Oestrogen is the name of a group of hormones that we produce in the ovaries until menopause.
These hormones contain estrodial which is the strongest and the main source of oestrogen until menopause, estrone which is less potent and estriol which is weak and which we have in abundance particularly in pregnancy.
Oestrogens are the essence of women. They transform girls into women. They help control menstruation and pregnancy. They, amongst other things, help regulate body temperature, help you sleep, support collagen in your skin, help your memory, concentration and bone density and help keeps your mood positive. Oestrogen also protects you from cardiovascular disease and assists in the production of serotonin the feel good hormone.
When women go into the menopause the ovaries stop producing oestrogen.
Now you can see why so many women suffer with side affect of oestrogen withdrawal
So we know Estradiol is the primary source of oestrogen until menopause, then what happens?
The body switches to Estrone as its source. Estrone is produced in the adrenal glands and your FAT cells. Your body will produce more fat cells to produce more Estrone. Your body will also protect these fat cells as it needs them to produce Estrone. So when you hit menopause you tend to gain fat.
You are fighting against your bodies own physiology when you try to lose this fat. Your body will even break down protein tissue ie. muscle rather than use its fat for energy.
We need to keep and gain lean muscle tissue in menopause to keep the metabolism fired up.
This means resistance training. We need this for three reasons.
1. You need to keep using up your glycogen stores in your muscles so when you eat you don’t lay down fat.
2. The more lean muscle you have the higher your metabolism will run.
3. You look better!
Insulin also rises when Estrone rises. Too much insulin in the system leads to insulin sensitivity and potentially type 2 diabetes and all the associated health risks. Insulin resistance means your body cannot deal with excess sugars in your blood (carbohydrates). The body will store the excess sugars as fat. The more fat you have the more Estrone you produce and so the cycle continues.
Stress causes cortisol levels to rise in the body. Your body perceives any stress on the body as a stressor not just the ‘I feel stressed at work’ stress. For example your body sees the reaction caused by irritants to the body, like processed food, as a stress. High cortisol levels will also add to the fat bank as high cortisol levels will affect your digestive system and ultimately your body will lay down more fat.
If you are peri menopausal and want to lose weight do it NOW!! Do not put if off because it is so much harder when you hit the menopause. It is not impossible to lose weight but it will be much harder. Remember that early menopause is much more common that it used to be. You may think you have lots of time but do you really know that? There are no guarantees.
Even if weight loss isn’t a goal follow the suggestions below for you own health and vitality.
- You have to clean up your diet. You need to remove all processed foods, dairy, alcohol, sugar and wheat. This may sound extreme but you need to ‘re-boot’ your system. All the banned foods play havoc with your hormonal systems. These foods need to go for 30 days before you can systematically re-introduce some foods.
- Ensure you consume adequate and regular amounts of protein. Vegetarians may well struggle with this as they tend to eat higher carb to protein ratios and will need to very carefully regulate their daily intake. The average woman needs at least 75g protein a day spread throughout the day. More if exercise is done or there is a low body muscle to body fat ratio. Muscle burns fat as its energy store. Soya is so important as it provides the basic nutrients for the body to make oestrogens, hence why many women taking high levels of soya don’t suffer from the typical menopausal symptoms. The Japanese do not have symptoms of menopause and this has been proven to be the high levels of soya they consume through the day and their lives. Tofu, soya milk, miso soup all count.
- Get to bed and asleep by 11 pm at the latest at least 5 nights per week. This will help keep your cortisol levels in check.
- Eat plenty of red onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetable like broccoli. These contain Indole 3 Carbinole nutrients which are great for detoxifying.
- Add resistance training to your routine.
- Reduce the amount of carbohydrate that you eat and cycle them so you have higher carbs one day and low for two days
- Drink passionflower, camomile or tulsi tea in the afternoon and evenings to help reduce cortisol levels.
There is no one fix for fat loss. By making these changes you will not only help your weight loss but you will look and feel amazing and most importantly you will be looking after your health.
Written by Inez Robinson