Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Why do women gain weight after menopause?

Weight gain after menopause is a common observation, even in women who are slender pre-menopause. There are many reasons for the weight gain.  The change of life where the reproductive years of a woman end, means that the ovaries will reduce dramatically its production of sex hormones and hand this job over to the adrenals to do it.  The adrenals do not make quite as much hormones as the ovaries do.  As fat cells are little endocrine organs, a body hungry for estrogen can make more fat cells to get more estrogen.

For women who have had a rough adrenal ride pre-menopause, (stressed, busy and tired) having the adrenals take on the additional burden can mean more cortisol and more weight gain in the abdominal area.

At menopause, the levels of progesterone also drop.  A drop in progesterone can affect water balance and fluid retention.  So clothes can feel tighter, ankles can be puffier and the rings don’t tend to slip in and out so easily anymore!  Some of post menopausal weight gain can be water and not fats.  Running body composition tests like the Bioimpedance Cellular Health test is useful to identify what the body composition and cell quality is.

With hot flushes and night sweats, women often complain of disrupted sleep which makes them fatigue during the day.  This can result in more food intake to combat the tiredness, which can result in weight gain.  Bad food choices can result in more weight gain. Mood swings can affect motivation to keep active and maintain a regular exercise routine.  Exercise improve the production of endorphins and insulin sensitivity which are crucial to maintaining a healthy appetite and curb cravings.

What can you do about it:

  1. Eat foods that contain phytoestrogen like soy and alfalfa.  Studies done on Japanese women who consume a high quantity of soy, in soy sauce, miso and tofu find that these women do not typically have menopausal symptoms.
  2. Use herbal and nutritional supplements that will help balance estrogen and progesterone, including black cohosh, vitex, bupleurum, rhodiola and withania.  However, due to the effects herbs have on the body, it is not advisable that these herbal supplements be taken long term without monitoring.  Please seek the advise and help of a health care professional trained in herbal medicine. 
  3. Practice yoga and meditation.  Yoga is calming as well as strengthening, which is a great balance for this time of life.  Reduce stress, give support to the adrenal glands.
  4. Practice high intensity interval training at least 3 times a week.  If you have a favourite sport, like tennis or netball, keep yourself active and maintain a routine for exercise.
  5. Avoid alcohol, soft drinks, fruit juices and sugar.
  6. Consume a diet high in vegetables, adequate amount of protein for your activity, and plenty of water.
  7. Have enough good fats from avocado, raw seeds and nuts, cold water fish and olive oil.
  8. Do an AMY1 test, to see how much carbohydrates you can tolerate in a day.  We offer this test.  Ask for it if you are interested.

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