Women, weight gain, and menopause; Part three – hormones, inflammation, and the food we eat!

 

Women – take back your lives!

I cannot believe the number of women I’m running into who are truly interested in finding ways to manage and counter the symptoms of menopause. Much of what we experience in our bodies during menopause is regional. What does that mean, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It means that in the US, 75-80% of all women report variations of symptoms related to menopause; hot flashes, weight gain, moodiness, joint pain, etc. Here’s the kicker – only 23% of women in Thailand and 17% of women in Japan report the same symptoms. In the Mayan culture, there are no known words to describe menopause and virtually no one complains of the associated symptoms (Alexandra Epple).

Just stew in that news for a few minutes.

Many of the “typical” symptoms of menopause here in the Western world, or the extent to which they manifest, are global. The habits and lifestyle in the Western world dictate our experiences. Mahatma Gandhi once said:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

Back in 2011, I wrote an extensive paper in graduate school that presented and juxtaposed various evolutionary theories on menopause. In re-reading that paper, I am reminded of my original thesis that argued that there are “multigenerational, environmental, ecological, and cultural considerations” (Miller 2011) to menopause and its symptoms. My thinking has not changed. We physically manifest our habits; how we behave (stress and overwork), how we move our bodies (exercise or the lack thereof), and what we consume (food and other products, including technology) all impact the expression of menopausal symptoms.

Well, that got a little deep, didn’t it?! It’s interesting that an anthropological deep dive into menopause simply brings us right back to what we already intuitively know. WE are in the driver’s seat. WE determine how we behave. WE decide whether we exercise regularly or not. WE decide what and how much we eat. I’m sorry, but it really is that simple. Do your habits support you?

I promised a little on inflammation in the body related to how and what we eat so here I go. Our pancreas produces insulin when we eat. When we eat the crappy Standard American Diet (SAD – funny acronym, don’t you think?) of “low-fat, highly processed, and refined foods, the pancreas keeps pumping out more and more insulin. This excess of insulin functions as a pro-inflammatory substance. Eventually we become resistant to all this excess insulin in our blood” (Zoom Heaton – Is There a Connection between Hormone Imbalance and Inflammation). Here’s the most terrifying and disturbing part of the inflammation discussion – if we continue to eat the SAD which causes excessive insulin in the body and therefore inflammation (and pain, by the way), the brain ages which may lead to Alzheimer’s’.  Stop the freaking bus….I want to get off.

Women (and men), take back your lives! If you want to learn more, and if you want to learn how and what to eat to lessen your menopausal and mid-life symptoms, sign up below to receive my regular blog posts with tips for improving your life through habit change. In January, I’m leading a 4-week (in-person and on-line) course on Intermittent Fasting. Beginning in March, I’ll be leading an 11-week Healthy Habits program which can result in a huge evolution in the ways that you approach your life and your lifestyle.  It’s cool to read all you can about how to age healthfully and gracefully, but if you don’t act, as Ghandi said, your habits will become your values, and your values will become your destiny.

Women, TAKE BACK YOUR LIVES!!!! Namaste!

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