As women approach the milestone of menopause, they often find themselves facing a myriad of changes, both physical and emotional. One common concern that arises during this transitional period is weight gain. In this blog, we will explore why weight gain is prevalent during menopause, how the reduction of oestrogen plays a role, and dispel the myth that Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) contributes to extra pounds. Moreover, we’lland prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
The Menopausal Puzzle: Oestrogen’s Role in Weight Gain
The hormonal rollercoaster that is menopause is primarily characterized by a reduction in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen, the hormone responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, also plays a crucial role in metabolism and body fat distribution. As oestrogen levels decline, several changes occur in the body that can contribute to weight gain.
- Metabolic Slowdown: Oestrogen helps maintain metabolic rate. As its levels drop, metabolism tends to slow down, making it easier for the body to store excess calories as fat.
- Fat Redistribution: Oestrogen influences where fat is stored in the body. During menopause, there’s a shift in fat distribution from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. This centralization of fat is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases.
- Muscle Mass Reduction: Oestrogen has a protective effect on muscle mass. As its levels decline, there’s an increased likelihood of muscle loss, which further lowers the overall metabolic rate.
Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) and Weight Gain:
Contrary to popular belief, Menopause Hormone Therapy does not inherently lead to weight gain. In fact, MHT can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings, making it easier for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Holistic Approach: Diet, Exercise, and Overall Health
Instead of relying solely on hormonal interventions, women navigating menopause should adopt a holistic approach to maintain their health and prevent associated risks.
- Balanced Diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats. Reducing your alcohol consumption is also advised with abstaining at least twice a week and consuming no more than 14 units a week.
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity is crucial for managing weight, preserving muscle mass, and supporting overall well-being. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is ideal.
- Bone Health: Osteoporosis is a common concern during menopause. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, along with weight-bearing exercises, can help maintain bone density.
- Heart Health: Cardiovascular disease risk increases post-menopause. Adopt heart-healthy habits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and avoiding tobacco.
- Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with healthcare providers to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and bone density.
- Stress Management: Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain and negatively impact overall health. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises into your routine.
As we step into the new year, let’s prioritize our health during perimenopause and menopause. Dispelling myths, understanding the role of estrogen, and adopting a holistic approach encompassing diet, exercise, and overall well-being are essential steps in managing weight and preventing the onset of conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Embrace this opportunity to make a resolution for improved health and well-being, navigating the menopausal journey with confidence and vitality.