Find out how to maintain health and fitness during menopause and which foods are better to give up, and which should be added to your diet.
It is believed that with the achievement of a certain figure, the fair sex tend to change weight. Is it so? And if so, is it possible to fight it? Niki Williams is an award-winning nutritionist, founder of Happy Hormones for Life and author of the book “It’s Not You, it’s Your Hormones — a basic guide for women over 40 to fight fat, fatigue and hormonal chaos” – told Express.co.uk about why women often gain weight during menopause and what can be done about it.
Niki reported that it really becomes more difficult to avoid fat deposits with age: “Women experiencing perimenopause and menopause are more prone to insulin resistance and weight gain. This is due to metabolic changes associated with fluctuations in the adrenal glands, thyroid gland and sex hormones, as well as increased difficulty in tolerating carbohydrates. This may be due to a slower metabolism, an increase in the ratio of fat to muscle, less activity or more stress, we simply cannot cope with carbohydrates as before. As we age, our thyroid hormones can become less effective, and this can slow down our metabolism, which makes it very difficult to lose weight.”
The nutritionist also explained why excess deposits are often concentrated in the waist area, saying: “An increase in stress in middle age, as well as a change in hormonal background can increase cortisol levels, and this can lead to the formation of belly fat, which is very difficult to remove. When estrogen levels decrease, the body switches production to the adrenal glands and fat stores. A small amount of excess fat is good for the body to get extra estrogen, so it can try to keep it.”
You can correct the situation by changing the diet. The nutritionist recommended to women going through menopause a healthy diet that they can follow to maintain an optimal weight. “Unfortunately, there is no universal diet for all women, but I am convinced again and again that food can change your health,” says Niki Williams. — And the same goes for hormones and the transition to menopause. Hormones need a constant flow of nutrients for them to work effectively. Without the right nutrients, your menopausal symptoms can get worse, and your natural instinct is to fix things quickly with the wrong foods, which will make the situation even worse. We need to start paying more attention to the nutrients in foods, not just calories.”
Williams advised women over the age of 40 to limit the amount of sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and alcohol consumed, adding: “In addition, limit or avoid any foods that cause bloating, fatigue, headaches or any other symptoms that you notice after consuming them. The main culprits include gluten and dairy products. Try to give them up for three to four weeks, and then re-introduce one product at a time and pay attention to how you feel.”
So, it is better to get rid of products that irritate the body, but what can replace them? Niki described a simple way to make the perfect plate with healthy food. “Fill your plate with vegetables by half — the more colorful, the better,” advises the nutritionist. — These are healthy carbohydrates that supply your hormones with a lot of plant nutrients, and are also great for intestinal bacteria. Focus on the cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, white cabbage, kale, chard, arugula. These vegetables are especially useful for removing excess hormones through the liver.”
The specialist recommends not to forget about the right fats. “Good healthy fats are important during menopause,” Williams notes— “You need them to produce hormones, absorb fat-soluble vitamins and maintain stable blood sugar levels so that you don’t feel hungry between meals. The best fats to add to your diet include coconut oil, olive oil, [butter] grass-fed oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish.”
But the right sources of protein will help regulate the balance of sugar in the blood, normalize hormones, restore energy at the expense of muscles and bones, contribute to the detoxification process). “Give preference to good quality meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, nuts and seeds,” says Niki.
Well, the last life hack from a nutritionist is to refuse snacks between meals). “It just stimulates the production of more insulin. Try to leave four to six hours between meals — this encourages your body to use up sugar reserves and start burning fat for energy,” Williams explained.