Menopause and weight gain

Menopause and weight gain


Menopause is the term used to describe the stopping of menstrual periods due to decreased ovarian function. The decrease in ovarian function involves the progressive decline in the secretion of oestrogen and progesterone, which causes ovulation (egg release) to eventually stop. Menopause usually occurs around the age of 50, although women may experience menopause as early as the age of 40.
The transitional phase that occurs when a woman passes out of the reproductive stage before menopause is called climacteric menopause or perimenopause.

Women in the menopausal age group experience weight gain, although many studies indicate that this is not a direct result of menopause or taking hormone replacement therapy, but rather as a result of other factors such as decreased physical activity and alcohol consumption.

The menopausal phase of life is associated with overall weight gain, an increase in central abdominal fat and a decrease in lean muscle tissue. Some studies have found that hormone replacement therapy may have a role in preventing the increase of central abdominal fat, which is often experienced by women of menopausal age.

Being overweight or obese are key risk indicators for hypertension, heart disease and Type II diabetes.
Abdominal fat is linked to a much higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high levels of fats (lipids) in the blood.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
Weight gain and increase in central abdominal fat are preventable through regular physical activity and/or exercise and decreasing calorie and fat intake.

DIET HINTS
• Eat a variety of nutritious foods including wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables and legumes and fruits.
• The diet should be low in fat (particularly saturated fat), sugar and salt.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Remember that as you age, your metabolism slows down and you require approximately 200 to 400 fewer calories per day.
• Your body is more likely to store excess food as fat, so it is important to eat small meals throughout the day when you are active.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
• Fibre supplements have a mild appetite suppressing effect and help to improve digestion. Having a healthy diet and using a daily fibre supplement e.g., psyllium hulls, is a healthy way to work towards achieving ideal weight.
• Taking a calcium supplement is important for menopausal women on calorie restricting diets. Restricting calorie intake can have a negative effect on bone density in menopausal and post-menopausal women.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. See your Doctor before commencing a programme of vigorous physical activity. This is especially important for people who have been inactive, those who have heart disease or a history of heart disease in the family or those with other medical conditions.
3. Your Pharmacist can answer any queries you may have regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy.
4. Adequate fibre in the diet is necessary to ensure proper bowel function. Ask your Pharmacist about fibre supplements such as psyllium and slippery elm powder.
5. Your Pharmacy stocks a range of weight control supplements which, when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, may help you to maintain a healthy weight.
6. If your diet is inadequate, consider some nutritional supplements.