MENOPAUSE and Weight Gain - The Players
A woman is officially in menopause when she does not have her period for 12 months. At this time, when our oestrogen levels decline, can be a challenging time for some, coping with a variety of symptoms e.g. night sweats, hot flashes, dry skin, thinning hair and weight gain.
What many do not know is that menopause can affect how well our thyroid functions; in fact studies have found that oestrogen levels, which decrease at this time, may have a direct influence on the thyroid.
Oestrogen hormones can play a role in the growth, regulation as well as overall function of the thyroid gland1. This is also one of the reasons why menopause, thyroid, and our oestrogen levels have a complicated relationship, and it may explain why many of the symptoms of low thyroid function mimic some of the symptoms of menopause; in fact it would appear that each condition has an adverse effect on the other. Did you know that "by the age of 50, one in every twelve women has a significant degree of hypothyroidism"3.
So what can we do to support our bodies when oestrogen levels decrease?
In menopause the adrenal gland takes over the production of the hormones oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone, but we live in a world that creates stress on every corner wearing out our poor old adrenal gland! And an overtaxed, exhausted adrenal gland can't do its job, it can't take over the production of oestrogen and other hormones like it should leading to weight gain, foggy brain, and thinning hair etc. Another thing to consider is the effect of stress on our 'get up and go' hormone cortisol, as the stresses of our modern life styles increases so does our "get up and go" hormone and too much and too long an exposure to this hormone slows down the function of the thyroid gland which is already impacted by low oestrogen levels! You can see how this could become a complicated relationship.
Therefore it makes sense that if we want a smooth symptom free menopausal transition where we do not have to struggle with unpleasant symptoms we must appreciate the importance of looking after our adrenal glands before, during and after this significant change in our lives2. Appreciating this puts us well 'on the road' to a place where we can feel alive and invigorated.
Things that help support our adrenal glands:
- Exercise like Yoga, Pilates, walking.
- Deep breathing techniques
- Salt (Celtic, Himalayan) make sure to use judiciously if you have blood pressure issues.
Foods that are rich in B vitamins, especially B5 as the adrenal gland wont function properly without it. Some choices are beef, tuna, oats, turkey, brazil nuts which have the added benefit of being high in selenium, bananas, potatoes, avocados and legumes.
Foods rich in vitamin C: This valuable vitamin supports adrenal gland function, as well as immunity, cardiovascular health and skin. High amounts of vitamin C are stored and used in the adrenal glands and during times of stress the levels drop more quickly. Foods such as citrus fruits, berries, peaches, mangoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spring greens and tomatoes are high in vitamin C.
Foods rich in tyrosine: Tyrosine aids in adrenal function by relieving excess stress on the adrenal glands. Sources of tyrosine are found in most meats and vegetables particularly chicken, fish, whole grains, oats, dairy, avocados, bananas, legumes, nuts and seeds4.
To recap, menopause is a time when our oestrogen levels decrease, this in turn can have an effect on our thyroid gland, we describe the thyroid gland as the 'Queen' of the body so if the thyroid gland is affected so are many other body systems. The solution can be quite simple, or more complicated as everyone is different. For more information please contact Vurv clinic.
1. Journal of thyroid research 2011 May 4
2. Naturopathic Doctor News & Reviews, "The Relationship Between Adrenal Function and Menopausal Symptoms".
3. Very well health "What's the link Between Thyroid Disease and Menopause?" Richard and Karliee Shames.
4. Foods That Heal Adrenal Glands by Lori Anderson Crave (livestrong)