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5 Ways to Boost Your Metabolic Health During Menopause

Metabolic health refers to the absence of metabolic syndrome, or MetS, a cohort of five risk factors that can increase our risk of cardiometabolic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Our risk of developing metabolic syndrome generally increases as we age, but for women, our menopausal status is a significant determinant to our metabolic health.

What does this mean? Well, there’s many factors at play here, but some of the main drivers are:

  • Fluctuating hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and estradiol can increase our risk of becoming insulin resistant, which can lead to fatigue and excess fat storage (which can then lead to further insulin resistance, and on and on).
  • Weight gain around the belly, especially in cases of abdominal obesity, may contribute to our risk for developing other MetS criteria, as well as serious cardiometabolic diseases.

READ MORE: Why We Need to Talk More About Metabolic Health & Menopause

Okay, but what can I do?

Typically, lifestyle interventions are the first line of defense when it comes to bolstering our metabolic health…

1. Maintain a balanced diet

Our dietary choices determine a whole lot about our overall and metabolic health. By prioritizing wholesome, plant-based ingredients, we can reduce blood sugar and insulin fluctuations, and reduce potential inflammation. We say it all the time, but we’re huge fans of the Mediterranean diet, which privileges fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, legumes, and seafood. In addition to supporting metabolic health, these types of foods may help reduce the severity of hot flashes, brain fog, and joint and muscle aches.

READ MORE: Mediterranean Diet During Menopause: Benefits, Tips, Recipes & More

2. Get a good night’s sleep

Like diet, sleep is important for just about every body function, including metabolic health. Why? Well, insufficient or poor quality sleep can result in blood sugar spikes the following day. Aim to get between 7-9 hours each night. There’s a caveat though – what time you go to sleep is also a factor at play…

READ MORE: Trouble Sleeping During Menopause? These Natural Sleep Aids May Help.

3. Hit the hay earlier

In addition to needing quality sleep, we know that going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day is beneficial, due to our circadian rhythm. Also known as our internal clock, our circadian rhythm is set for slightly more than 24 hours and is connected to hormone production and metabolism. This typically synchronizes with light and dark, so that we are essentially most alert during the day and least alert at night. Studies suggest this pattern may also be associated with our metabolic rate, which tends to slow down earlier in the day, meaning we “burn” the least calories in the evening.

When our sleep schedule conflicts with this natural pattern, we may experience changes in hormones that interact with hunger and energy intake. The impact? Food intake while our metabolism is at its slowest, which can contribute to weight gain.

4. Make time for exercise

No one wants to hear this, but it’s true. Physical activity is critical for our physical and mental health. It helps lower our cardiovascular risk and can help with other menopause symptoms like mood changes and sleep problems. We recommend a mix of strength training and cardio. Strength training aids in maintaining (and building) muscle mass to increase metabolic rate, protect joints, and prevent osteoporosis. For cardiovascular health and weight management, cardio helps by keeping your heart pumping and burning a significant number of calories.

READ MORE: 3 Exercises For Menopause To Try This Year

5. Practice stress-reduction techniques

In addition to impacting our mental health, chronic stress can harm our overall metabolic health and has been linked to MetS and cardiovascular disease. When we are stressed, our bodies can release a hormone called cortisol –– also known as the “stress hormone.” Some research suggests that elevated levels of cortisol might increase the risk for weight gain, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Some stress-reduction strategies include yoga and mindfulness, guided imagery, journaling, and time in nature –– try to find something that you look forward to and can be consistent with.

What about hormone replacement therapy?

While Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT), previously called “Hormone Replacement Therapy,” is best known for treating menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, an added benefit is a reduction in cardiovascular risk.

Interested in taking charge of your metabolic health during menopause? Learn more and book a visit with a board-certified, menopause-trained Elektra clinician.