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Menopause and belly fat, what is happening to my body?
By Tammy-Lynn McNabb, RHNP
So you are working out, and eating right yet your midsection is growing! I’ve spoken with so many women who are in the middle of menopause and who have always been on the skinnier side who are floored at the changes taking place in their bodies, especially around the midriff section. What is going on and what do I do? During menopause, the body experiences significant hormonal changes, including a decrease in the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can cause various symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, lower sex drive, vaginal dryness, and increased belly fat. This article explores the supplements that women can take to help combat belly fat during menopause.
The Role of Hormones in Belly Fat
Before we delve into the supplements, it's essential to understand how hormones affect belly fat. Estrogen, a female hormone, plays a vital role in burning body fat. It helps retain muscle mass and maintain a healthy weight. When women enter menopause, their estrogen levels decline, and as a result, they may start to accumulate fat around their abdomen. This type of fat is called visceral fat, and it's linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Many women take estrogen supplementation during menopause in the form of a cream, insert, or vaginal ring.
Supplements to Combat Belly Fat During Menopause:
Several supplements may help combat belly fat during menopause. These supplements should be used alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. Let's discuss them in detail.
1. Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones, but they may also help burn belly fat during menopause. A study published in the Journal of Women's Health found that women who took calcium and vitamin D supplements had a significant reduction in belly fat compared to those who didn't take them. Calcium may decrease the production of the hormone that promotes fat storage, while vitamin D may increase the production of enzymes that burn fat.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in the gut that may help reduce belly fat. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women who took probiotics had a significant reduction in belly fat compared to those who didn't take them. Probiotics may help regulate hormones that control appetite and metabolism, resulting in reduced belly fat.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats found in fish oil, nuts, and seeds. They may help combat belly fat by reducing inflammation and balancing hormones that affect weight. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who took omega-3 supplements had a significant reduction in belly fat compared to those who didn't take them.
4. Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract may help combat belly fat by increasing metabolism and fat burning. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who took green tea extract had a significant reduction in belly fat compared to those who didn't take it. Green tea extract may also reduce the absorption of fat from the diet, resulting in reduced belly fat.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that may help reduce belly fat during menopause. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who took magnesium supplements had a significant reduction in waist circumference compared to those who didn't take them. Magnesium may help regulate insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, resulting in reduced belly fat.
6. Estrogen Supplementation
Estrogen is a hormone produced mainly in women's ovaries that plays various essential roles in the body, including the development of female secondary sex characteristics such as breasts, menstruation, and fertility. However, as women transition through various stages of life, such as menopause, the levels of estrogen may decline, leading to various health issues such as hot flashes, mood changes, and sleeping problems. Estrogen supplementation has emerged as a potential solution to mitigate these issues. Estrogen replacement therapy can help your body redistribute belly fat to different areas on your body, rather than your abdominal area.
Estrogen Supplementation Forms
When it comes to estrogen supplementation, it's essential to understand the various forms available to women. The four common forms of estrogen supplementation include oral pills, vaginal creams/pill inserts, vaginal ring insert and skin patches/creams.
Oral pills are probably the commonest form of estrogen supplementation available in the market. Normally taken once per day, oral estrogen pills are easy to use and ingest. These pills can be used to treat a broad range of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Hormonal pills can be categorized into two groups: combined hormonal therapy and estrogen therapy. In combined hormonal therapy, the doses of estrogen and other hormones such as progestin are combined, whereas estrogen therapy involves estrogen alone.
Vaginal Estrogen Creams and Pill Inserts
Another form of estrogen supplementation is vaginal creams/pills. These creams/pills are applied vaginally and are inserted into the vagina. The cream's job is to help combat vaginal dryness and other related conditions, making sex more comfortable and enjoyable. Vaginal creams with estrogen contain small amounts of this hormone that is metabolized within the vaginal tissues, leading to fewer side effects than pills.
Finally, estrogen supplementation comes in the form of skin patches and skin creams. These patches are placed on the skin or cream rubbed into the skin, and the hormone slowly seeps in through the skin. Skin patches/creams are often prescribed daily, with a new patch replaced every couple of days.
Estradiol Vaginal Ring
The estradiol vaginal ring is a form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that is designed to deliver the hormone estradiol directly to the vagina. This therapy is most commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
The estradiol vaginal ring is a flexible, transparent ring that is inserted into the vagina and releases a continuous low-dose of estradiol over a three-month period. This therapy is effective in treating menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itching, burning, pain during sex, and urinary tract infections. It is also effective in preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of heart disease.
The Benefits of Estrogen Supplementation
Estrogen supplementation has been found to offer several benefits to women who experience menopausal symptoms. These benefits include:
- Reduced hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness
- Improved vaginal health and comfortable sexual activity
- Better cognitive functioning, mood, and sleep quality
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Reduced risk of colorectal and endometrial cancer