Reduce Your Hot Flashes By Eating Real Food

Hot Flashes

I cant keep living like this

A mother, who had been through menopause 20 years before, was telling her daughter, who was approaching menopause, what hot flashes were like. She said “you’ll learn how to do the newest mid-life dance craze…The Hot Flash…it is a striptease of sorts…there is nothing sexy about it…when you are finished you are dripping with sweat, standing naked in front of a fan and God help your man if he wants to touch you after your performance!”

But …..does it have to be this way?

To answer this question, it is helpful to first understand the anatomy of a hot flash.

Hormone imbalance causes hot flashes

Hormone imbalance between estrogen and progesterone during menopause, disturbs a part of your brain … the hypothalmus … responsible for regulating your core body temperature. With this function upset, it constantly tries to lower your body temperature even though you’re not dangerously overheating. Mechanisms like hot flashes and sweats that would normally be reserved for bringing down your temperature when you have a fever, now come into play many times a day …. even when your body temperature is within normal range and you don’t have a fever.

It may be helpful to think of the relationship between the temperature regulation function of your hypothalamus and your body, as being similar to a thermostat and a house. If the thermostat on a house is constantly changed, or someone is frequently moving it up and down, the air conditioner of the house will constantly be going on and off. This is similar to what is happening in your body; the thermostat in your brain is bouncing up and down.

Given that the regulation of your core body temperature is awry because of your hormone imbalance, your diet very possibly is causing a further disturbance in your body’s thermostat. Unless your diet consists mostly of eating real food, the food you eat is exacerbating your hot flashes. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

Your diet may also be causing hot flashes

If real food is not the basis of your diet, you are consuming a lot of processed food. Processed food is natural food that has been stripped of its nutritious, raw and fibrous elements to give it a longer shelf life. All foods in cans, plastic containers or plastic packaging are processed foods. The majority of the shelves of your supermarket contain processed food. When you fill your shopping cart, chances are that it contains mostly processed food.

Sugar is used heavily in processed foods to make them taste better. Sugar has been added to 75% of the 600,000 processed foods available in supermarkets in the US. It is found in breads, cereals, soups, crackers, hot dogs, salami and other packaged meats, juices, sodas, sports drinks, peanut butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings to name a few foods ….. not to mention cakes, cookies, candy and a Starbucks cappuccino.

Reading food labels will help you find out how much added sugar is in the foods you eat. The names of added sugar on food labels include

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • Sugar
  • syrup

There are 3 forms of sugar. The form of sugar you may consume as table sugar, cane sugar, or white sugar is called sucrose. Then there is glucose. This type of sugar comes from eating carbohydrates such as such as rice, pasta, grain, and potatoes. Your digestion process converts these foods into glucose. Lastly there is fructose. The main food source for fructose is fruit.

Your brain requires a particular type of sugar to function efficiently … glucose. Your brain functions optimally when it receives a steady flow of glucose – ie – like when your diet is based around real food – unprocessed sources of protein and complex carbohydrates. It does not function well when your diet is filled with added sugar – sucrose and forms of fructose. They cause spikes in glucose, which triggers other responses in your body to try to regulate your glucose levels. These other responses bring about a rise in body temperature. A rise in body temperature means more hot flashes.

An effective way to reduce your hot flashes is to give your brain what it needs to function efficiently … a steady flow of glucose. You do this by following a diet that is based upon real food and eliminating processed food from your diet. This will also help to re-balance your estrogen and progesterone levels, which will reduce your hot flashes even further.

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Does Menopause Brain Fog Make You Chuckle Or Does It Trouble You?

Menopause Brain Fog

Why cant I remember?

Mary said that she thought that she was losing her mind.

“Oh my god, memory loss, it is horrible. I cannot remember words. Even a word like ‘dog’ might not come to mind. I have to go through the alphabet to come up with the word. And words I’ve spelled all my life …. I spell them wrong now.”

As research reveals that two out of three women experience menopause brain fog, it is likely that you have your own stories to tell about it.

Menopause brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity. It is called brain fog because it can feel like a cloud that reduces your ability to think clearly. It means different things to different women. Here are common brain fog experiences

  • brain freeze – difficulty recalling words, names, addresses, phone numbers etc … that you know very well. Very often it feels like the information is “just out of reach” or “on the tip of my tongue”
  • memory lapses – difficulty recalling recent events
  • forgetfullness – cant remember where you left something …. could be a car, phone, glasses, keys etc
  • impaired concentration – thoughts wander a great deal making it difficult to do a task. This makes learning difficult as well
  • impaired thinking – cant think clearly. Sometimes described as feeling “woolly” in the head

You may attribute your menopause brain fog, like your other menopause symptoms, to the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body ….. and generally speaking this is true. However, there is actually much more to it than that.

Many women experience a return to pre – menopause levels of cognitive abilities, after menopause …. when hormones re-balance naturally. However, from the time you begin to experience menopause brain fog until the post-menopause time when your hormones have rebalanced, could be 10 – 20 years. If menopause brain fog isnt really troubling you, you may find it acceptable just to wait for post-menopause for your cognitive abilities to return.

However, if menopause brain fog is troubling you, there is something you can do now to help “normalize” your cognitive abilities. You may think that the way to do this is to directly address the imbalance between your estrogen and progesterone levels. Unfortunately, this alone may not restore the cognitive abilities of many women.

Unless your diet consists mainly of real food, the food that you normally eat contributes significantly to menopause brain fog. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

If real food is not the basis of your diet, you are consuming a lot of processed food. Processed food is natural food that has been stripped of its nutritious, raw and fibrous elements to give it a longer shelf life. All foods in cans, plastic containers or plastic packaging are processed foods. The majority of the shelves of your supermarket contain processed food. When you fill your shopping cart, chances are that it contains mostly processed food.

Processed food is loaded with “added sugar”. Sugar has been added to 75% of the 600,000 processed foods available in supermarkets in the US. It is found in breads, cereals, soups, crackers, hot dogs, salami and other packaged meats, juices, sodas, sports drinks, peanut butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings to name a few foods ….. not to mention cakes, cookies, candy and a Starbucks cappuccino. Reading food labels will help you find out how much added sugar is in the foods you eat. The names of added sugar on food labels include

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • Sugar
  • syrup

Excessive consumption of sugar affects the performance of your brain in a way that reduces your cognitive abilities. Your brain needs glucose to function optimally. Your body produces glucose, in the quantity needed by your brain for healthy functioning, when your diet consists primarily of real food.

If your diet consists mainly of processed food, your brain, as well as the rest of your body, is not receiving the glucose it needs for healthy functioning. A hormone in your body – insulin – is responsible for delivering glucose to your all the cells of your body….including your brain cells. When this fails to happen, your body produces increasing amounts of insulin to try to get glucose to the cells of your body. However, insulin fails to achieve its objective. This is what is known as insulin resistance. It is estimated that 25% of Americans are insulin resistant.

The prevailing treatments for menopause symptoms today, including brain fog, involves the re-balancing of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone cannot be re-balanced in the presence of insulin resistance.

A diet based on real food is the only way to treat insulin resistance. Then, when insulin does the job it is intended to do, the functioning of your brain can begin to normalize. Also, when insulin functions as it is intended to function, it helps to re-balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. To ensure the optimum balance between estrogen and progesterone, it would be advisable to get your hormone levels tested and then treat imbalances revealed in the test results.

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Your Mood Swings: Hidden Added Sugar In Foods You Eat Makes Them Worse

Mood Swings

My feelings are out of my control

How many times every day do you bounce from good mood to bad — in a matter of seconds —even though nothing in the real world has changed?

Mood swings is such a common complaint during menopause. Here are just a few comments made by women about them

  • I can go from being calm and placid to rage in a matter of seconds. Its very scary!!!
  • I snap off at everyone without warning including family, my boss & customers. Then I cry without warning
  • I’m a bitch some days and I hate that
  • I am either crying desperately over every little thing or intensely irritated by every little thing. And it can change on a dime
  • I am emotional up and down like a yo yo and if you piss me off you will get a gob full! Then the next day I’m calm
  • My mood swings are getting worse and, and I actually just want to shut myself away and cry all the time at the moment

Many women reach for food during times of extreme mood swings. Unless your diet consists mostly of eating real food, the food you eat is exacerbating your mood swings. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

If real food is not the basis of your diet, you are consuming a lot of processed food. Processed food is natural food that has been stripped of its nutritious, raw and fibrous elements to give it a longer shelf life. All foods in cans, plastic containers or plastic packaging are processed foods. The majority of the shelves of your supermarket contain processed food. When you fill your shopping cart, chances are that it contains mostly processed food.

Sugar is used heavily in processed foods to make them taste better. Sugar has been added to 75% of the 600,000 processed foods available in supermarkets in the US. It is found in breads, cereals, soups, crackers, hot dogs, salami and other packaged meats, juices, sodas, sports drinks, peanut butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings to name a few foods ….. not to mention cakes, cookies, candy and a Starbucks cappuccino.

Reading food labels will help you find out how much added sugar is in the foods you eat. The names of added sugar on food labels include

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • Sugar
  • syrup

Added sugar in the diet is the major cause of a condition known as insulin resistance.

Your body secretes insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates. Insulin breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. It also enables the cells of your body to receive glucose. Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function efficiently.

Your body can be either insulin sensitive or insulin resistant. If it is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do. If it is insulin resistant, your body will not be getting the energy it needs. Your body does not process the added sugar in food efficiently. Insulin becomes ineffective. Your body secretes increasing amounts of insulin in an attempt to energize the cells of your body, but this fails. When this happens frequently, the result is the condition known as insulin resistance.

It is estimated that 25% of Americans are insulin resistant.

Your brain controls your moods . It needs glucose to do this effectively. If you are insulin resistant, your brain is not getting the glucose it needs. The food you eat, travels down your throat and into your stomach and then has a very short trip from your stomach into your blood stream. The sugar in the food moves through your body and makes its way to your brain. You brain is happy with this shot of sugar. You feel good …..this is the sugar rush. However, it is short lived. It is followed pretty soon after, by a crash. The sugar rush and the subsequent crash is what brings about your mood swings.

As you know, all of your menopause symptoms are caused by hormone imbalance. Insulin is but one of those hormones. The hormones in your body work in concert with one another….a change in the functionality of one hormone affects the performance of the other hormones. The imbalance between estrogen and progesterone influences the effectiveness of insulin. Insulin resistance affects the balance between estrogen and progesterone. The prevailing treatments for menopause symptoms today involves the re-balancing of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone cannot be re-balanced in the presence of insulin resistance.

A diet based on real food is the way to restore insulin sensitivity and reduce your mood swings. Insulin sensitivity will help to re-balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. This will help to modulate your mood swings. To further reduce your mood swings, you would need to get your hormone levels tested and then treat the imbalances revealed in the test results.

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Why Grandma’s Menopause Was Easier Than Yours

Added Sugar

hmmmm....I dont pay enough attention to the ingredients in the food that I eat

Chances are that in your life, you have enjoyed a higher standard of living than your grandmother experienced. However, despite the fact that your grandmother may have lived through the tough times of the great depression years, followed by World War ll, she probably ate more nutritious food than you eat now. She ate more natural food than you eat. You very likely consume more processed food, more junk food and more sugar.

Unfortunately processed food has become a staple in most of our lives. It has increasingly become part our lives since the 1950s. Processed food is natural food that has been stripped of its nutritious, raw and fibrous elements to give it a longer shelf life. It has preservatives added to it, to make it last even longer. It has coloring added to it to make it look better and added sugar to make it taste better. All foods in cans, plastic containers or plastic packaging are processed foods. The majority of the shelves of your supermarket contain processed food. When you fill your shopping cart, chances are that it contains mostly processed food.

It is harder to find a definition for the term junk food. Generally it means food that is low in nutritional value, but high in caloric value. Most people agree that candy, pretzels, chips, soda, ice cream, donuts, cookies and cake are junk food. Many people would also include fast food as junk food.

The most significant difference between grandma’s diet and yours has to do with added sugar in the food that you eat. In the decade between 1950-1959 USDA says that annual per capita consumption of sugars was 109 pounds. By the year 2000, USDA said that per capita consumption of sugars was 152 pounds.

What is sugar?

There are 3 forms of sugar. The form of sugar you may consume as table sugar, cane sugar, or white sugar is called sucrose. Then there is glucose. This type of sugar comes from eating carbohydrates such as such as rice, pasta, grain, and potatoes. Your digestion process converts these foods into glucose. Lastly there is fructose. The main food source for fructose is fruit. All fruits contain fructose. Fructose can also be made from corn. This is an important fact, as you will see.

Why are you consuming more sugar than your grandma did?

Sugars are used heavily in processed foods. Sugar has been added to 75% of the 600,000 processed foods available in supermarkets in the US. It is found in breads, cereals, soups, crackers, hot dogs, salami and other packaged meats, juices, sodas, sports drinks, peanut butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings to name a few foods ….. not to mention cakes, cookies, candy and a Starbucks cappuccino. Reading food labels will help you find out how much added sugar is in the foods you eat. The names of added sugar on food labels include

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • Sugar
  • syrup

Why has sugar been added to processed food?

In the 1970s, medical researchers ERRONEOUSLY determined that the major cause of escalating cardiovascular disease (heart attack and strokes) was saturated fats in our diet….. much of which comes from the process food that we eat. Processed food manufacturers then embarked on a campaign to reduce and eliminate fat from their processed foods….hence fat free and reduced fat foods.

However, low fat food tastes like cardboard and the food industry knew it. It wouldnt sell. So what did they do? They developed an added sugar from corn, known as high fructose corn syrup (hfcs). Hfcs was sweeter than sucrose, which appealed to the sweet palate of Americans, it costs less than sucrose, and it lasts longer.

What does this have to do with my menopause?

Added sugar in the diet is the major cause of insulin resistance.

Your body secretes insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates. Insulin breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. It also enables the cells of your body to receive glucose. Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function.

Your body can be either insulin sensitive or insulin resistant. If it is insulin sensitive, insulin is doing the job it is intended to do. If it is insulin resistant, your body will not be getting the energy it needs. Your body does not process large amounts of fructose efficiently. So when the added sugar takes the form of hfcs, which is used extensively in processed food, insulin becomes ineffective. Your body secretes increasing amounts of insulin in an attempt to energize the cells of your body, but this fails. When this happens frequently, the result is the condition known as insulin resistance.

It is estimated that 25% of Americans are insulin resistant.

As you know, all of your menopause symptoms are caused by hormone imbalance – particularly imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. The way to relieve/reduce your symptoms is to re-balance those hormones. You cannot re-balance them, when the condition of insulin resistance exists. You must first address insulin resistance.
You do this by eliminating junk and processed food from your diet and basing your diet around real food. Real food does not need labels – ie – unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables. You will also improve the balance between estrogen and progesterone, if you eat real food.

A series of posts will follow soon about how sugar affects specific menopause symptoms.

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Weight Loss: Why Diet, Exercise, And Willpower Is Not Enough

Hunger Hormones

Too full to eat any more

Have you been experiencing any of the following signs?
  • weight gain around your middle
  • abdominable fat that wont shift with a healthy diet and exercise
  • low thyroid symptoms
  • sugar and food cravings
  • stress eating
  • late night eating
  • yo-yo dieting

If you have, you may be interested to learn the real cause of these signs.

Weight gain, and difficulty achieving weight loss, is primarily caused by hormones in your body known as hunger hormones, and the effects that they have on your major hormones …. insulin, thyroid and cortisol.

Ghrelin and leptin are the most important hunger hormones. They manage your appetite.

When you havnt eaten for a certain amount of time, your stomach secretes increasing amounts of Ghrelin. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry. It is the cause of your stomach growls and hunger pangs. I have already covered ghrelin in another post.

Leptin is your appetite suppressor. After a meal, leptin signals to the brain that the body has had enough to eat. Increased amounts of it are secreted from the fat cells of your body, telling your brain that you have enough energy stored in your fat cells to engage in normal metabolic processes. It tells your brain when you are full and that you do not need to eat any more food.

Of the two hunger hormones, leptin appears to be the bigger player in weight control and in the energy management of your body. It may be helpful to think of your body as a car and the level of leptin as your gas gauge. The gas gauge in a car lets you know how much fuel the car has. Leptin levels signal to your brain how much energy is stored in the cells of your body. Your two hunger hormones work together. When your brain detects low levels of leptin, your stomach secretes increasing amounts of Ghrelin to get you to eat….to replenish your body’s energy stores. Ghrelin exists to help you to maintain an appropriate level of energy in the cells of your body.

One expert on hunger hormones considers leptin to be the king of hormones. Dr Jack Kruse, a neuro surgeon and a leading researcher of the bio-chemistry of the body, says that leptin controls all energy production by regulating all the hormones in the body. He says leptin

controls all the other hormones in the body as well. So if it is not working well you can bet that the rest of your hormones are going to show clinical problems as well.

This will be the subject of another post.

Recent research has found that 80% of weight loss attempts fail….people fail to achieve weight loss that is permanent. This is not due to a poor diet program, although many of them are bad. It is not due to the lack of exercise, although exercise is certainly a necessary part of permanent weight loss. In many cases, it is not due to a lack of willpower, although in some cases it is.

The way in which your hunger hormones work together, explains why it is so difficult to lose weight permanently. If you go on a diet, you will reduce the number of calories you consume. This results in fat loss. Fat loss reduces the level of leptin, as leptin is in your fat cells. With a fall in your leptin level, your stomach secretes increasing amounts of ghrelin. This stimulates your appetite…you feel hungry. The more fat you lose on the diet, the hungrier you will feel.

With due respect to your level of willpower, there is a limit to how long you will go, before you satiate that hunger. This is why people regain weight after dieting.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to manage your hunger hormones. The good news is: if you’ve failed at diets in the past, it was likely because you failed to regulate your hunger hormones and doing so can help you finally make lasting changes. I will discuss how to do this in another post.

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Ghrelin: A Hormone That Makes You Feel Hungry

Hunger Hormones

I'm starving

I dont know about you …. but a hormone that stimulates my appetite is not of great interest to me. My appetite is more than healthy. However, I sure am interested in a hormone that could help me curb my appetite.

We have hormones in our bodies that stimulate our appetite and curb it. They are known as the hunger hormones….ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry, while leptin makes you feel full. The two are interconnected. You cannot derive the benefits from leptin, without understanding ghrelin and how it works in conjunction with leptin.

Ghrelin is the hunger hormone generated in your stomach. It tells you that you are hungry and that it is time for you to eat. You will be familiar with ghrelin as the “stomach growl” or the hunger pang you experience, when you have gone too long without food. It is thought to have served humans well, protecting us from famine for millions of years. In times of famine, this hunger hormone kept us focused on finding food to survive. Ghrelin also helped us to survive during famines, by causing fat to be stored in our abdomen.

Now ghrelin is thought to play a significant role in obesity. Because people are not familiar with its existence and how to regulate it, they have high levels of it. This stimulates their appetite, causing them to eat more food than their bodies require. Ghrelin, along with other hormones, causes the body to store excess food, as abdominal fat.

Ghrelin levels increase prior to meals and decrease after meals. Research suggests that ghrelin responds to your “normal” meal times – meaning the times when you normally eat your meals. If you are accustomed to having lunch at 12PM and circumstances have conspired for a later lunch, ghrelin levels will be high from 12PM until you eat. If you were accustomed to eating 5-6 small meals a day and you change your eating pattern to eating to just 3 meals a day, ghrelin levels will rise at the previous meal times. It is thought that it takes approximately 2 weeks for ghrelin to adjust to a change in eating pattern.

The two hunger hormones – ghrelin and leptin – are interconnected. I will cover leptin fully in another post. However there is an interconnection between ghrelin and your body’s major hormones – cortisol, thyroid and insulin.

In the presence of stress, your body produces increasing amounts of ghrelin, as well as cortisol. When stress is chronic, as it often is during menopause, excess levels of cortisol affects the functioning of your entire body, often resulting in the conditions of insulin resistance and hypothyroid. Stress is associated with eating. Higher levels of ghrelin stimulate your appetite, and you will eat more. High levels of cortisol, like high levels of ghrelin, causes fat to be stored around the mid-section.

A study has found that high levels of ghrelin slows your metabolism. This means that ghrelin interferes with the functioning of your thyroid hormone. A less than optimum functioning thyroid is associated with weight gain.

Both hunger hormones have a significant influence on the functioning of insulin. Ghrelin levels are high during times when your body is getting a reduced amount of food, like when you are dieting to lose weight. The decreased amount of food, brings about a drop in insulin levels, because the amount of insulin released depends on the amount of food you have eaten. The low insulin level causes a rise in ghrelin, which makes you hungry and you makes you want to eat.

Sleep patterns affect the levels of your hunger hormones. Your ghrelin level is low when you have a good night’s sleep. It is high when you dont sleep well. A study found that sleep deprivation was associated with an increase in the level of ghrelin, appetite, and hunger, when compared to a ten hour sleep. By and large, women do not sleep well during menopause. A sleep survey of 900 menopausal women showed that 79 percent of them said that they have trouble staying asleep, and 63 percent struggle just trying to fall to sleep. If you are experiencing disturbed sleep, your ghrelin level will be high.

What does all of this mean to you? If you want to lose weight or keep your weight from going up, you dont want to have high levels of ghrelin. You will have to learn how to manage the levels of hunger hormones in your body. I will discuss how to do this in another post.

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Hunger Hormones: What Do You Know About Them?

Hunger Hormones

I never heard of hunger hormones

Chances are that you are more familiar with hormones now, than at any previous time in your life….because menopause is all about your hormones and the affect that their changes are having on you.

I would be surprised, if a menopausal woman was not familiar with estrogen and progesterone. But did you know that your body produces more than 60 known hormones….and that new hormones are being identified regularly?

Every physiological process in your body, that is responsible for all of your physical, mental and emotional experiences, can be attributed to one or more hormones. Hormones are messengers that tell the cells in the different parts of your body what to do. They are like software programs, directing your bodily processes. Eating is a bodily process. It should not be surprising then, that there are hormones that send a signal to your brain that you are hungry. Nor should it be surprising that there are hormones that send a signal that you are full.

There are two groups of what are referred to as hunger hormones. Broadly speaking, one group of hunger hormones signals to your brain that you are hungry; the other group of hunger hormones signals that you are full. The most important hungry hormone is called ghrelin. The most important satiety (condition of being full) hormone is called leptin.

These hormones work in conjunction with a part of your brain – the hypothalamus – that receives signals that control hunger and satiety. The hypothalumus contains a cell that is your hunger cell. It also contains another cell that is your satiety cell. When you feel hungry, ghrelin is produced by your stomach and travels to your brain, where it turns on the hunger cell and turns off the satiety cell. When you feel full, leptin is produced by the fat cells of your body and travels to your brain, where it turns on the satiety cell and turns off the hunger cell.

These hunger hormones have a significant influence in weight management. Weight management is a topic that most menopausal women are interested in, as

  • 90% of menopausal women gain some weight during menopause and many women gain a great deal of weight
  • there is a tendency for women to continue to gain weight after menopause, because your metabolism slows. After age 30, metabolism slows by about 2% per decade, thanks to a loss of muscle mass. We lose as much as 50% of our muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 90, and the rate of loss is especially pronounced from ages 50–70. We tend to lose 1/2 pound of muscle a year after the age of 30. After the age of 60, this muscle loss doubles. As we lose muscle mass, we gain weight in fat

In a recent post I discussed the interdependency of the hormones in your body – particularly the major hormones thyroid, insulin and cortisol. Ghrelin and leptin have a significant impact on the functioning of these hormones.

In my next posts, I will discuss these hunger hormones in more detail and the affect that they have on the functioning of the major hormones of your body. I will also discuss what you can do to manage ghrelin and leptin to prevent weight gain and even lose weight.

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Pear To Apple Body Shape – Part 6 – How To Lose Stomach Fat

Apple Body Shape

I'm eating well and exercising .... but I cant shift the stomach fat

OK….so maybe your body didnt exactly look like J lo’s prior to menopause, but looking back on it now …..I would bet that you would gladly have your pear shaped body back now.

Most women experience a change of body shape during menopause. Women are generally pear shaped up until menopause. During menopause, your hormones start to fluctuate and change. Basically, estrogen decreases by around 35% and progesterone decreases by around 75%. Both hormones decrease, but the balance changes. This condition is known as estrogen dominance. The change in ratio between these two hormones, disturbs the balance between them and thyroid, insulin, and cortisol, which are hormones that regulate major functions in your body. As a result, these hormones function less than optimally. This disturbance has been responsible for the change from a pear to an apple body shape.

The less than optimum functioning of thyroid, insulin and cortisol, causes your body to produce and store fat. Estrogen determines where that fat is stored. Prior to menopause, it causes fat to be stored on your thighs, buttocks and hips. After menopause, it causes fat to be stored in and around your mid-section….giving you an apple body shape look.

As the change in your body shape is caused by hormone imbalance, the first step to take to halt the storage of fat around your waist is to get your hormones tested. Hormone tests reveal the treatments that will re-balance your hormones. While you are taking these treatments, you can expedite the re-balancing of your hormones by adjusting your diet, according to the hormone deficiencies revealed by your tests.

If you do not re-balance your hormones, neither diet nor exercise can help you to lose your apple body shape.

Dietary advice for estrogen dominance

The general dietary advice to help you to lose your apple body shape that is triggered by estrogen dominance is

  1. stay away from processed foods
  2. try to eat organic food as much as possible
  3. eat lean meat and poultry
  4. eat fish a couple of times a week
  5. eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  6. eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta products

The specific advice is that there are foods that help to help remove excess estrogen from your body and thereby fight hormone imbalance. These include

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all contain a chemical called DIM, a compound that naturally binds to estrogen and removes it from the body
  • Citrus fruits – they contain flavonoids that help regulate hormones

Specific dietary advice for under-performing thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)

Thyroid requires 2 crucial minerals to carry out everyday functions….iodine and selenium. Some iodine rich foods for hypothyroidism include iodized salt, seaweeds and seafoods, salt water fish, sushi, nori rolls, and Celtic sea salt. Some selenium rich foods for hypothyroidism include meat, chicken, salmon, tuna, whole unrefined grains, Brazil nuts, dairy products, garlic, and onions.

Specific dietary advice for insulin imbalance (insulin resistance)

  1. Stay away from processed foods (refined carbohydrates) and sugary foods. They cause your blood sugar levels to surge, which triggers insulin secretion
  2. Eat foods that take time to digest. They allow for a more gradual, gentler rise in insulin levels. These foods include foods with higher fiber content such as whole grain breads and brown rice, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, carrots, and greens, fibrous fruit like berries, apples, pears and citrus fruit, and lean protein like fish, skinless chicken and turkey, and lean meat

Specific dietary advice for high cortisol

High cortisol levels are caused by stress. You can reduce your level of stress by regularly doing a stress reduction technique like yoga, meditation etc.

However, the cells of your body can experience stress as a result of the way you eat. If you do not eat often enough, your blood sugar levels will fall. When this happens, your body secretes cortisol. To prevent this from happening, eat something every 2-3 hours. Have a small to moderate sized breakfast, lunch and supper. In between each meal have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or nuts.

Certain foods have been found to lower cortisol levels …. foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin c. Some foods rich in Omega 3 are salmon, halibut, almonds and walnuts. Some foods rich in vitamin c include citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.

To lose stomach fat and your apple body shape, it is essential that you also do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, while making the necessary dietary adjustments.

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Pear To Apple Body Body Shape – Part 5 – Hormone Tests

Apple Body Shape

I've tried diet and exercise....but it is not shifting my stomach fat

I dont know about you….but I do not like to be told that there is nothing I can do about an unwanted condition. When I am told that by an “expert”
  • I refuse to believe it
  • it is my view that the “expert” does not have a solution for my unwanted condition
  • I will leave no stone unturned in my search for an expert who may have a solution for my unwanted condition

If your body shape has changed from pear to apple during menopause, there is something you can do about it.

The change from pear to apple body shape during menopause, is caused by a change in the balance of your hormones. The two main hormones that bring about all menopause symptoms, including weight gain around your waist, are estrogen and progesterone.

Prior to perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your reproductive system healthy and functioning. During perimenopause, the ratio of estrogen to progesterone increases. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone. This then disturbs the ratio between them and other major hormones – in particular insulin, thyroid, and cortisol. The disturbance of the ratios between these hormones is the reason your body shape has changed from pear to apple.

Doesnt it make sense to you that if hormonal imbalance has brought about your apple body shape during menopause ….. that if you were to re-balance these hormones it could re-adjust your body shape?

The primary hormonal changes, in terms of importance and sequence, were those of estrogen and progesterone. This brought about the condition known as estrogen dominance. The concept of estrogen dominance was expounded by Dr. John Lee, a Harvard educated medical doctor. This concept found that menopause symptoms are caused by too much estrogen, relative to progesterone. The solution is to reduce the amount of estrogen or increase the amount of progesterone.

This solution is in opposition to the thinking of conventional medicine, which preaches that menopause symptoms are caused by insufficient levels of estrogen. The favored treatment advocated by conventional medicine is HRT, which increases the levels of estrogen in a woman’s body – to replace the estrogen lost during menopause. Increasing numbers of gynecologists have embraced the concept of estrogen dominance and are treating their patients accordingly …. Dr Christianne Northrup is probably the most well known one.

Estrogen dominance has affected your thyroid gland. It causes your thyroid hormone to function less efficiently. It also has affected the levels of insulin and cortisol in your body. These changes have increased the amount of fat stored on your body, which has contributed to your apple body shape since menopause.

Apart from the part it plays in estrogen dominance, estrogen has contributed to your apple body shape during menopause in several ways. It has many functions in your body. One of those functions is helping your body to manage fat. Prior to the onset of menopause, it helped your body to breakdown fat and dispose of it. The fat your body required, was deposited below the waist…..resulting in a pear body shape. As estrogen levels fall during menopause, less breakdown of fat and less disposition of fat occurs and the fat that used to be deposited below your waist is now deposited around your waist.

Before you can reverse the apple body shape you acquired during menopause, you need to know the levels of each of the hormones I have discussed in this post. I recommend that you begin with a free online hormone assessment. One is available here.
After you answer the questions, go to Woman’s Answers for an evaluation of your answers. It recommends specific hormone tests to take according to your answers. Another free hormone assessment is available here. After completing the assessment, you will get instant access to your hormone profile and recommendations for hormone tests to do.

You can do the hormone tests with either of the above sites. Alternatively you can ask your doctor to arrange for the tests. Here is a directory of labs that do hormone tests in the US. It is important to have the test results interpreted by a hormone expert.

Once your test results have been interpreted, you can remedy the hormonal imbalances that have caused your body shape to change from pear to apple.

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Pear To Apple Body Shape – Part 4 – Cortisol

Cortisol

My belly just keeps growing

Ever been in this situation…..feeling stressed by everything and everyone…..then eating food like it will disappear from planet earth tomorrow…..then feeling and looking fat and bloated…..then feeling stressed about feeling and looking fat and bloated?

Maybe this is an extreme scenario that applies to a minority of menopausal women, but the relationship between stress and eating is something that we all experience to some degree.

What does this have to do with your body shape changing from pear to apple, during menopause?

I do not have to tell you that menopause is a stressful time. You already know that. The stress is caused by hormonal imbalance during menopause.

Your hormones work in harmony for most of your life…..until menopause. They are said to be balanced. During menopause, the balance is disturbed. It begins with falling levels of estrogen and progesterone, which disturbs the balance between these two hormones. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. This changes the ratio between them. There is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone. This then disturbs the balance of the major hormones in your body….thyroid, insulin, and cortisol….throwing the performance and functioning of the major systems of your body out of sync. This is the cause of all your menopause symptoms and it can result in long term mental, emotional, and physical stress, putting you and your body under a tremendous and continuous stress load.

In previous posts, I discussed the affect that the imbalance between estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and insulin has on body shape. For the remainder of this post, I will discuss the affect that cortisol has on body shape during menopause.

Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body to maintain homeostasis ….. your body’s ability to physiologically regulate the functioning of all of its parts, to maintain stability. Specifically, it helps your body to manage blood pressure levels and your immune system, as well as reducing inflammation.

Cortisol is probably best known as the stress hormone. At times of stress, your body produces increased amounts of it, to provide you with the energy you need to deal with the stressful situation. It is known as the “fight or flight” reaction. Once a perceived threat has passed, cortisol levels will drop, your heart rate and blood pressure will return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when stress is continuously present, as it often is during menopause, your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in an overexposure to cortisol, that can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. It causes fat to be stored around your waist.

Cortisol is responsible for much of the weight gain that women experience during menopause

  • It stimulates an increase in appetite to provide you with energy to deal with the stress
  • Excess amounts of it causes insulin resistance
  • It causes hypothyroidism
  • Estrogen helps to control the amount of cortisol your body produces. Falling levels of estrogen during menopause means less control of it

These factors lead to increasing fat storage in and around your midsection and results in an apple body shape.

The good news is that there is something you can do to manage your body’s production of cortisol. If you regularly do yoga, meditation or some other practice that reduces stress, your body will not produce as much of it.

However it is important to bear in mind that your body is a holistic system. Its parts are interdependent……ie excessive cortisol leads to insulin resistance, but insulin resistance causes your body to produce more cortisol. If you reduce the amount of cortisol your body is producing, but dont rebalance the other hormones, you may … or may not … lose weight and fat from around your mid section.

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