By the time we get old, our bodies go through a series of changes and transitions. Many of these changes come along with menopause, which sets in after the age of 45 and marks the end of fertility for women.
Although this is a natural process that affects all women, the change in hormonal activity sometimes happens too fast, and many women do not know how to cope with it. Menopause is correlated with many symptoms that might vary in intensity:
• Loss of libido;
• Night sweats;
• Hot flushes;
• Mood changes;
• Urinary tract infections;
• Appetite increase.
How does menopause affect appetite?
Two hormones are responsible for this change: leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin, which comes from the stomach, slows down the metabolism and the fat burning ability of the body and increases the sensation of hunger.
Leptin on the other hand, is produced by fat cells during sleep. Your fat cells are linked to receptors in the brain that tell you when you are satisfied. If the leptin level is decreased, it will decrease your body’s ability to burn calories and to shut down your appetite as well.
Another hormone that has an important role in this process is estrogen. It has been observed that the normal drop in estrogen levels that comes along with menopause induces gain weight, because the body uses blood sugar and starches less effectively. This leads to an increase in fat deposits and makes the process of losing weight much harder.
What other factors lead to weight gain during menopause?
- The lack of physical activity increases with age. More than 50% of adults are not active enough.
- Muscles mass decreases, lowering the resting metabolism. This makes the process of gaining weight much easier and faster.
- Because the rate of energy loss during exercise declines, you will have to increase the intensity and duration of your exercises to achieve weight loss.
- Diets – Many women experiencing weight gain during menopause believe that diets will help them keep this process under control. On the contrary, the body slows its metabolism to conserve the resources it does not get anymore.
- Stress – All these menopausal changes can increase the stress level, which not only brings about additional weight, especially around your belly, but it also increases you appetite. Emotional eating sabotages your weight loss efforts, pushing you to eat when you are angry, sad or stressed.
- Genes. Yes, genes can be controlled. If you mother and your grandmother gained weight in their later years, this does not mean that you will too. Exercise regularly and you will be able to decrease by 50% the weight-gain influence in your genes.
To be able to cope with menopause and its symptoms, you will first have to understand it. Talk to a specialist about this, and they will be able to give you advice on how to minimize the negative effects of menopause and how to live a perfectly normal life while keeping the symptoms and the body’s changes under control.
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