Hormones, Nutrition and Exercise - Surviving Menopause

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Follow these tips from our very own experts, Susan McInnis MS Windham Pilates, Noreen Gallo, MS RD Your Forever Nutrition, and  Elisa Mercuro, D.O Sparkle Health, on changing your health habits to decrease symptoms of menopause.

Despite all the physiological changes, menopause should not be viewed as a sign of impending decline, but rather a wonderful beginning of a good health program including lifestyle changes in diet and exercise.

Women can naturally reduce the severity of common symptoms associated with menopause, such as weight gain, low energy and hot flashes.

 

Menopause as defined by 1 year after the final menstrual period:

  • Average age is 52
  • Transition period lasts 4- 8 years

Symptoms mostly occur the year before and the year after the final menstrual period:

  • Length of cycles vary
  • Skipping periods
  • Hot Flashes
  • Irritability- Risk of Anxiety and Depression
  • Sleep disturbance

NUTRITION

What we eat cannot change the fact that we are going through menopause, but it can change the way we feel while it is happening.

Blood Sugar

Stable blood sugar lessens mood swings, improves energy and helps control CRAVINGS!

As for tips on surviving menopause, it is important to start your day with some healthy fat and protein, pair your carbohydrates with a fat and/or protein, and avoid going long periods of time between feedings.

Focus on becoming aware of how your body responds to different foods. Typically, low glycemic foods are digested and absorbed slowly and have less impact on blood sugar.

Options: Sweet Potatoes, Veggies, Oats, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Legumes, Lentils, Chickpeas, and Kidney Beans

Try a Mediterranean Food Plan

* Food Plan NOT a Diet – Emphasis on whole foods*

  1. Rich in produce, whole grains, plant-based protein and healthy fats: 
    • Cold Water Fish
    • Avocado
    • Nuts and Seeds
  2. Limit processed foods high in sugar and sodium – Low sodium on the label is less than 140 mg
  3. Monitor how your body responds to caffeine

EXERCISE

Studies show weight gain after menopause is more likely in women who are sedentary than physically active women.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes, lower blood pressure, improve lipid profiles, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent weight gain. Exercise improves sleep and alleviates anxiety and depression in menopause transition. It helps improve body composition changes associated with the transition and reduces risk of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease).

Strength Training

Research shows strength training helps with bone density, while improving your metabolism. Weight bearing exercises and strength training stimulate the increase in bone mineral density in adolescents, young adults and pre-menopausal women.

Weight Gain

Weight gain and increased waist circumference are associated with menopause. This can be prevented with long-term dietary and physical activity intervention.

Reconsider Your Diet: 

  • Living foods (yogurt, fermented foods)
  • Eat a variety
  • Avoid Antibiotics when possible
  • Consider probiotics (Gut bacteria influences our weight)

Stress

Adrenaline causes heart racing, rise in body temperature, flushing and often can exacerbate or raise the intensity of hot flashes.

Try:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Rest and relaxation

SLEEP

  • We must prioritize sleep / 7-8 hours optimal
  • Reduce light at night
  • Bedtime ritual
  • Cool room
  • Reduce exposure to EMF
  • Consider botanicals or other supplements to support sleep

Hot Flashes

Research has shown that a relaxation-based method with paced respiration significantly reduces objectively measured hot flash occurrence. With this in mind, programs that encourage focused relaxation and breathing, such as yoga, may be beneficial for reducing hot flashes.

 

If you are interested in learning more about controlling menopause symptoms or have any questions, contact the studio at (603) 505-4449 or email susan@windhampilates.com.

 

Source: The following information is based on the panel discussion presented at Windham Pilates on February 12th on Hormones, Nutrition and Exercise- Surviving Menopause.

Elisa Mercuro, D.O Sparkle Health

Noreen Gallo, MS RD Your Forever Nutrition

Susan McInnis MS Windham Pilates

Susan McInnis