Many times menopausal symptoms are confused with symptoms of other health issues. The good news is that you can ‘fix’ these issues and end some of the suffering!
Many women are suffering needlessly because a lot of menopausal symptoms are actually confused with insulin resistance.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced specifically by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body to metabolize (process) carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from the diet. It’s necessary to move sugar from the blood into other body tissues where it is needed for energy. Cells cannot utilize glucose without insulin.
It should be noted that it’s not possible to use fat as an energy source when you have a surge of insulin in your blood. Since most of us are interested in losing belly fat, this is another reason why we need to keep insulin surges under control – you can do this by reducing your intake a simple carbohydrates (particularly in isolation without any other macronutrient like protein or fat) so to avoid blood sugar spikes.
If you are insulin-resistant these are some of the symptoms:
- brain fog
- high blood sugar
- intestinal bloating or just feeling bloated
- weight gain
- difficulty losing weight
- visceral fat storage
- increased blood triglycerides
- increased blood pressure
- increased hunger
You can do a lot to improve your insulin sensitivity.
One of the easiest ways to improve it is to always eat a bit of protein with your carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar. It’s when you eat carbohydrates in isolation that blood sugar tends to skyrocket.
Eating fat and carbohydrate together will also stabilize blood sugar, but unless you burn off the ingested energy immediately, eating carbs and fats together is a recipe for gaining fat.
The carbohydrate increases insulin levels and the fat ingested is ready to be shuttled into storage if those calories are not burned as energy. You might want to re-think your evening snacks of cheese and crackers when you consider this fact.
The primary treatment for insulin resistance is exercise and improved nutrition. For the majority of us, we can control our insulin response simply by choosing foods wisely and adding exercise to our lifestyle.
The number one reason for hormone imbalance in women over 40 is NOT menopause. It’s actually hypothyroidism. Studies vary, but some studies suggest that up to 24% of women suffer from hypothyroidism after the age of 40.
- Puffy face
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Dry thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Inability to lose weight
Your first line of defense for hypothyroidism is to go to the doctor and have your hormones checked.
You’ll want to measure blood levels of T3, T4, TSH and thyroid gland antibodies.
It’s best if you’re doing this yearly at your annual physical so that you have comparative numbers. This blood work will help to rule out the autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s disease.
Now there is a very wide range of ‘normal’ for the acceptable blood levels of these compounds. You may fall into the ‘normal’ range and still not be feeling ‘normal’. Your symptoms might still suggest that you have hypothyroidism with normal blood work, so it’s necessary that you have a good working relationship with your doctor so that you can work this through. Listen to your body and verbalize how you feel because even in the normal range you may not feel good and only YOU can determine what’s ‘normal’ for you.
No matter if you are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder or if your symptoms are strictly the result of menopause, here are some additional steps to help you:
- Reduce stress
- Eliminate BPA exposure: Look for BPA free water bottles and avoid the use of plastic food containers in the microwave. In one study, women considered ‘obese’ had 47% higher levels of BPA than women of normal weight.
- Fluoride can be problematic. Avoid tap water that contains fluoride and chlorine. Use a water filter and avoid fluoride in toothpaste.
- Some studies suggest that UV filters interfere with thyroid function so check your cosmetics and buy ones with natural ingredients as much as possible.
- Eat coconut oil to boost thyroid function.
- Eat more magnesium: coconuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and cashews.
- Increase selenium (eat 3-4 brazil nuts a day).
- Increase zinc intake (eat 3-4 oysters a few times a week), selenium also helps process any mercury in the oysters.
- Include iodine in your diet: sea vegetables, cranberries, organic yogurt, organic navy beans, organic strawberries, raw organic cheese, organic potatoes.
- Avoid goitrogens that block iodine absorption, these are found in packaged foods, peanuts, soy, soybean oil.
- Eat whole foods with minimal processing and organic when possible.
Following a nutrient dense diet, exercising and getting proper rest will not only help with menopausal symptoms, but they will also help with symptoms of hypothyroidism.
It’s extremely important that you are an advocate of your own health. Don’t blindly accept that you ‘should’ be feeling tired or worn out because you’re in your 40’s, 50’s or beyond. Your energy levels naturally decline to a certain extent, but it’s more likely that environmental causes or lifestyle issues may be the author of declining energy or health issues.
You are a smart women, you just need to pay as much attention to your own health as you would a loved one.
Also, please meet me on Facebook in a private group I’ve created called: ‘Healthy Secrets for Women 40+’ You’ll find a ton of great information there for you along with support and motivation from other women just like you.
You’ll find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Healthysecrets/