Weight gain during the menopause
During the menopause you may become aware that you are gaining weight especially around your middle. As your ovaries produce less oestrogen, your body tries to compensate by making you fatter. Fat around the middle manufactures oestrogen and so can offset the lower levels of oestrogen produced by the ovaries.
The standard thinking is that fat makes you fat and you should therefore reduce your fat intake and buy low-fat or no-fat foods. What does the research say about low-fat diets and weight loss? The opposite of what you would think. Research has shown that people on low-carbohydrate diets had significantly more weight loss at six and twelve months than the low-fat diets.
The key to weight loss is not a low-fat diet but a low- carbohydrate diet. Not a ‘no-carbohydrate’ diet, which is unhealthy, as your body needs energy from carbohydrates, but a diet in which quality carbs are consumed in moderation.
The two most important points to follow are:
- Eliminate refined carbs e.g. sugar, white bread
- Eat little and often – every three hours
Osteoporosis, brittle bones, affects 1 in 2 women over the age of 50. Risk factors include family history, eating disorders, steroids, diuretics, long-term laxatives or antacids, low level of physical activity and smoking.
One of calcium’s roles in the body is to act as a neutraliser. When you eat too much acid food your body calls up calcium reserves from your bones to counteract the acidity. One of the most highly acid-forming substances, which cause most calcium to be leached from your bones, is animal protein, particularly in red meat.
On the other hand, plant foods, like vegetables and fruit, are alkaline. Make your diet more alkaline by having more alkaline-forming foods (fruit and vegetables) each day than acid (animal protein) and choose good quality animal protein like fish or eggs.
Watch what you drink as caffeine and soft fizzy drinks will also cause a leeching effect of calcium from the bones.
Certain nutrients can be helpful for bone health including calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc and boron (see www.naturalhealthpractice.com for good food supplements).
When it comes to bones and exercise, it is definitely a case of ‘use it or lose it’. So you need to do weight bearing exercises like walking, dancing and jogging.
As the level of oestrogen falls, the walls of the vagina become thinner and also your waterworks are affected by vaginal changes. The lining walls of the bladder and urethra (shrink and become thinner and drier and can become more liable to infection.
Vitamin C is important because it is crucial for the manufacture of collagen. You want to keep the walls of the vagina elastic in order to make intercourse more comfortable and reduce the amount of irritation and friction, which also reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
Cranberries can be beneficial because they stop bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. Using cranberry juice which is sweetened with sugar is not going to be helpful so you should either use an unsweetened cranberry juice (with no artificial sweeteners either) or better still take it in a concentred dried form as a supplement.
For more information on all these areas see Dr Glenville’s new book ‘Natural Solutions to the Menopause’.