Sarah had been steadily gaining weight around her abdomen since first experiencing hot flushes, mood swings and irregular menstruation 12 months ago. Her doctor concluded she was Peri-Menopausal (the period before completely ceasing menstruation or Menopause), and had recommended Sarah trial HRT (Hormonal Replacement Therapy) for the persistent hot flushes and night sweats; however she was reluctant to take HRT due to the possible side effects. Sarah came to me for natural health advice, and we looked at her diet and lifestyle as well as natural supplements to help ease her symptoms. After six months of following my advice, she felt more energetic, had fewer hot flushes, felt more relaxed and had lost weight around her middle which increased her body confidence and outlook on life.
So what did Sarah do to beat Menopausal weight gain and turn her health around?
First of all we looked at Sarah’s diet which was high in processed and sugary foods, as well as caffeine and alcohol. Sarah slowly substituted her highly refined diet for a more natural wholefood diet based on lean animal protein such as fresh fish and free range chicken, lots of leafy green vegetables, some fresh fruit, avocado, nuts and seeds, and some complex carbohydrates such as a small daily serve of quinoa or brown rice. She also weaned herself of coffee and alcohol which not only aided weight loss, but helped to regenerate her tired adrenal glands – an important part of the natural progression of a woman into Menopause.
Our adrenal glands are two important endocrine (hormonal) glands which sit on top of each kidney and aid our body to cope effectively with stress. When our body senses that we are experiencing a stressful event whether physical or emotional, the adrenal glands will release hormones such as cortisol which can lead to an increased insulin level, lower blood sugar and cravings for sugar food. Persistent high levels of cortisol can also lead to increased weight gain around the middle, affect sleep quality and make you feel tired and wired.
Why our cortisol levels effect Menopausal weight gain?
The adrenal glands also produce hormone precursors for oestrogen and testosterone, as well as progesterone in postmenopausal women, so it makes sense to maintain healthy adrenals during this stage of life. However if your adrenal glands are making high amounts of cortisol and DHEA due to chronic stress, they may not have sufficient material to make your other hormone precursors. High cortisol can also lead to higher body core temperature, triggering further hot flushes in order to release the excess heat.
In summary, menopausal weight gain requires a multi-faceted health approach with an experienced health professional. If you require further advice, speak to our Naturopath about how she can help you lose weight and feel great soon.