Decreased creativity

Metabolic Slowdown

In our 40s and 50s, hormones, enzymes, and other metabolic regulators decrease. With inadequate signals from our microbiome, metabolism has no stimulant, so it starts to sputter. 

This leads to:

  • Weight gain
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Reduction in fat burning
  • Feeling cold frequently
  • Low thyroid function

Chronic Tiredness

With metabolism slowing down, energy gets zapped. Low iron, B vitamins, and magnesium from poor nutrient absorption reduce energy. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Lack of mental and emotional energy
  • Poor motivation, ambition, or drive
  • Desiring naps or early bedtimes
  • Difficulty exercising

Aches and Pains

Inflammation increases with microbiome imbalance. This swelling puts pressure on joints and tissues, leading to new or worsening conditions like:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Headaches

Other Quality of Life Issues

MADS may also involve declining immunity, sleep problems, hormonal dysfunction, and lowered resilience to stress.

What Causes MADS?

In our youth, our gut houses a vibrant, diverse community of thousands of beneficial bacteria strains. They work cooperatively to help regulate digestion, hormone signaling, inflammation, immunity, nutrient production, detoxification, and more.

But over time, lifestyle stressors like poor nutrition, lack of sleep, too little exercise, chronic stress, and high toxic load chip away at the microbiome. Beneficial flora starts to disappear, allowing harmful strains like yeasts and pathogenic bacteria to take their place.

With essential bacteria missing and troublemakers taking over, microbiome function deteriorates. And since our gut health influences most bodily systems, this microbial imbalance ends up causing system-wide issues. 

MADS symptoms represent the downstream effects of a distressed microbiome no longer supporting our body’s needs.

Recent studies show that optimizing our gut flora and microbiome balance through lifestyle approaches like dietary practices can help alleviate many MADS signs and symptoms. These strategies aim to counteract age-related changes by recharging the body’s inner vitality.

Stop Getting MADS – Start Getting Even (in Your Microbiome)

The good news is that rebalancing our microbiome appears highly effective for easing MADS. 

Strategies like taking probiotics, eating prebiotic fibers (which your body can’t consume but your “gut bugs” can), and following an anti-inflammatory diet provide the microbiome with what it needs to regain diversity and optimal function. 

A flourishing gut flora then starts producing neurotransmitters, vitamins, hormones, and other compounds that reduce inflammation, stimulate energy and immunity, improve digestion, enhance cognition, boost metabolism, and more.

Restoring microbiome balance helps restart our body’s engine, allowing it to return to smoothly running operations. 

Let’s look deeper at how optimizing the microbiome can alleviate the various MADS symptoms older adults experience:

Solutions for Digestive Decline

Introducing probiotic strains like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, along with prebiotics like inulin, bran, and resistant starch feeds good flora. This allows them to multiply and crowd out gas-producing bacteria. 

A diversified microbiome also better breaks down nutrients, eases constipation, improves gut barrier defenses, and reduces inflammation of IBS, reflux, and diarrhea.

Here are some easy ways to boost the health and number of your “good” gut bugs:

  1. Take a gut microbiome test – This shows you the exact number of specific strains of bacteria, viruses, and other inhabitants living inside your digestive system. Once we have this knowledge, we can create a laser-focused plan to get the population back in check.
  2. Eat fermented foods – Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. They directly introduce new good bacteria to recolonize the digestive system. Fermented foods, such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, are all examples of probiotics.
  3. Try probiotic supplements – Many people struggle to eat enough probiotic foods, so when a client comes to me with deficient populations of “good” bacteria, we almost always bring in some sort of probiotic supplement protocol. For example, CT-Biotic has 11 strains of bacteria critical for supporting detoxification, digestive function, and immunity.
  4. Ingest prebiotics – Prebiotics are fiber the beneficial bacteria already inside the microbiome eat, providing them with the nutrients needed to multiply and flourish. They’re found in fiber-rich foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, potato starch, and green bananas. You can also get them in supplement format.

Relieving Brain Fog and Mood Issues

Anti-inflammatory compounds and neurotransmitters in a healthy microbiome enhance communication through the gut-brain axis. This allows the brain to lift out of inflammation-induced fog while improving the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. Cognition and positivity increase while anxiety and depression decrease.

Here are some ways to promote mentally and emotionally healthy neurotransmitters:

  1. Engage in stress-relieving activities – Chronic stress damages good gut bacteria, allowing inflammation and anxiety-promoting microbes to thrive. Activities like yoga, meditation, journaling, massage, and spending time in nature calm the nervous system, allowing the vagus nerve and microbiome to recalibrate.
  2. Get enough sleep nightly – Lack of sleep negatively alters gut flora balance and impairs neurotransmitter synthesis. Aim for 7-9 hours per night to enable the microbiome to complete the “clean and repair” processes required for healthy communication pathways. An easy way to do this is to establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. For example, 2-3 hours before bed, keep lights dim, avoid electronics, take a bath, and sip herbal tea. This triggers restorative nervous system functioning for sounder sleep.
  3. Stay well-hydrated daily – Dehydration allows bacteria overgrowth and electrolyte imbalances that disrupt neurotransmitter production and nerve signaling. Sip plain water consistently, along with herbal tea and broth. Pro Tip: Add fresh lemon, mint, cucumber, or fruit to your water for flavor. Studies show that bioactive compounds add microbiome-enhancing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, too.

Boosting Metabolism

With an anti-inflammatory diet and thriving microbiome, metabolism kicks back into higher gear. Key hormones and enzymes increase while stubborn weight becomes easier to lose. This increases energy while balancing blood sugar. Thyroid function may also improve.

Here are some simple ways to boost your metabolism naturally:

  1. Eat more omega-3-rich foodsOily fish (salmon, sardines), walnuts, chia seeds, and grass-fed beef supply anti-inflammatory omega-3s and fatty acids that cultivate healthy gut flora. The improved microbiome better regulates insulin, leptin, thyroid, and other hormones influencing metabolism.
  2. Increase intake of magnesium and fiber – Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, avocados, and whole grains provide inflammation-reducing nutrients. They raise magnesium while feeding microbiome-fueling fiber. This optimizes enzyme production and insulin sensitivity.
  3. Stay active with muscle-building and cardio exercise – Activity helps shift gut bacteria toward strains that improve insulin and fat metabolism. Exercise also directly increases metabolism in two ways: First, building stronger muscles burns more calories at rest. Second, increased activity tells the mitochondria (our cellular “powerhouses”) to work harder, speeding up your whole-body metabolism. Walking, swimming, and bodyweight training 5-6 days a week are effective metabolism-enhancing options.

Recharging Energy

Amplified metabolism equals more fuel for the body and brain. B vitamins, iron, and magnesium absorption also increase thanks to a microbiome rich in nutrient-producing bacteria. This floods the body with compounds that drive energy and stamina while reducing chronic fatigue.

  1. Eat more sulfur-rich foods – Compounds in garlic, onions, and cruciferous veggies feed bacteria that generate B vitamins, glutathione, and other essential cofactors.
  2. Optimize vitamin D levelsVitamin D supplements have been shown to cultivate more magnesium-producing bacteria, increasing this calming mineral.
  3. Eat more protein (vital for women)Studies show that consuming adequate high-quality protein provides essential amino acids that preserve declining muscle mass, strengthen bones, optimize hormone regulation, improve weight control, and prevent fatigue by supplying essential vitamins and minerals. 

Most women need at least 90-120g of protein daily after 40. Calculate your needs with this simple formula:

Your weight in pounds x 0.7 = daily grams of protein.

For example, a 140 lb woman needs about 98g protein each day (140 x 0.7 = 98g)

Check out these food ideas for packing in the protein daily:

Breakfast options:

Lunch options:

  • Tuna salad sandwich – 3oz tuna (22g protein) + lettuce, tomato on whole grain bread
  • 1 cup edamame salad (16g protein)
  • Egg Roll Bowl (22g protein)

Dinner options:

Snacks options:

  • Hummus and veggies (10g protein)
  • 1 oz mixed nuts (8g protein)

Getting enough protein is crucial for maintaining health and vitality through shifting hormone levels and metabolism in middle age.

Relieving Aches and Pains

Studies confirm that balancing the microbiome lowers whole-body inflammation linked with rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, muscle soreness, and back pain. Helpful microbiota and their anti-inflammatory compounds calm an overactive immune response in joints, connective tissues, and nerves. Pain sensitivity decreases as swelling reduces.

  1. Try anti-inflammatory spicesStudies show that turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and rosemary compounds have microbial and direct inflammation-taming effects to alleviate pain.
  2. Reduce sugar intakeSugar fuels inflammation, which is a key factor in joint pain and related chronic conditions, such as arthritis, autoimmunity, and MS. Limiting added sugars, refined grains, and high glycemic foods starves inflammation-fueling bacteria, allowing favorable flora to proliferate.
  3. Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables – Produce like berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes supply polyphenols that promote the growth of anti-inflammatory bacteria.

Is MADS Your Fate?

Optimizing our microbiome function can help counteract many of the negative “midlife crisis” symptoms we experience with MADS. Feed good flora through smart dietary and lifestyle changes while embracing anti-inflammatory living. This microbiome-centric medicine realigns body systems, putting zip back into midlife years.

Rather than just accepting unwanted declines, get ahead of MADS now – and reverse your biological age.

While MADS may be a new term to you, it’s one you’re going to hear a lot more of soon. There’s no need to backslide through life. 

If you feel like you’re still a kid at heart and want the energy and aesthetics to match…

Work with a qualified practitioner who can help identify exactly what’s causing your decline so your energy can keep up with your ambition.

Take your first step here.

You can schedule your complimentary discovery call with my team of functional medicine experts today.

Take Good Care,

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