Let’s Talk Menopause (again)
This post is longer than usual, however this topic deserves and requires time and space.
It is likely that if you are 45+ (younger or older in some), you will be experiencing menopausal symptoms, and the most noticeable and worrying symptom is probably weight gain. At this life stage your body is making it very difficult to either become or remain slim. No matter how hard you try, your waistline will be thickening (menopausal middle). While there is no magic bullet for avoiding menopausal symptoms, you can give yourself the best chance of healthy menopause by eating well and exercising more. Better still, embark on this healthy lifestyle well before you hit menopause – in other words – Hit Menopause Running (walking, exercising, and eating well).
Here’s why – The Kaboom Factor
As we age, the oestrogen that has kept us curvy and well proportioned in our younger years, starts to decrease (sadly this doesn’t mean our curves disappear, they just become more ‘convex’ than curvy). Oestrogen has an impact on both insulin (fat storage hormone) and lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL is an enzyme responsible for breaking down triglycerides (blood lipids/fats), and regulating the supply of fatty acids to tissues for either storage or energy burning. Unfortunately as oestrogen levels decrease in the approach to menopause, LPL transfers to fat cells favouring fat storage rather than fat burning, and to make matters worse as we age LPL is re-positioned from the cells below, to the cells above the waist.
I refer to this phenomenon as the ‘Ka-boomb’ factor; it’s when we start putting on weight in places and in shapes that we have never experienced it before.
But of course weight gain is only one symptom of menopause and for many, the hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, acne, and irrational behaviour, are equally as debilitating. It is very likely however, that these symptoms are exacerbated by already being overweight.
But there’s more to think about
There is another vital hormone at play that impacts menopausal and hormonal health; progesterone. All is good with the world, and our menstrual cycles, when our oestrogen and progesterone levels are in balance. As we age however, this vital hormonal synergy is compromised. As our natural oestrogen decreases, our bodies make more oestrogen, seeking and obtaining it from environmental toxins such as pollution, plastics, and processed foods. While optimal levels of oestrogen are vital to good health, in excess quantities it has a toxic effect. This unnatural increase in oestrogen causes an imbalance between these vital hormones, creating a condition known as ‘oestrogen dominance’.
It appears that both oestrogen dominance and decreased oestrogen levels result in similar menopausal symptoms! The symptoms of ‘oestrogen imbalance’ are very similar to typical menopausal symptoms; weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, bloating.
So at a time in our lives that we need to be of healthy weight, in more ways than one, our hormones are working against us!! Note however that if you are weight stable in this life stage of weight gain, you are effectively losing weight! Remember this when you think you are losing the midlife weight-loss battle.
This might help
Weight loss underpins management of metabolic disorders, with even modest weight loss shown to improve central adiposity and insulin resistance. There is no magic bullet for alleviating or avoiding menopausal symptoms however a healthy diet, one which promotes healthy weight status and enhanced wellbeing is a step in the right direction. If you are not already eating a predominantly Low Carb High Fat diet, it might be time to think about it……..
So if you think you are too young and that menopause is a distant life-stage, don’t kid yourself. Menopause will impact you one way or another, and while menopause might treat you differently to others – one thing is for sure; If you hit menopause in the best of health mentally and physically it is likely that you will manage those symptoms more effectively and may even suffer less of them…