Did you know there are 53 million women (ages 40-64) in menopause today? The average age of onset for menopause is 51 and a woman will be in menopause for approximately 7.4 years.
Common menopausal symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Changes in monthly cycles
- Loss of libido
- Weight gain
Women often notice they tend to gain more weight around menopause, especially in the tummy. Hormonal fluctuations impact metabolism and how the body deals with food which often results in weight gain. If one is dealing with high stress levels then there will be increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol which causes weight to accumulate in the middle.
The role of estrogen
Studies are now finding that estrogen plays a role with controlling body weight. As estrogen levels decline, there is the tendency to eat more. Estrogen also impacts the metabolism and leads to increased fat stores and less effective blood sugar management. The lack of estrogen is also what causes vasomotor symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats.
Common nutrient deficiencies associated with menopause and linked to weight gain
Nutrient deficiencies impact the body in many ways including weight gain and bone health. Here are the most common deficiencies seen during menopause and how they impact weight management:
- Magnesium-low magnesium in cells impairs a person's ability to use glucose for fuel, instead storing it as fat. Correcting a magnesium deficiency stimulates metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity.
- Calcium-inhibits the formation of fat cells and also helps oxidize (burn) fats cells.
- Vitamin D-deficiency is strongly linked to poor metabolism of carbohydrates. Genes that are regulated by vitamin D may alter the way fat cells form in some people.
- Vitamin K-poor vitamin K status linked to excess fat tissue. Vitamin K helps metabolize sugars.
- Chromium-makes the body more sensitive to insulin, helping to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle.
Easing the transition with botanicals
There are excellent options that can ease the transition into menopause and manage symptoms naturally. Because insomnia is a common symptom during menopause and specifically linked with weight gain, great care and attention should be given to prioritizing sleep patterns. As the number of hot flashes and night sweats decreases, women typically wake less often and get a better nights sleep. The following botanical supplements help to reduce menopausal symptoms in general:
- Three Immortals-this Chinese formula is used for classic symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, mood issues and insomnia. The formula works by supporting yin and blood deficiency.
- Menobreeze-this botanical formula utilizes shatavari which is an ayurvedic herb along with more common botanicals including black cohosh, chaste berry and red clover.
Menopausal weight gain remedies
Dealing with menopausal weight gain requires a multi-pronged approach.
- Aim to make the diet 70% plant based. The phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals from plant foods will support metabolism as well as bone health, immunity and blood sugar levels. Special emphasis on leafy greens including spinach, kale, arugula, dark leaf lettuce and chard.
- Build muscle by strength training. An often overlooked piece of the puzzle, building muscle is key to counter menopausal weight gain. Incorporate weight training 2-3 days per week for at least 20-30 minutes.
- Engage in regular physical activity such as walking, biking, swimming. There is no substitute for this and will support all areas including mood, bone health, sleep and weight.
- If stress levels are high practice stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing or warm baths. This supports stress hormones especially cortisol, which as noted causes belly fat.
- Take supportive botanicals as noted above to minimize menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
- Address nutrient deficiencies like magnesium, calcium and vitamin D which will support overall metabolism.