For some women, going through menopause is a challenging time that consists of depression, hot flashes, irritability, muscle pain, and that’s not all. It may be difficult acclimating to menopause, but luckily if a woman sticks to a healthy diet and exercises regularly, she should be able to combat the symptoms. In particular, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that may help ease menopausal symptoms. The Body Reboot book discusses many of these benefits the keto diet offers and how it may not only help women get through menopause, but also improve things like body inflammation and mental health.
Dr. Axe educates us on just how important diet and lifestyle choices are when experiencing menopause. While menopause is inevitable, controlling the symptoms is possible by being on the right diet and making positive lifestyle changes, such as going on the keto diet. Dr. Axe also cites a few studies from NCBI that support going on keto to help ease menopause. In particular, one study by Exp Clin Cardiol in 2004 revealed that:
“The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients.”
And another NCBI study from Prz Menopauzalny in 2015 also mentions how metabolic disorders can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease, which is why it’s essential to have a healthy diet.
Metabolic disorders occurring in menopause, including dyslipidemia, disorders of carbohydrate metabolism (impaired glucose tolerance – IGT, type 2 diabetes mellitus – T2DM) or components of metabolic syndrome, constitute risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women.
Prevention and treatment preceded by early diagnosis should be the main goal for the physicians involved in menopausal care.
Let’s see what Dr. Axe says, which summarizes and supports the above studies. His powerful reminder will hopefully urge women who have or are struggling with menopause to adjust their diet and make healthy decisions.
For many of my patients, menopause spells absolute misery. Hot flashes cut into their sleep and create heart palpitations; they frequently feel irritated or “off;” and they often sacrifice their sex life during the transition. Hormonal imbalances like estrogen, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which decline around middle age, contribute to these and other issues. (1) Altogether, these imbalances create a perfect storm for problems with weight gain, mood swings and a crashing libido.
Many patients are surprised to learn that diet and lifestyle choices can dramatically impact menopausal symptoms. (2) Even if a patient is watching calories, a high-sugar diet (and remember: all carbohydrates break down into sugar) can spike and crash insulin levels, which then leads to the storing of fat, exacerbation of inflammation, and the creation of a hormonal-imbalance domino effect.
These hormonal imbalances, coupled with the chronic stress and anxiety that nearly every patient experiences, contribute to hot flashes, while also setting the stage for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Perfect Keto makes a compelling argument that not only can the keto diet help with menopause; it can also help women maintain or lose weight. The author backs up her claims by citing a few studies from NCBI: Biomed Res Int. 2014 and PLoS One. 2015.
Weight gain is one of the primary complaints of many women during menopause. It can seem like they are doing everything right, yet still gaining weight.
The bottom line is that low estrogen levels cause weight gain (NCBI: Biomed Res Int. 2014), and it seems to accumulate particularly in the abdominal area. This can ring alarm bells for women who were used to wearing a certain pant size and now nothing fits.
Often, they will attempt to cut calories to lose weight, but this can make certain symptoms of menopause worse.
First of all, low calorie diets slow metabolism. They also speed up the loss of muscle and bone mass, increasing the risk for osteoporosis.
Menopause in itself causes muscle and bone loss already, so why make it worse by following a low cal diet?
If you see the pounds creeping up, the keto diet can be a great way manage weight.
Evidence shows that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet can help women lose weight and keep it off.
In a 2015 study (PLoS One. 2015), postmenopausal women who survived breast cancer were asked to follow a low carbohydrate or low-fat diet. Those who followed the low carbohydrate diet lost 23.1 pounds, 7.6% body fat, and 3.7 inches in their waist in 6 months. Although both groups lost weight, the low carb group lost significantly more.
According to Farmacopia, the keto diet can help both with insomnia and hot flashes. Both are common side effects of going through menopause, so it’s nice to know that a low-carb, high-fat diet can help with that.
This one is a bit more complicated and may need some additional support beyond a low carb diet. However, I have seen a significant number of women who keto-adapt suddenly sleep like they haven’t in years. One clue is that a high fat/low carb diet supports adrenal health.
I have a couple hypotheses for why a ketogenic diet combined with detoxification decreases hot flashes. First of all, as stated above, the adrenals love this diet. The adrenals are responsible for the production of estrogen and progesterone once our ovaries are no longer fertile. A balance of estrogen with progesterone is essential to avoid hot flashes. The second organ involved in hormone metabolism is the liver. The liver is on the other side of the equation because it is responsible for the removal of hormones. The liver also removes fat-soluble toxins. Therefore, detoxification lowers the workload on the liver and helps balance our hormones.
Did you know that being on a keto diet can strengthen muscles? During menopause, you may experience a lack of muscle strength, but eating food that’s high in protein can help combat that. Tasteaholics further discusses this below:
Retaining muscle strength can be difficult during menopause due to dramatic hormonal shifts. Depending on the circumstances, this can even lead to chronic pain. However, foods that are high in protein and low in carbs are an essential part3 of the ketogenic diet and greatly help menopausal women increase and maintain muscle strength. As estrogen levels decrease, keto greatly supports muscle and joint strength. Regular exercise can enhance keto’s desirable bodily impacts.
Menopause does not have to be the end of a great life, nor should it be. Women will be ecstatic to discover ketosis as an energizing, health-boosting lifestyle change.
Inflammation and a lack of energy are two other symptoms menopausal women may go through. The ketogenic diet lowers inflammation and increases strength, which Dr. Jockers says both can help combat menopause.
Chronic inflammation is the cause of most, if not all, chronic disease. Chronic inflammation can increase during menopause so it is critical to take steps to reduce inflammation. One of the most amazing benefits of the ketogenic diet is its ability to drastically lower inflammation.
The ketogenic diet lowers inflammation by reducing the amount of free radical production, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and reducing insulin levels. With lower levels of inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels, more of the energy carrying molecule Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is produced in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of your cells, and the ketogenic diet stimulates the growth of new and stronger mitochondria.
By reducing inflammation and improving mitochondrial function, the ketogenic diet allows the body to heal and mitigate disease processes more effectively. This improves your risk factors for metabolic and other chronic diseases, gives optimal energy production, and creates an efficiently functioning body.
Dr. Jockers also discusses how the keto diet can also help women who are depressed or anxious from menopause potentially feel better:
Many menopausal women experience mood swings, anxiety and depression. This is due to a decline in estrogen levels. There are abundant estrogen receptors in the region of the brain called the medial amygdala (MeA)(7). The MeA regulates mood, endocrine, and metabolic stress responses. When estrogen levels decline in menopause, this can affect your mood and lead to emotional distress and depression.
Consuming a high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diet will cause massive fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This can lead to rapid changes in your mood and behavior. The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet decreases and stabilizes blood sugar and insulin levels. This will have a positive impact on mood by providing your brain with a stable source of energy.
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