Carrying excess weight can make menopausal symptoms worse – according to a new study.
Experts at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) studied 749 Brazilian women aged between 45 to 60.
It was discovered that women with larger BMIs were more prone to hot flushes and night sweats – a phenomenon known as the thermoregulatory theory, as the fat acts as an insulation.
Hot flushes and night sweats – also known as 'vasomotor symptoms' - cause menopausal women a lot of problems, including insomnia and a lack of confidence.
The good news is, this means losing weight can help cut down these unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
Menopause expert explains how to cope
According to Miss Tania Adib, consultant gynaecologist a menopause expert there are other ways to help ease the side-effects that come with the change. She commented: “A hundred years ago, women didn't live much past the age of 50, so the menopause was not such an issue. However, now we’re living longer it’s important we find ways to manage this time of life.”
Miss Adib, who runs a Menopause Clinic in Harley Street added: “Hormone Replacement Therapy can certainly improve symptoms, but many women don’t wish to take it, and wish to find a more natural way to manage the menopause.”
As well as losing weight, what you do eat can have a big impact on menopausal symptoms. “A healthy diet is the cornerstone of optimum health,” explained Miss Adib. “A healthy diet allows the body to adapt to the changes in the hormones over time. It's so important to eat healthy and consistently to keep blood sugar levels stable in the menopause – eating sugary foods causes huge swings in blood glucose may cause symptoms very similar to menopausal symptoms such as excessive sweating, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, tiredness, poor memory and difficulty in concentration.
Dietary strategies to help the menopause
- Oily fish
- Green tea
- Fruit and vegetables
“Foods such as tofu, soya, red clover, alfalfa, flaxseed and dandelion may help as they include Phytoestrogens - weak plant oestrogens,” explains Miss Adib. “It has been suggested that these may help lessen menopausal symptoms. Eating these foods are also associated with a lower rate of breast cancer and lower cholesterol.”
Miss Adib also points out that these foods are also eaten widely in the East – countries such as China and Japan – where menopausal symptoms are less frequently experienced than in industrialised Western countries, such as the Europe and the US. There are also far lower rates of obesity.
Herbs and supplements to help the menopause
Although herbs and vitamins have varying degrees of evidence supporting their use, Miss Adib says certain supplements may be useful:
- Vitamin D. May protect against breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis and ease inflammatory conditions
- Agnus castus. Helps with hormones
- Sage. Aids with memory.
- Ginkgo biloba. Preliminary studies show it many help memory
- Omega 3. Helps with dry skin, eyes and nails, fatigue, depression, aching joints, forgetfulness.
Exercise too will help keep the pounds off. “Put aside at least 30 minutes three times a week to exercise,” Miss Adib said. “It’s a great stress-buster - as well as helping keep your body strong, physical activity releases ‘feel good’ hormones, giving you a much-needed mood boost!”
The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods ceaseFull medical glossary