"I have never been as fat as I am now!" It is a common miserable cry from women in their early 40's or approaching 50's. Despite drastic calorie cuts from a healthy diet, vigorous exercise and a keen eye on the bathroom scale: cellulite riddled thighs explode outward, a belly pooch protrudes below the button, fist-fulls of fat bulge at the hips... Women around the globe at peri-menopause (about 42) and menopause (about 50 years) decry the unrecognizable reflection in the mirror. They feel their body has betrayed them and the unstoppable freight train of weight gain can be overwhelming.
The majority of women gain at least 2.5 kg around the time of menopause. Many can pile on the pounds to even greater degrees. It is not uncommon for a woman weighing 55 kg at 49 years old to balloon to over 70 kilograms before she is 55 years old! Hormones can be a cruel, cruel adversary.
Menopause and weight gain. Your metabolic story.
As reproductive hormone levels drop, it is common for women to become 'Estrogen dominant' - that is to say, the relative levels of estrogen to progesterone and testosterone cause a myriad of symptoms including tiredness, lack of libido, insomnia, weight gain, cellulite and of course hot flashes (personal summers) and night sweats.
Not all estrogens are equal; we have good, bad and really ugly estrogen! Good estrogen (2-OH metabolite) is what makes us pretty: glowing skin, lush hair and perky breasts. Bad estrogen (4-OH) is not great, but our bodies can neutralize if the liver & gut work well. The ugly ((16-OH) is responsible for growths in the body including cysts, fibroids, breast lumps and deposits of fat. Both 4-OH and 16-OH are linked with certain forms of cancers so it is important to have a robust elimination channel to excrete these as fast as possible!
Estrogen also competes with normal thyroid function so not only is your body making more fat (estrogenic compounds in fat cells multiply fat cells) your metabolism is slowing too! Symptoms of sub clinical hypothyroidism include very dry skin, calluses on the heels despite foot care, course hair (you will be wondering if your shampoo and conditioner has changed on you), you may feel tired, depressed, your libido has gone and constipation is becoming a more frequent issue. Weight gain at menopause is almost 100% guaranteed and losing THIS kind of weight is very difficult:
What is the Way Out from this Weight Gain World?
1. Stop 'Banting' or "Keto" or any other high protein diet! When your body is in this kind of endocrine storm you will actually GAIN weight on these programs.
2. Optimize your gut health. Ridding your body of excess estrogens (particularly 4-OH and 16-OH metabolites) is crucial. Fiber will not only reduce constipation, but it is elemental in drawing 16-OH Estrogen out of the body into the large intestine for elimination from the colon. The sweeping broom like effect of a high fiber diet is essential for quick and easy elimination.
A woman needs 25 - 30 grams of fiber daily. The standard western diet has just 8 grams of fiber per day.
3. Support the liver which needs to be in prime condition to metabolize estrogenic pathways as we want. The liver appreciates B-vitamins (particularly choline). Milk Thistle is an herb known to support the liver's detoxification processes. The liver also finds a 'rest window' (intermittent fasting with a good 16 hour fasting window overnight) ideal.
4. DIM (diindolylmethane) is a compound commonly found in cruciferous vegetables including:
DIM supplements appear to help adjust the hormone estrogen. A few clinical trials have shown that it supports healthy estrogen levels, lowering the risk of certain cancers and diseases like lupus that are linked to estrogen. It effectively promotes good 2-OH estriol and blocks the carcinogenic 16-OH pathway of estrodiol.
5. Iodine. People with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions are more likely to have problems with estrogen dominance. A possible reason? Iodine deficiency is a root cause of both.
Iodine has several functions in the body: it scavengers and binds to Estradiol (the strongest of the estrogens, and responsible for most of what we think of as “estrogenic” symptoms, both in PMS and in menopause. Under the wrong conditions, it can be metabolized into 16-Hydroxyestrogen (16-OH), which is carcinogenic. Iodine helps to maintain the estrogen balance in favor of estriol - shown to protect against estrogenic cancers, decrease the risk of fibrocystic changes in the breasts, and can even help women with estrogen-related weight changes to drop the extra pounds.
A client dropped 2 bra sizes after supplementing with iodine. Estrone (dirty estrogen) is a 'growing' estrogen, causing rapid fat deposits on the hips, thighs, belly and breasts.
Iodine is also one of the key nutrients required for the formation of thyroid hormone. A deficiency of it can lead to goitres (the large swelling in the neck over the thyroid), hypothyroidism and cretinism in children born to mothers with severe deficiency of this mineral. Iodized salt in the diet was implemented to curb gross iodine deficiencies prevalent in populations at high altitudes and far from the ocean where iodine is abundantly available.
6. Natural Progesterone Cream available in good health shops. Produced from soya beans or wild yam, this is applied topically (on the skin) where it is absorbed into the blood stream and acts as a bio-identical progesterone hormone. It is a natural antagonist to estrogen so helps to reduce dominance of estrogen in the body. It has an anti-depressant action (raises serotonin), supports healthy thyroid function and enhances sleep.
7. Beat Stress. As the gonads naturally wind down and hormone output drops, the adrenals pick up the slack and produce progesterone, testosterone and estrogen as required. However, if a person is in a constant state of stress, cortisol levels skyrocket and the adrenals cannot provide the backup they were meant to. De-stressing emotionally is just one aspect of adrenal support: cutting junk from the diet in the form of sugar (possibly the BIGGEST contributor to metabolic distress), GMO foods, pesticides, herbicides and steroid filled meat, chicken, eggs and dairy products is also important.
8. The Mediterranean Style Diet has proven the most effective in combating the effects of estrogen dominance. The bulk of calories consumed come from low carbohydrate vegetables which are prepared raw or 'crunchy' cooked; plant fats are abundant (olive oils, avocado's, nuts and seeds) and proteins in the form of meats, chicken and seafood are portioned as a delicacy item rather than the feature ingredient on the plate.
9. Laser Lipolysis Endermologie/ VelaShape Massage with Oxygen Ozone Therapy. Infrared laser combined with ultrasound therapy targets sub-dermal fat deposits causing a process of lipolysis (break down of fat cells). Endermologie/ VelaShape massage serves to promote blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The combined process achieves visible reduction of cellulite and pronounced fatty deposits on the hips, belly, back and arms. Oxygen Ozone offers a detoxing steam sauna experience with the addition of oxygen ozone which has a therapeutic effect on various metabolic systems. Find out more
Weight loss is impossible when hormones are in disarray. A functional doctor will prescribe bio-identical hormone therapy based on blood tests to re-align progesterone, estrogen and testosterone in the balanced ratios they require. Be very wary of synthetic estrogen based hormone therapies which can RADICALLY worsen symptoms if not managed correctly. You know your body best, you will know what feels right - and you will know when a medication is making your condition worse.
Recovering your body and your sanity may take longer than you would hope, but it is achievable.
If you would like to book a full hormone profiled consultation, please WhatsApp Rae 0n 076 698 9994