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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Advice for an exercising peri-menopausal ex-smoker who is gaining weight

I have become pre-menopausal in the last year and in May 19 last 2010 I quit smoking.  I have been exercising more (did my first tri and did not come last ) walk to and from work plus do yoga and core work most days. I have also been watching my food intake a I was aware of the potential to put on weight when giving up smoking and going in to menopause.

My question is why am I gaining weight??

While the hormonal changes associated with menopause may be a contributor to your weight gain, I feel the main cause may be due to the adrenals and thyroid being on a "low".

I understand that you are in a stressful occupation.  Your occupation, plus other life stressors hammer the small adrenal glands that simply are not designed to handle the constant stress of modern life.  It is inevitable that these hard-working glands will eventually tire and begin to fail.

The adrenals produce over 90 different steroidal hormones.  The main one is cortisol.  Others include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

As an aside: With menopause, the ovaries steadily reduce production of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.  Interestingly, the adrenals, when in good health, step up their production of these hormones, thus reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms.  If the adrenals are in poor health, menopausal symptoms tend to be much worse, to the point of unbearable.

What has all this to do with weight gain?  Its indirect.

The adrenals secrete a hormone called cortisol.  Cortisol potentiates thyroxine, so a drop in cortisol production means the thyroid has to work harder than ever to do its job of keeping metabolism on an even keel.

Another action of low adrenal function is copper retention due to the adrenals having less of a stimulatory effect on the liver.  Copper reduces thyroid function.  Please read this article for more about copper and thyroid function.  And this article is relevant.

Low thyroid = Weight gain, especially about the hips and waist

Tobacco contains a stimulant called nicotine.  The stimulation from nicotine may offset any depressing of metabolism from reducing adrenal and thyroid activity.  When a person gives up smoking, the low adrenal and thyroid activity may be revealed in the form of persistent weight gain no matter what.

Going on a low fat, low calorie diet will make matters worse because the calorie deprivation is sending signals to store food and not burn it.

A diet that is low in fat is, by default, deficient in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  These vitamins, along with cholesterol, are necessary for hormone production.  Hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and thyroxine.

Sounds like a recipe for excessive menopausal symptoms and weight gain!

The solution is to undertake an adrenal fatigue and thyroid recovery programme.  You will need to correspond directly with me about this because it is by prescription only.

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