Perhaps the most challenging aspect of menopause, for women, is weight gain. Women who never gained a pound since high school suddenly find themselves thick in the middle and puffy in the face. Of course, not every woman gains weight but we do see a high incidence and for the women who do gain weight, I write this up.
Besides the fact of aging, this dramatic shift in appearance is challenging for women, no longer feeling attractive and slumping with poor self esteem and possible embarrassment.
It’s an aspect of culture’s unfairness that men are out there looking for younger women while their wives and many middle-aged women are making the best with what they’ve got.
In 2012 there was a large study carried out by the International Menopause Team affirmed that, with menopause, hormonal shifts change the distribution of body fat, making it more likely to accumulate in the abdomen, which can increase risk of heart disease and insulin resistance.
In 2013, the May clinic looked at this closely and observed that at a cellular level, there are two enzyme that store and synthesize fat ,which are more active in post menopausal women. I couldn’t find a name for the enzymes but, hopefully, science with explore which enzymes tame these enzymes down so they no longer sabotage many women’s guts.
It is facts that as hormone activity decreases, as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, all healthy hormone activity slows and so does metabolism.
For this reason, there was another study published in 2012 n the journal titled, Menopause. 17,000 postmenopausal women were involved. They were not taking any hormone therapy. One group was watched as they continued their diet of typical American fare while the second group was put on a diet of healthy foods, such as more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A year into the study, the women who had been following the healthier diet were three times as likely to lose weight and had fewer hot flashes.
In a further study on this phenomenon, 535 premenopausal women followed a low calorie diet of about 1300 calories a day and burned 1000 to 1500 calories weekly through physical activity.
These women continued this study for 5 years and saw greater reduction in their waistlines
These studies point to the fact, that, due to a shift in hormones with menopause, metabolism does slow down. In order to maintain our health and waist size, it’s best to make some changes too – in diet and exercise style.
Our bodies function most efficiently with less stress and more TLC. As we get older, we have the opportunity to drive this lesson home!
Ref:NY Times 29 March 2014
3 things you can do to help to create comfortable hormonal transitions
I meet women everywhere who, under their breath, laughingly ask, what can I do for menopause. Menopause is the marking of time when a woman is no longer able to bear children. Why is it that, when men go through their middle age crisis, it relates to sports cars and younger women and when women go through menopause, it's not something easily talked about? Menopause is a phase women go through, when they need to balance themselves in a new way, with different focus. An easy menopause is the mark of harmony in health for years to come. It's an opportunity for renewal, a new beginning. When a woman experiences difficulties with menopause, their health issues usually began some years before this transition, but were not attended to. Often these same women did not have a smooth transition through puberty and in their later years, their hormones have not improved in health. There could have been menstrual issues, digestive discomfort, anxiety or simply too much stress. All these issues affect the vital force of the body, or the qi.
How Can I help you?
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs help to regulate the discomfort of menopausal symptoms and help a patient balance herself with a new sense of well-being. Acupuncture can help a woman transition through this time, holistically, as it regulates the whole body, systemically and helps a woman harmoniously adapt to change. Chinese herbs can relieve a woman of signs and symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, memory loss, low back pain, digestive issues and restless sleep. The endocrine system is a network of glands, which produce various hormones. The ovaries produce estrogen, the thyroid produces thyroxin, and the adrenals produce adrenaline, the pancreas produces insulin, etc. With menopause, hormones are still being produced, but at a slower rate. Since these hormones are responsible for various physical responses, such as diet, energy, blood sugar balancing, metabolism, libido, etc., women experience menopause as a major change in life. To replace one hormone, such as progesterone, is to address some of these changes but just a small part. It doesn’t address the whole picture. There are also extreme side effects from these HRT’s such as breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
What can you do?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer great relief for the signs and symptoms of menopause and the various stages of hormonal changes. The biggest change we can choose at any stage of life is to be aware of how we push ourselves, how we force or exert their energy beyond our comfort zone. When we experience fatigue, our body is adjusting and healing itself. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are a wonderful adjunct for rejuvenating and energizing our strength to move through these shifts with grace. This may be where the idea of growing wise as we age, comes from. When we to learn to relax and let go and let life be, then menopause will be a healthy transition to a more peaceful mindset and a happier, more relaxed outlook on life.
Besides exercise and a healthy diet, here are 3 more things you can do for yourself as you start this transition:
1. Drink a ‘green drink’ everyday and preferably, wheat grass or barley grass. I use a product called Nano Greens, which I also sell or you can get powdered wheat grass in many health food stores. Amazing grass is a good one or essential greens.
Here’s the reason I recommend green drinks: anything green can relax and nourish the liver. The liver is the storehouse for the blood. According to Western science the liver has 200-300 functions, which can be measured. That does not include all that we don’t know about the liver.
One of the many functions it does have is it helps to regulate the hormones in the body as it cleanses the blood. A key hormone the liver regulates is estrogen. This is why liver cleansing becomes popular for menopausal women who are overweight. They are always asking me if they should clear out their liver.
With menopause, we are not producing enough progesterone to promote activity in the body. This is why helping the liver to cleanse, with greens, stimulates cleansing activity, clearing unnecessary estrogen, which builds up and creates cysts etc. as progesterone production slows down. Rather than simply clearing the liver with liver cleansing herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion. I am offering an alternative, which provides nutrients for the whole body.
You don’t want to simply cleanse, you also want to nourish. That is a very important aspect of liver health, which is often overlooked.
People do the same thing with intestinal health. They want to cleanse, but with out the proper probiotics to line and protect the intestines, cleansing is only part of the job. The same is true with the liver. It needs to be cleansed as well as nourished with greens
2. Support the adrenals.
In times of hormonal transitions, especially with the stress most of us live with at this time in life, it is vitally important to support the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands kick in as the ovaries slow down to a stop. With this extra stress, the adrenals tend to get tired. This imbalance in the endocrine system creates an imbalance in the rest of the endocrine system. You often see the pancreas and metabolism slowing down which can cause the thyroid to speed up.
This imbalance in the endocrine system creates many complications such as digestive issues, insomnia, night sweats, weight gain and many other side effects associated with menopause
3. Eat a warm and balanced breakfast. Many people say they don’t have time for breakfast. I know about that and also about not liking breakfast foods. When I found out how important it is to eat a good breakfast I asked everyone I knew what he or she ate for breakfast. I didn’t feel the value of eating eggs but ice cream – yes, I loved ice cream for breakfast. That's how I learned about the value of a good breakfast -- by meesing up first!
The breakfast meal balances the blood sugar for the whole day. When you eat a good protein breakfast, the rest of your day will be more stable. This will help your cravings for sweets and blood sugar rises and falls, which throw us out of balance.
The Chinese recommend eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. This is a great plan for any of you who are trying to lose weight. Eating protein in the early and middle part of the day provides energy for the long haul.
Eating a warm meal satisfies the stomach, as it is easier to digest hot foods. The stomach functions better with hot meals. Think about going to a Chinese restaurant. You are always served warm tea, not ice water. Ice water stings the delicate stomach tissue. Cold constricts. The stomach constricts. With warmth, the stomach relaxes and releases the digestive enzymes necessary to digest your food. Your digestion runs smoother this way.
These are just a few things you can do to make your transitions smoother.
Enjoy yourself and enjoy your day!
For more information on hormone regulating in menopause see my blog at:www.acupunctureenergyworks.com/Treating Menopause 2014 Update