Weight loss: Doctor recommends tips for women in menopause – ‘past diet may not work’

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Dr Laila Kaikavoosi is a GP, menopause specialist, and founder of the UK’s first online menopause clinic, the Online Menopause Centre. She spoke to Express.co.uk about what happens to the body when it goes through menopause, and how women can lead a healthy lifestyle when they reach a certain age.

Dr Kaikavoosi explained that as women enter menopause, which is around 51 years of age in the UK, according to her, “several physiological changes occur”.

She continued: “Female hormones have protective effect against cardiovascular disease, dementia, osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases.

“With the drop in their levels at menopause, the diagnosis of certain health conditions become more prevalent.”

Menopause also makes it easier for women to put on weight.

Dr Kaikavoosi said: “At menopause, due to the reduction in female hormone levels the metabolic rate slows down.

“There is also a reduction in muscle mass which results in a reduction in metabolism.

“This together with some food intolerances or sensitivities which could occur at this point makes it easier for women to put on weight.”

So, how can middle-aged women begin to lose weight, or maintain the figure they had before the menopause?

According to Dr Kaikavoosi, “the dramatic and permanent drop in female hormones, as well as the commonly increase in levels of cortisol, play an important role in the process of weight gain in older women”.

“Therefore, the same diet which could have helped reduce weight in the past may not work at the time of menopause,” she said.

“Women need to work on reducing their cortisol level.

“Cortisol is one of the adrenal hormones which is known as the ‘stress’ hormone and can prevent sugar metabolism.”

The doctor went on to advise: “Women can begin to lose weight by increasing their physical activity, reducing alcohol, fatty and sugary food intake and reducing their stress levels and paying attention to their sleep.

“Women should think about a more plant-based diet as they enter menopause.

“Good fats like nuts, avocado and oily fish – mackerel, sardines, and salmon – help to balance hormones and benefit heart and brain health.

“Stomach acid can reduce with age leading to digestion difficulties and emergence of food intolerances.

“It is therefore beneficial to incorporate natural probiotics like fermented foods – kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut – into the diet.”

There are some areas of the body that gain weight easier and quicker than others, and one of these is the waist.

To reduce belly fat or the weight that collects around the waist, Dr Kaikavoosi recommended increasing physical activity and paying attention to the types and quantity of food intake.

She advised doing “cardiovascular exercises like jogging, fast walking, swimming, and cycling”.

“There should also be less processed products, animal products, sugars and simple carbohydrates and more plant based, complex carbohydrates and good fats,” the doctor added.

“Alcohol is also a high calorie, but nutritionally empty drink and its intake should be kept to a minimum.”

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