Menopause is the ceasing of menstruation related to the natural decline in women reproductive hormones. It is signaled by 12 months following last menstruation and mostly experienced during ages 40s and 50s.
Menopause is a natural process of aging and cannot be cured. That being said, the primary focus is treating associated symptoms and consequences of lost reproductive hormones.
Common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances. There are additional concerns related to bone loss, depression, anxiety, and weight gain. Common nutritional recommendations may prevent or combat against some of these consequences.
Dr. Caroline Cederquist, founding weight loss physician behind BistroMD, knows the importance of nutrition for post-menopausal women!
Menopause and Nutrition
Nutrition for menopause can be something women can easily neglect, especially if hot flashes and mood swings take over. However, good nutrition can ease these symptoms.
For instance, consuming low-glycemic foods may stave off hot flashes, mostly by keeping blood sugar levels moderated. Replacing added sugar and high-fat foods with fresh fruits and vegetables likewise reduces hot flash symptoms.
A healthy diet can reduce the risk of weight gain and consequent frustrations, too. Weight gain is often the consequence of insulin resistance, a common condition amongst pre- and postmenopausal women. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose enter the body's cells to use as energy. If insulin resistant, also coined "metabolic dysfunction" (or the MD Factor), the hormone is unable to be used effectively.
People with insulin resistance have difficulty shuttling glucose into their cells, which essentially causes the cells to feel deprived and starved. The cells become quite desperate for fuel, which in turn causes them to send "I'm hungry!" signal to the brain. Food is often reached for to fulfill this hunger, which essentially increases calorie intake and the risk for added weight gain.
To make matters even more problematical, insulin also acts as chemical messenger that signals the liver to hold onto glucose. So rather than glucose being released in the blood, it is stored as fat for later use. This function makes it more difficult to hold onto weight rather than shed it off.
Losing Weight with Insulin Resistance
The link between insulin resistance and weight can be quite complicated and frustrating. While weight loss can help reverse insulin resistance, losing weight with insulin resistance can be challenging.
However, losing weight is not out of the question. A diet moderated in carbohydrate can defend against insulin resistance and weight gain. Lowering carb content helps keep blood sugars stable and minimize the amount of insulin being released. This in turn helps the body burn fat mass more effectively.
Vitamin D paired with calcium supplementation has shown to slow the rate of weight gain in postmenopausal women. But vitamin D and calcium are also extremely valuable beyond the scale.
Calcium & Vitamin D Intake
Most aging individuals are at risk for bone loss, senior women especially. Medically known as osteoporosis, weakened bones raises the risk of falls and painful injuries. To lessen bone loss risk, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is encouraged along with weight bearing exercises.
"Our bones are actually composed of amino acids and protein, and we need calcium in order to fill in the matrix. With an effective balance of protein and nutrients, women will be encouraging more optimal bone health."
"Post-menopausal women need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day to maintain optimal bone health," says Dr. Cederquist. "Calcium is needed for healthy bone development, and it is best to obtain it through diet or supplement as needed."
Recent medical studies have shown, though, an overabundance of calcium in some women can lead to heart attack. Such incidence is not something unheard of by Dr. Cederquist in her years of clinical experience, either.
This is where the significance of vitamin D shines, as it assists in calcium absorption and transporting the mineral to bones. "Vitamin D is critical in moving calcium to bones. If vitamin D deficient like most women are, the calcium taken in will actually move into arteries instead of into bones. This can lead to a heart attack." says Dr. Cederquist. "Most women need 600 IU of vitamin D per day."
Diet After Menopause
Weight loss is a simpler process if hormonal and metabolic processes are running smoothly and efficiently. And people without insulin resistance lose weight easily, or at least easier than ones with insulin resistance. What's more, the hormonal changes can even throw the best of eaters into a weight-gaining tailspin!
Fortunately, bistroMD offers a menopause plan to lose the weight and feel (and eat) great. This is all without the added stress of grocery shopping and meal preparation! Besides, mood swings may instigate emotional eating, increasing the risk of overeating on rich carb, sugar, or fat sources.
The bistroMD menopause plan is moderated in net carbs to stabilize blood sugars. Net carbs are essentially the carbohydrate with most impact on blood sugar, as fiber is non-digestible and bypasses the bloodstream.
Meals on the menopause plan provide an average of 25 grams of net carbs. They are also rich in lean protein, a nutrient important for weight loss, and balanced with healthy fat. Members have the option of EATS (essential and tasty snacks), which supply 15 or less net carbs. Enjoying the meals and snacks every three to four hours further helps stabilize blood sugars and curb cravings throughout the day.
BistroMD meals are crafted by seasoned chefs using only the freshest ingredients! They are free of unwanted fillers and ingredients, including trans fats, artificial colorings, MSG, chemical fillers, nitrates, added sulfites, or aspartame.
Also offering 200 recipes and a customizable menu, there is always a find something to satisfy personal taste buds. Featured meals include beef steak and ale stew, jerk spiced chicken with mango chutney, and grilled salmon with dill mustard sauce. (Just to name a delicious and nutritious few!)