You may be familiar with Dr. Christiane Northrup from her appearances on PBS or even on Oprah. She is an M.D. and the author of "The Wisdom of Menopause," which is the most fabulous and thorough book on menopause that I've ever found.
Northrup's book covers the subject of menopause in detail, with chapters about our brains, physical changes, hormone replacement, foods and supplements, pelvic health, sex, sleep, depression, memory, beauty, healthy bones, breast health and heart health. Don't be put off by the fact that it's a 600-page paperback, because she writes in a friendly, interesting and very understandable manner.
This SHARE, however, is to zoom in on one part of the chapter I've been reading lately, which is The Menopause Food Plan: A program to Balance Your Hormones and Prevent Middle Age Spread. (Hallelujah! She understands!)
Northrup writes about her Six Steps to Midlife Weight Control. Do understand that I'm adding just a tiny summary of each part. If this interests you enough that you'd like more info, I've put some links at the bottom of this article.
Step 1: Maintain Normal Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Northrup talks about what happens when we eat too many refined carbohydrates, and how the excess sugar in our blood causes inflammation and glycemic stress. "Glycemic stress, if left unchecked, eventually results in syndrome X, which is characterized by central obesity (too much belly fat) and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, male pattern baldness, and heart disease," she writes.
"Most perimenopausal symptoms, such as heavy bleeding, cramps, fibroids, and PMS, will respond to a diet that keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels stable -- a diet that will also help prevent cellular inflammation." This includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It does NOT include alcohol, cookies, candy, soda, or refined products like white bread. Our goal is to burn blood sugar effectively, instead of storing it as more and more fat around our middle.
Step 2: Measure for Health - Waist/Hip Ratio, Body Mass Index, and Body Fat Percentage
If you know where you stand with these measurements, you've got a head start on how to improve your health, lower your blood pressure and balance your hormone levels, Northrup says.
Your doctor or a health club has to do your percentage of body fat, and there are internet sites that will figure out your BMI (here's one: http://www.findmybmi.com ) To get your waist/hip ratio, just measure around the fullest part of your buttocks, and measure your waist at its narrowest point. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement (um, where's my calculator?) A healthy ratio is less than .08, she says, and the ideal is .74. Or, just measure your waist alone. If it's greater than 34.5 inches around, there's a strong chance that you already have insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, she writes.
Got your numbers? Good. Now all you have to do is work on reducing them, bit by bit.
Step Three: Check Out Your Metabolic Stressors
Do you have a stress pattern that could be leading to weight gain? (I'm thinking about that 3 p.m. trip to the vending machines for a candy bar, for instance, or the potato chips in the chair at night in front of the television.)
We have all heard of various creative ways to change our patterns and habits -- take a walk, eat an apple instead, make a phone call, and so on. But here's something I hadn't heard:
"Be particularly aware of the danger of the late-afternoon hours when the main hormones that allow us to mount a response against stress -- serotonin and cortisol -- tend to fall, leaving us feeling more vulnerable to our underlying emotions. In particular, when serotonin, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, is depleted, we are apt to eat anything in sight -- particularly refined carbohydrates -- to bring it back to normal."
Step Four: Exercise
It's good for everything. Northrup recommends at least 30 minutes of sustained exercise at least five times per week.
Step Five: Get Your Thyroid Checked:
About 25 percent of women develop or have thyroid problems by the time they reach perimenopause.
Step Six: Quell Cellular Inflammation:
Cut out refined carbohydrates. (Yes, she hit on this in the first step, too. It's a monster, apparently.)
Cut out the trans fats, and get the powerful Omega-3's into your diet.
Make sure you get a good multi vitamin daily; deficiencies of Vitamin C, B6 and magnesium, she writes, favor the overproduction of pro-inflammatory substances.
Manage your stress, which will help manage your hormones.
Northrup goes on to describe her hormone-balancing food plan, which I'll write about at a future date. But here is a link to her own website:
And here's a link to the book I'm reading and quoting from:
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