Help, My Body Isn't MINE Anymore!
There are a lot of ways to be beautiful, but one of the biggest things that makes us feel beautiful is just that…feeling beautiful. It can be hard to feel beautiful if we’re not comfortable in our own skin. For many women, menopause brings unwelcome weight changes, making them feel as if their body is not their own.
Now, this blog post is heavy on biochem, so buckle up, because we can appreciate that many ladies have legitimate concerns regarding weight gain that can’t be fixed with the oft’ repeated ‘calories in = calories out’ trope.
Glasses on? Let’s dive in.
Does Estriol Play A Role In Weight Gain?
The first point to address is the question of whether Silky Peach (and the estriol in it) can cause weight gain. The short answer? Not really. The amount of estriol in the cream is very low and does not have the same cell growing impact that the more powerful estradiol has.
The Seven Things That ARE Causing Weight Gain
- Metabolism Changes: Our metabolism changes significantly as we get older. The degree of that change is impacted by food choices, duration and intensity of exercise, nutritional supplement regimes, sleep patterns, and stress levels. Even for women who have maintained a slender figure during the first few years post menopause, eventually the changes in metabolism and hormones will have an impact on the ability to keep weight off or to lose it.
- Hormone Deficiencies: We’re talking about estrogen, progesterone, and thyroxine in particular. Post menopause, deficiencies in progesterone and estrogen are very common. Progesterone in particular is important as it helps thyroid hormones function more efficiently. Imbalances in Cortisol – either too much or too little, can also impact metabolism and weight, as can too little testosterone or DHEA.
- Thyroid Function: Low thyroid is often missed by practitioners and can have an impact on weight. The thyroid gland is a vital hormone gland: it plays a major role in the metabolism, growth, and development of the human body. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. If the body needs more energy in certain situations – for instance, if it is growing or cold, the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormones to increase the metabolic rate and to create energy from fat stores or to burn carbohydrates that we eat.
- Iodine: There are actually three thyroid hormones – T3, T4 and Calcitonin. Iodine is one of the main building blocks of these hormones; our bodies can’t produce this trace element, so we need to get enough of it in our diet. Iodine is absorbed into our bloodstream from food in our intestine and then carried to the thyroid gland, where it is eventually used to make thyroid hormones. The typical test for Thyroid function is for TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. However, what is often not tested is the actual levels of T3 and T4. Someone could make a lot of TSH but that doesn’t always result in making the hormones. Low thyroid level can cause weight gain as the ability to convert fat stores to energy is reduced. Even with no changes to a healthy diet, the ability to convert that food to energy can be reduced if thyroid levels decline.
- Stress & Cortisol: Low grade persistent stress can have a slow but steady impact on weight. Under stress our bodies make cortisol. Cortisol is important in the right amounts, but too much, on a consistent basis, will impact blood sugar metabolism and insulin levels. Even those with the sunniest disposition will have found that 2020 and 2021 carries extra stress and depression. This makes it harder to keep a positive cheerful outlook and make the right lifestyle choices.
- Muscle Mass Changes: Post menopause we lose muscle mass and that means we burn calories at a lower rate; insulin levels can start to rise, and we are more prone to blood sugar dysregulation. This dysregulation often shows up as a craving for sugar foods. A brisk walk can do wonders to send your brain the message “burn fat, burn fat”.
- Disruption to the Microbiome: Weight gain can sometimes be tied with feeling bloated. Feelings of bloating are far more likely to come from a food that doesn’t agree with you than the small amount of estriol that you are using on a daily or every other day basis. There is a growing interest in understanding how the balance of bacteria in our guts impacts our health. The term used is the microbiome, and scientists are beginning to see that a high proportion of western food regimes result in very disrupted microbiomes. Throw in the stress of 2020-2021 and the phrase, “ I feel it in my gut” becomes literal. Our gut microbiome really IS disrupted…and we have the gas to show it! Incidentally – progesterone is a diuretic and so can reduce bloating and swelling.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that contribute to weight changes post menopause. Generally changes are more age related than hormone related, but hormone changes do have some impact. Ensuring your hormone levels are optimal is definitely a piece of living with vitality post menopause.