(The Beach Painting by Botero courtesy of MuseumSyndicate.com)
With bikini season fast approaching, I promised my Mom that I would post a Menopause diet summary with information that I gleaned from Master Your Metabolism. So, here it is, Mom!
The “Three Secrets” in Master Your Metabolism are important (you’ll just have to read the book!), but, there are specific things you can do that target the hormone balance after menopause to support a healthy body and metabolism.
Menopause affects the adrenal/hormone system in a number of ways. A woman’s natural (and healthy) testosterone level drops off, and her estrogen balance is thrown off as the ovaries shut down the production of estradiol.
This gradual deletion of estradiol, the ‘good’ estrogen, leaves us with a majority of estrone, the ‘bad’ estrogen that is produced in fat cells and adrenal glands. It is this bad form of estrogen, that redirects fat from our heinies and hips to our bellies.
This is a vicious cycle, as the fat produces more estrones, which in turn, cause more fat. Worse yet, the fat burning androgens (testosterone) that remain are converted to fat storing estrone by the belly fat. Yuck! So how to we help to tip the scales toward that great, fat burning testosterone, and manage the icky new form of estrogen that we’re stuck with? Read on!
Losing testosterone means that you lose your body’s natural inclination to build muscle, and muscles burn calories. Exercise raises testosterone levels, and positively affects your entire hormone system and metabolism. So definitely work at getting those 4-5 hours of moderate to serious exercise into your weekly routine.
Michaels suggests that you base your workouts on strength training, working up to moderate weights to build muscle mass. She also wants you to balance your workouts between cardio and weights.
This is the single most important step you can take in pushing your hormones back into balance. As Jillian says “Do it even if you hate it.” Reducing stress, and getting enough sleep at night are also critical in supporting your metabolism, but exercise is number one. (Dang it!)
In addition to exercising, there are foods that support testosterone. These are going to be rich in ‘good’ fats and DHEA, which is a precursor necessary for your bodies production of testosterone and estrogen. Special attention should also be given to including foods which provide Omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. This type of fat fights inflammation, help to manage blood sugar, and fights obesity.
Jillian recommends organic eggs, meat and dairy as the best sources of healthy fats. This is one area that I would take a step further, and suggest that grass fed sources are superior to even ‘organic’ grain fed sources, as they are going to be higher in nutrients than the organically farmed versions.
Eggs are one of the best food sources, as they provide a healthy dose of protein, which raises your metabolic rate as well. So, the foods you want to include are:
Eggs (organic or grass fed): high in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Salmon: (only wild caught-canned, fresh or frozen): rich in Omega 3’s, selenium for thyroid support, and also vitamin D, which helps to preserve muscle mass.
Fish Oil Supplements: (lab certified toxin free; 1.8 grams of EPA per day) increases levels of adiponectin, which reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar levels, and increases insulin sensitivity.
Note: I’ve noticed that canned salmon and even grocery store eggs have now begun listing the omega-3 content, and they can vary greatly from one product to another.
I was surprised to see that she warns against using flax seed, a healthy form of fiber, for post menopausal women. The reasons are that it is a phytoestrogen (natural plant-based estrogen), and the high fiber may further reduce testosterone levels.
To combat the rise in ‘bad’ estrogen (estrone), the focus should be to reduce the belly fat as much as possible using exercise and a healthy lean diet. Foods that inhibit estrone are as follows:
Beans and legumes: in addition to being very nutritious, beans and legumes are loaded with soluable fiber, which soaks up fat based hormones in the digestive tract, and reduces hormone saturation.
Pomegranate: (100% juice or the fresh seeds) Pomegranate blocks estrogenic activity, and has been shown in studies as a cancer preventative.
Green tea: lowers estrone levels (black tea raises it)
Apples: (organic-they are one of the worst pesticide sprayed crops…even if you wash and peel them) high in flavones, which may prevent testosterone from being converted to estrone.
Note: Our Costco sells organic apple slices in the refrigerated produce section.
Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts contain a detoxifying enzyme called indole-3 which blocks estrogen receptors on cell membranes. It’s been shown to reduce the risk of breast and cervical cancers.
Foods to avoid/limit:
Flaxseed (see above)
Caffeine: 2 or more cups of coffee (or 4 sodas per day) increase estrone levels, so limit your coffee intake.
Trans fats: found in most processed baked goods and fast foods…basically, anything that says ‘hyrdogenated’, partially hydrogenated or interesterified oils- they all causes belly fat and insulin resistance. Avoid these chemically altered/formed fats at all costs.
My notes: also avoid the following-
Phytoestrogens: (plant based estrogens) found in unfermented soy products like soy milk, nuts or flour, fennel, anise, sesame seeds, and ESPECIALLY lavender and tea tree essential oils, which not only are estrogenic, they also shut down the good androne hormones.
Xenoestrogens: (chemically produced artificial estrogens) found in plastics, and released especially when heated. Think plastic wrap, plastic food storage, etc.
Dear Mom, I think you’re beautiful, and the perfect amount of ‘soft’ for hugging. Please don’t get all skinny and ‘hard body’ on us, OK? I would cry, and be jealous too. I love you!