I’ve been on a low carb, high fat diet all through my menopause, and I’ve noticed a few very interesting things in the last 7 years. I’m 57 now, and went into the full menopause at 50. I’d already been eating a low carb diet for a few years, and believed it would be better for me to stay on it. Although the research was, (and still is!), almost non-existent around the menopause and L/C eating, there’s evidence building all the time on it’s health benefits in general, and my clients have been providing me with many, many subjective stories of old health issues clearing after a change in diet, including chronic, long term ones that looked like they were there to stay!
So although I already had a good sense of how much better I would feel staying on a L/C, higher fat diet I absolutely know, 7 years on, and a few interesting incidents later, that it was the best decision I could have made for my health.
What happened if I ate sugar or processed carbs was the most interesting thing by far! I’d notice the change overnight, in fact often over the space of a few hours. I would suffer terrible bloating, my energy levels would fall through the floor, my brain would go from clear to foggy, my joints would start to ache, and the sweats were like nothing on earth! And then I’d go back to complex, very low carbs and the bloating, low energy, pain, fog and sweats would literally disappear again over a couple of days. I didn’t need to do that too often to prove the point to myself!
Anecdotally, and as a nutritionist of nearly 25 years, I can confidently say that keeping to a low carb diet, and adding good fats as a source of energy will improve menopausal symptoms, and help women feel more comfortable in their own skin as they travel through the oestrogen withdrawal cycle. The body chemistry is very complex, and hormonal balances particularly are very delicate. They are subject to all kinds of outside influences that don’t seem to have much relevance on the surface. Stress, for instance can affects oestrogen levels if it carries on for too long and isn’t resolved. Exercise changes our hormonal balance, as does the amount of sleep we get, and the quality of it too.
We’ve known this for a long time…really without knowing much about how oestrogen itself affects the chemical balances, (the research on the benefits to the body of oestrogen are painfully behind the research on testosterone!). So it makes sense that of course diet will have a part to play in keeping us happy, healthy and as symptom-free during the menopause as possible. How?
Well….sugar raises the body temperature, first of all. Did you know that?? Nobody tells us, do they? Then insulin production spikes on eating sugar, and this prevents fat from being used by the body (it’s stored when there are high amounts of insulin in the blood stream). And guess what…hormones are lipids…which means they are made of fat…which means they need to be transported in a fat solution through the bloodstream to where they’re needed, and they can’t be used properly without the fats. Hmm. Interesting eh? The body is alive with a million messages a second travelling between cells, organs and systems, and this beautiful, delicately balanced organism that is our body needs fat for each and every one of them! In fact, every single cell membrane is made of fat, and without it, the cell will lose it’s shape and die eventually. To be honest, the bad fats are as damaging to cell membranes as sugar.
The liver works hard to ‘clean up’ after insulin, for one thing (there are many, many other reasons why the liver benefits when we knock out processed carbs and sugar…too many to go into here). The nervous system- think brain- becomes starved of energy when we eat large amounts of processed carbs and sugars over a chronic period of time. Again, it’s a delicate balancing act that controls the whole system. There is talk of Alzheimer’s being re-classified as type 3 diabetes for this very reason- no wonder we get foggy brained as the oestrogen levels drop too! (oestrogen is a neuro protectant, so we need to keep it as abundant and available for use as possible).
Of course the most obvious effect of knocking out the sugars and processed foods is on our weight. Personally, there hasn’t been any change for me, as I’ve weighed the same for 13 years now-that was when I first decided to put my old nutrition training to one side and trust my instincts with using fats as a healthy source of fuel. I dropped 4 1/2 stone in a year and never looked back. But I see the change in clients’ weight all the time. I’ve been chatting with a client today who is 2 stone down so far, has cleared up old knee complaints and knocked 6 inches off her hips. All this in under 6 months. Taking the pressure off your skeletal system from carrying around extra weight will have far -reaching repercussions that you can’t even imagine when you start out on this journey, I can just about guarantee that one 🙂
In this blog, I haven’t even touched on the emotional and mental health issues caused by the menopause, and helped by a low carb, higher fat diet. I think that’s probably a blog for another day, but trust me, seeing the transformation in my client’s state of mind and emotions as they clean up their diet over the weeks, is the best part of my job! It will only remain to be seen if you try it for yourself. Could you give it a go and see how much better you feel? Just bear in mind that you may even feel a bit worse at first, as your body will be de-toxing from the rubbish, and will need a little time to kick into fat burning mode, but for most people, it doesn’t take more than a few days to start noticing changes. You need to keep your carbs to around 30g p/day, and keep them as complex as possible. Email me if you’d like more information on how.
If you can’t imagine kicking out the sugars, then try hypnotherapy…it will work wonders on your mindset (though I say so myself!). There’s a link to try the free download at the bottom of the page if you’d like to give it a go? I’m sure you would notice a change too after a few weeks with the processed carbs and sugar, and you might be very pleasantly surprised with other changes than the ones I’ve listed for myself.