Menopause is an unavoidable fact of life that most woman will eventually encounter. While most women will begin showing signs of menopause around the age of 50, there are some who may experience premature menopause as early as in their mid-30s.
One of the many changes we will notice is the shifting of weight in different places, especially around the midsection. I will explain the changes which cause this to happen:
During menopause, our production of estrogen and progesterone slows down and will eventually stop altogether. Once our bodies stop ovulating completely, it starts to look for estrogen elsewhere. Since estrogen can be formed from fat cells, our body produces more of these cells to help balance the loss. This hormonal change is associated in the way which the body’s fat is distributed – along with the tendency to gain weight more easily. In this case, the body works hard in converting calories into stored fat – which does not burn calories quickly like our muscles do.
A lower progesterone level causes our bodies to put on water weight. This is not the same type of weight gain caused by fat cells. Doctors have found that during this cycle, women tend to eat more and move less due to a lower metabolism. Metabolism is the process on how fast our bodies burn calories over a period of time. Our muscle cells work to burn calories which, in turn, increase our metabolism. The downside is that we generally lose our muscle mass during this stage.
Even though it seems like the odds are against us, it is still possible to tip the scale in our favor by maintaining a healthy body weight. The most important step we can take is to reverse lifestyle habits that contribute to weight gain. In addition, women who normally carry weight on the thighs and hips (rather than the belly), have a lower risk of heart attacks. However, that changes at menopause when the weight shifts to the midsection.
Hormone replacement therapy is a conventional medical treatment which is effective in treating menopausal symptoms along with the weight gain associated with it. It is only available under a doctor’s care and is not recommended for everybody due to other risk factors associated with it.
1. Adding more fresh produce on your plate is a great place to start. Reduce the number of saturated fats, sugars, and processed foods. Soy, cherries, brown rice, wheat, and sweet potatoes are known to naturally promote estrogen levels. These foods are loaded with fiber and healthy nutrients the body needs which will naturally make you feel full and satisfied, preventing the urge to indulge in foods that do not benefit the health of the body.
2. B6-rich foods along with herbs (turmeric, thyme, and oregano) are known to help with progesterone levels. There are a variety of natural herbs available which are known to aid in achieving a healthy weight. Many herbs have been used for centuries by European and Asian cultures and are recently backed by research for their potential to reduce menopausal symptoms which can contribute to weight gain.
3. Lifestyle changes such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol are linked to a faster decline in estrogen levels. Alcoholic beverages pack on excess calories, making it more challenging with maintaining a healthy weight.
4. Regular exercises can help to prevent weight gain. Include cardio and strength training in your workouts help to build lean muscle mass as you age. Always consult with your physician before starting a fitness program.
These are the most important options that address weight management during menopause.
We have to come to terms with the changes in our body during menopause. If you are looking to losing or managing weight, do not look for a crash diet. Look to finding a healthy eating plan that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Here is a tea recipe that has helped me along my journey in reducing down those hot flashes and night sweats.