Weight gain is one of the most frustrating aspects of menopause. It is becoming increasingly clear that the typical western diet may be creating hormone imbalances during this period. Studies have shown that women who have a higher BMI tend to have more severe vaso-motor symptoms (hot flashes, heat palpitations, and sleep disturbances) during perimenopause.
The good news is that acupuncture herbs and a Mediterranean-style diet are very effective at restoring your balance, controlling insulin, and getting rid of those unwanted pounds.
A recent landmark study has shown that a low glycemic, anti-inflammatory, mostly plant-based diet that focuses on whole foods, good fats, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is anti-aging and good for your hormonal health.
Asian women rarely experience hot flashes, probably because their diet contains large amounts food rich in certain plant estrogens called "phytoestrogens." A healthful source of phytoestrogens are "lignans," compounds found in a variety of whole foods including grains and cereals, dried beans and lentils, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and peanuts, vegetables such as asparagus, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic and broccoli and fruits such as pears, plums and strawberries.
How Insulin Affects Hormones
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy that your body burns up or stores as fat. Excess insulin increases the amount of male hormones circulating in the blood and also amplifies the effects of these hormones on all the cells
To make matters worse, insulin insensitivity contributes to weight gain, especially in the belly area, and insulin insensitivity makes it harder to lose the weight. These set-up a negative feedback system as belly fat excretes hormones that make you feel hungry—causing you to eat more and send insulin levels even higher.
Promising studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in both reducing insulin levels and helping you lose weight. Combining acupuncture with diet and lifestyle changes is a very effective way to reach a healthy weight and get your hormones back in balance.
Whole foods are foods that are in the state that Mother Nature made them (the apple versus apple juice), minimally processed, and refined as little as possible before being eaten. Whole foods provide maximum nutrients, fiber enzymes, antioxidants and taste without added artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, sweeteners or trans fats.
Slow carbohydrates are a group of carbohydrates that are slowly digested, causing a slower and lower rise in blood sugar after being eaten. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, and most fruits. Eating slow carbs helps to minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, balance fertility hormones, and prevent diabetes.
Plant-based foods include a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that counter inflammation (a common cause of infertility) and nourish your reproductive system.
A plant-based diet means that most (but not necessarily all) of your diet is based on plant foods. In addition, we recommend deep water fish such as salmon twice a week, grass-fed beef or bison (no more than two or three times per week), and free-range poultry and eggs. Depending on your diagnosis, you may also enjoy small servings of organic whole-fat dairy—including yoghurt or your favorite cheese.
Healthy fats and oils are those that are pressed naturally from whole-plant foods (coconuts, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives) and short-lived, deep sea fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel. Healthy fats combat cellular inflammation and improve hormonal sensitivity.
Exercise is a potent way to balance hormones such as insulin and stimulate those feel good endorphins. It can be as simple as an energetic 30 minute walk (break a sweat) once a day and incorporating small changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking farther from your destination.
Sleep is critical (Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture can help). Sleep is restorative and can help you work out emotional stresses. In addition, sufficient sleep actually reduces cortisol levels and helps you lose weight!
Stress reduction—deep relaxation: You need to have a time each day when your body experiences a state of deep relaxation. This helps you recharge your batteries and get your system back in balance. Acupuncture, yoga, visualization, Qi Gong and meditation, are all ways of slowing your mind and body and achieving deep relaxation. Studies have shown that meditation can actually change your brain activity and thinking patterns