NutriSense Blog
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Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health

March 4, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey
Reviewed by
Cheri B.
RD

From irregular periods and hot flashes to night sweats and sudden weight gain, menopause can bring a host of scary symptoms with it. But there's nothing to be scared of about this natural process! Menopause is a natural process that signals the end of your menstrual cycles, and it's something all women experience as they age. 

To explain it a little better: menopause is a time in a woman's life when her menstrual periods stop, and she can no longer get pregnant. Ups and downs are typical during a menstrual cycle, so skipping one or even a few months doesn't always mean you're going through menopause. Skipping an entire year, however, is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. 

Menopause typically occurs between 45 and 55 but can occur earlier or later, depending on various factors. If it happens earlier, you may be experiencing premature menopause, which can occur due to medical conditions and genetics. The average age that women experience menopause symptoms in the United States is 51 years old, but some people may experience early menopause. 

Everyone's experience is unique, but some common symptoms can be clues to help you figure out whether what you're experiencing is indeed menopause. For example, many women experience changes in their metabolism during natural menopause, leading to problems such as weight gain and difficulty losing weight. 

Fortunately, healthy lifestyle changes and hormone therapies (like hormone replacement therapy) can help you manage your metabolic health during your menopausal journey. 

More About Menopause

a doctor making notes and talking to a patient

Menopause can be a tumultuous experience for some women. But while it can be challenging for some, it's also a natural experience and something of a milestone in a woman's life. After all, it's often a sign of the end of your fertility. 

When you go through menopause, your ovaries produce fewer estrogen and progesterone hormones. For some women, the symptoms of menopause last for the entire duration of this experience—which can vary from person to person. They usually last for an average of four and a half years but can go on for up to 11! Postmenopausal women may experience some symptoms that linger even after they have gone through the menopausal transition. 

Everyone experiences menopause differently, but some of the symptoms of menopause that you might experience include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty managing your weight
  • Increased levels of belly fat
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Loss in libido
  • Increased anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Irregular menstruation 
  • Chills
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain due to slowing metabolism
  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary incontinence  

An official diagnosis for menopause is typical after you have gone around 12 months without a menstrual cycle. Many women experience changes in their menstrual cycle and other symptoms for a few years leading up to menopause. It's known as a menopausal transition or perimenopause. 

What Is Metabolic Health and Why Is It Important?

a person having breakfast in bed

If you're like most people, you probably don't give much thought to your metabolic health. But did you know that it's one of the most critical aspects of your overall health? 

Metabolic health refers to your body's ability to convert food into energy. When it's functioning optimally, it allows you to maintain a healthy weight, strong bones, and good cardiovascular health. It's all about maintaining a healthy balance of chemicals and enzymes in your body. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to a higher risk of developing medical conditions. 

So, in a nutshell, metabolic health is a term used to describe how well your body functions metabolically. It's not just about weight or body composition but also about how all the different metabolic processes work together. Improving your metabolic health can help you feel better, look better, and reduce your risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. And, it can help during menopause too! 

How Is Metabolic Health Related to Menopause?

a person maing a salad

As you transition into menopause, your body will go through several changes. Metabolic health is one area that can be affected, and it's essential to understand how these changes can impact your overall wellbeing. 

It's imperative to focus on metabolic health as there are links between menopause and metabolic syndrome. Assessing your metabolic health with your healthcare provider during perimenopause may help prevent metabolic syndrome when you go through menopause. And balancing your blood sugar levels and closely monitoring your diet may help you prevent weight gain during this time too. 

Remember that menopause leads to a decrease in estrogen levels and an increase in circulating androgens, resulting in changes to body fat distribution. All of this can lead to the development of fat in your abdomen. 

It's essential to maintain metabolic health during perimenopause and menopause to avoid metabolic syndrome, which can increase the risk of various conditions, including breast cancer, kidney disease, bone loss, high blood sugar, mental health conditions, and osteoporosis. 

a list of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome: high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes, low HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, weight gain in your abdominal region, high blood pressure

How to Stay Healthy During Menopause

two people in the kitchen one of them making a sald, another making sandwiches

Menopause can bring about some unwelcome changes, including hot flashes, insomnia, changes in hormone levels, and mood swings. As you approach menopause, it's more important than ever to focus on your health. It means making sure you're getting enough exercise and eating a balanced diet that's best for your specific needs. 

It also means paying attention to any symptoms you may be experiencing and taking steps to manage them. You can work on your diet and lifestyle, making changes to improve your chances of going through menopause with fewer symptoms and a lower impact on your metabolic health.

If you begin experiencing the symptoms of menopause or you're approaching 'midlife,' you may want to consult (regularly!) with a healthcare provider that specializes in women's health. It's vital to get medical advice as you begin regulating your overall health during the time leading up to your last period. 

Your doctor may recommend supplements, hormone replacement therapy, birth control, lubricants (for vaginal dryness), or other treatment options to help you during this transitionary period. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during menopause:

Maintain a Healthy Diet

While there are no one-size-fits-all remedies for managing the symptoms of menopause, good nutrition is undoubtedly an essential part of the equation. By eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats, you can ease your symptoms and maintain optimal health during menopause.

  • Eating a diet high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats with fewer carbohydrates can help promote healthy weight loss. It can also improve insulin sensitivity in some, leading to better glucose control and an overall improvement in how your body responds to menopause.
  • Add a moderate amount of healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, avocado, or oily fish to your diet. It can help your body keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
  • Opt for whole grains over processed grains. Eating fewer refined carbohydrates can help lower your blood glucose response.
  • Ensure your diet includes essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D.

Stick to an Exercise Routine

a person sitting on the floor and meditating in front of a laptop

Exercise has many benefits, including helping to reduce the symptoms of menopause, improving your mood, and preventing weight gain. Without regular exercise, you can lose muscle mass, leading to a decline in metabolism and inevitably to weight gain, whether you're going through menopause or not! 

Any type of physical activity is good for you, so find something you enjoy and stick with it. Physical activity can also prevent weight gain and help with mood changes during menopause. 

Here are some exercises to try during (and before) menopause:

  • Stretching can help you maintain flexibility during menopause. 
  • Aerobic activity is the perfect way to keep weight off or lose weight. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, biking, rowing, and swimming. 
  • Strength training will strengthen your muscles and help your metabolism burn calories more efficiently.

Reduce your Alcohol Consumption 

Menopause is a natural occurrence, but it's not always an easy journey. For many women, the symptoms can feel miserable, and it can take a few years to feel like yourself again. 

So, it might seem like the right time to give yourself a pass on that extra glass of wine. Still, excess alcohol may worsen menopausal symptoms. You can enjoy a drink or two during menopause, but the key to maintaining your health is to indulge in moderation. 

If you're experiencing changes in blood glucose trends (it's a good idea to check these as often as possible), you may want to consider seeking medical advice as alcohol can cause dips in blood sugar levels. 

Use a Continuous Glucose Monitor

a person looking at their CGM sensor on their upper am

Using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can be a real eye-opener to the changes that are going on in your body. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable will help prevent spikes and dips, which will cause long-term health issues. Blood sugar imbalances may also trigger symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog. So, it's best to stay on top of them even if you're not already perimenopausal.

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
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Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health
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The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar

Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.

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The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss
The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss

Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.

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The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure
The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.

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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.