Dr. Leila Kaikavusi is a GP, specialist in menopause and founder of the UK’s first online menopause clinic, the Online Menopause Centre. She spoke to Express.co.uk about what happens to the body when it goes through menopause, and how women can live a healthy lifestyle when they reach a certain age.
Dr Kaikavusi explained that as women enter menopause, which is around 51 in the UK, according to her, “many physiological changes occur”.
And she continued: The female hormones have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease, dementia, osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases.
“As levels drop at menopause, the diagnosis of some health conditions becomes more prevalent.”
Menopause also makes it easier for women to gain weight.
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Dr Kaikavusi said: “In menopause, due to lower levels of the female hormone, the metabolic rate slows down.
There is also a decrease in muscle mass which leads to a lower metabolism.
“This plus some food intolerances or allergies that can occur at this point make it easier for women to gain weight.”
So how can a middle-aged woman start to lose weight, or maintain the shape she was in before menopause?
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According to Dr. Kaikavusi, “The significant and lasting decrease in female hormones, as well as the common increase in cortisol levels, play an important role in the weight gain process in older women.”
“So, the same diet that would have helped with weight loss in the past may not work around the time of menopause,” she said.
Women need to work to lower their cortisol level.
“Cortisol is an adrenal hormone known as the stress hormone and it can inhibit sugar metabolism.”
“Women can begin to lose weight by increasing their physical activity, reducing alcohol intake and fatty and sugary foods, reducing stress levels and paying attention to their sleep,” the doctor continued.
“Women should consider a more plant-based diet as they enter menopause.
“Good fats like nuts, avocados, and oily fish — mackerel, sardines and salmon — help balance hormones and benefit heart and brain health.
Stomach acid can diminish with age, leading to difficulties in digestion and the emergence of food intolerances.
“It is therefore beneficial to incorporate natural probiotics such as fermented foods — kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut — into the diet.”
There are some areas of the body that gain weight easier and faster than others, and one of these areas is the waist area.
To reduce belly fat or weight that collects around the waist, Dr. Kaikavusi recommended increasing physical activity and paying attention to the types and amounts of food you eat.
She advised doing “cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, brisk walking, swimming and cycling”.
“There should also be fewer processed products, animal products, sugars and simple carbs, and more plant and complex carbs and good fats,” the doctor added.
“Alcohol is also high in calories, but it is a nutritionally empty drink and intake should be kept to a minimum.”