Menopause is a period in a woman’s life when she stops getting her periods. This usually occurs around the age of 45-50 and it is an entirely normal process that should be never considered an issue. However, menopause often causes unpleasant changes in the body such as increased fat storage which results in weight gain.
The reason for this is the reduced production of estrogen, a hormone that activates the ovaries and the release of the eggs into the fallopian tubes. The estrogen production is largest during teen years, and it occurs until the late 40’s and early 50’s, gradually decreasing over the years.
Eventually, when the levels of estrogen decrease to that point that the ova release is stopped, the female body shifts its energy use from reproduction to maintenance of health.
It is at this time when the body becomes more susceptible to hormonal variations and changes, which often cause an increased ability to store fat in the midsection.
Yet, weight gain is not the only culprit for weight gain during menopause, but any hormonal imbalance in the body can contribute to it. Therefore, the balance of insulin, cortisol, thyroid hormones, and leptin plays a huge role.
This hormone reduces the circulation of blood sugar, so to ensure an insulin balance, you should eat foods with a low glycemic index, and avoid foods rich in carbohydrates and with a high glycemic index. Such foods cause spikes in the blood sugar levels, and over time, cause the development of insulin resistance, in which the body’s’ cells are less sensitive to insulin when levels are high in the bloodstream. This, in turn, causes weight gain since the blood sugar should be eliminated from the bloodstream, and it is sent into the fat cells for storage.
The adrenal glands release cortisol, or the stress hormone, which elevates blood-sugar levels, and thus helps the body to get the needed fuel in order to perform their energy-requiring functions. When the blood sugar levels are chronically elevated, the body might develop cortisol resistance and adrenal fatigue, in which the body cannot keep up with the demand of using the fuel sources, and they get stored as fat.
Leptin is a hormone produced by our fat cells, sent to tell our hypothalamus (in our brain) that we are satiated. Leptin levels are increased in response to higher levels of sugars like fructose. Over time, high blood sugar and high fructose levels can lead to leptin resistance in the cells of our hypothalamus. This over time can lead us to believe that we are not satiated, when in fact we are already full. This is one of the causes of overeating due to a hormonal imbalance and resistance to leptin.
These hormones determine the amount of energy the body cells can produce. In the case of increased thyroid levels, the cells burn more carbohydrates and fats to produce cellular energy (ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate) in the mitochondria. When the function of the thyroid hormones is changed, the body cannot properly produce energy and burn carbs and fats, and they end up stored in the cells. To maintain the balance of hormones in the body and thus optimize health and prevent weight gain when entering menopause, you should follow the tips below:
Eat Green, Clean and Lean
To optimize health, you need to eat a diet rich in healthy foods. There are certain foods which regulate blood sugar levels and thus balance hormones. Make sure you increase the intake of greens, preferably dark green leafy vegetables. Avoid vegetables treated with chemicals, GMO, pesticides, and herbicides, and focus on foods rich in inflammatory fats.
Also, consume lean meats, organic foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and seeds and nuts.
Women older than fifty mostly lose their muscle mass due to inactivity, which also causes osteoporosis. Therefore, try to at least walk for 20-30 minutes daily, a few times a week. You must remain active and keep your body in a good shape.
Functional Lab Testing:
You should check your hormonal levels and cellular health tested using functional lab testing, in order to correct any existing issue on time.