GP talks about the impact of the menopause on weight gain
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Throughout the average woman’s life, their weight fluctuates, but never more so than when they reach menopausal age. Express.co.uk spoke to Shona Wilkinson, a Registered Nutritionist and ambassador for DR VEGAN’s MenoFriend supplement about a possible correlation between menopause and weight gain, and she gave some useful advice for anyone over 45 looking to lose a few pounds.
Why do women put on weight as they get older?
Shona said: “Changes in hormones can have an effect on our weight, this can result in weight gain, especially around the middle.
“Older women are generally less active than when they were younger, this can lead to a reduced energy expenditure and a loss of muscle mass.
“Menopausal women also frequently have higher fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance, which drive weight gain.”
What is menopause?
Shona explained: “Menopause is officially when you have not had a period for 12 months.
“If you have symptoms but still have a period, then you are perimenopausal.
“Women’s menstruation starts to slow down and then stop, this can be a magical time for a woman as she gains relief from childbearing and moves into a different stage of her life.
“Unfortunately, menopause is not often viewed as such a positive transition; currently there is a trend to favour the values of youth over the values of the age.
“Some believe that this view can affect a woman’s experience of the menopause making it more likely that she will experience a ‘painful’ menopause.
“It is important to be aware of this and to find ways to embrace this time of your life, one way you can choose to do this is by seeing it as a time to look at your diet and lifestyle and updating them. Through this choice, you may experience a new lease of life and way of living that helps you feel more alive than ever.”
She continued: “A woman stops ovulating when she has no eggs left to ‘ripen’, when she stops ovulating her periods will stop and she will experience a decline in oestrogen levels.
“This decline in oestrogen levels occurs because as an egg develops it produces oestrogen, if there is no egg to develop then this source of oestrogen will cease.
“It is these changes in a woman’s hormones that can cause the various symptoms of menopause.”
What symptoms does menopause present?
Shona commented: “It’s a bit of a never-ending list and varies substantially from person to person. However, the most common symptoms are listed below.”
Fatigue, sexual dysfunction, hair thinning, facial hair, headache, dry skin, joint pains, bladder
infections, urinary incontinence.
How does menopause affect a woman’s weight? Is there an average weight gain during menopause?
Shona replied: “During menopause, low oestrogen levels promote fat storage in the belly area as visceral fat.
“Fluctuations in oestrogen, progesterone and other hormones can lead to an increased appetite and fat gain as a result during menopause.
“It’s estimated that women gain about two to five pounds during the perimenopausal transition.
“Another factor contributing to weight gain in menopause may be the increased appetite and calorie intake that occurs in response to hormonal changes.
“Levels of the ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin is found to be significantly higher among menopausal women.”
How can a woman lose weight when experiencing menopause – are there certain diets to follow or exercises to do?
Shona said eating a diet rich in phytoestrogens can be beneficial.
“Food contains plant chemicals called phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens) that act as a weak oestrogen in the body. So, if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms (because of a sudden decline in oestrogen) phytoestrogen can be used to prevent these symptoms.”
Ways in which you can increase phytoestrogens in your diet:
Lignans – vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, spices and seeds (especially fax seeds)
Isoflavones – spinach, fruits, clovers, peas, beans (especially soya)
Flavones – beans, green vegetables, fruit, nuts
Chalcones – liquorice root
Diterpenoids – coffee
Triterpenoids – liquorice root, hops
Coumarins – cabbage, peas, spinach, liquorice, clover
Acyclic – hops
To add to a diet rich in phytoestrogens, Shona said: “Reduce your intake of carbs to help reduce the belly fat.
“Make sure you are getting enough fibre in your diet.
“[And] when you exercise, make sure to include weight training to help with your bone density.”
What other changes to the body does menopause bring?
Shona revealed: “There is an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and bone density.
“The menopause can also bring benefits. It can bring with it a feeling of more confidence and assertiveness.
“You are living for yourself now and should take the time to put yourself first for once.”
What’s one piece of advice for anyone experiencing menopause right now?
Shona concluded: “Don’t see it as a negative thing. See it as an opportunity to put yourself first and take care of your mental and physical health.”
DR VEGAN’s MenoFriend is an acclaimed blend of clinically tested botanicals, minerals and phytoestrogens to relieve the most common symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain, night sweats, fatigue and brain fog.
With 19 naturally sourced and plant-based ingredients including Dong Quai, Red Clover (providing Isoflavones), Wild Yam, Maca Root and B-Vitamins, MenoFriend® helps regulate your hormone activity to support a healthy mood, energy, sleep and skin every day.
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