The Natural Beauty Show discuss menopause
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Women in their 40s and above are more at risk of developing other serious health issues due to menopausal weight gain. The shift in weight is down to several biological and hormonal changes, especially in the abdominal region.
Menopausal weight gain is usually inevitable due to reduced oestrogen levels, lower-quality sleep and reductions in metabolism and muscle mass.
Researchers have linked low oestrogen levels with an increase in body fat, particularly abdominal fat which in excess, can lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
Dr James de Lemos said: “Belly fat is the most dangerous kind of fat because it develops in the abdominal region and can surround internal organs.
“Research at UT Southwestern, which was led by my former colleague Dr Ian Neeland, has shown that this kind of fat puts people at greater risk for developing several kinds of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, some types of cancer, and risk for sudden death.”
But the menopausal transition affects lifestyle-related behaviour such as eating, physical activity and sleep practices and all these play a huge role in how a person maintains a healthy weight.
Researchers found that some women can find it difficult to manage corrective eating and physical activity behaviour in their day-to-day life due to a lack of energy and motivation.
Generally, midlife women with weight-related health issues are given generic lifestyle counselling at healthcare settings such as to exercise more regularly and to eat healthy foods to maintain a balanced diet.
But experts have branded obesity in midlife women a “clinical and public health challenge”, so motivation to strive for a healthy lifestyle, despite the hormonal changes, is key.
Researchers say even highly motivated midlife women find it challenging to maintain corrective lifestyle-related behaviours when they encounter midlife-specific barriers and have poor weight loss outcomes in the long term.
But there is good news – women may be able to control their abdominal fat by following a few simple rules.
“You won’t be surprised to hear it starts with a healthy lifestyle – a proper diet and regular exercise,” continued Dr Lemos.
“Any intervention that leads to sustained weight loss will reduce belly fat, but regular exercise lowers belly fat proportionally more than it lowers overall weight.
“These results indicate exercise is a key weapon in the battle against belly fat.”
A recent study from UT Southwestern investigators showed that a lifestyle intervention that lowered belly fat reduced the risk for the most common kind of heart failure in older adults.
Therefore, even if people have an unfavourable body fat distribution, you can do something about it.
The two main ways to decrease belly fat include:
Avoid foods that are high in simple sugars or saturated fat.
The Mediterranean diet, which incorporates lots of olive oil, can reduce the risks, said Dr Lemos.
“There is some evidence that suggests vegetable oil may cause fat to collect in the abdominal region, while olive oil consumption may promote fat going to less harmful areas of the body.”
Make sure to get regular exercise.
“Aerobic exercise is more effective than resistance training at distributing fat to the best places in the body, but both are beneficial,” he explained.
“In addition to redistributing fat, exercise builds lean muscle mass.
“As a result, a person’s BMI [body mass index] may not change, but there is still a health benefit.”
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