The Truth About Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome – Part 1
Truth be told, very few women are aware of menopausal metabolic syndrome (MMS) or even the process their body undergoes during menopause. Menopause has gotten a pretty bad reputation with related hot flashes and mood swings. In order to deal accordingly with the actual physical process the body is undergoing, it is extremely important to separate all the facts from fiction to make the transition from one phase of a woman’s life to another much easier.
With all of the body’s independent systems integrated to function together in a uniform operation, when one change enters our bodies, such as menopause, it could affect many other systems directly and indirectly. We will focus on the correlation between menopause and the metabolic system and how one affects the other, causing menopausal metabolic syndrome.
The Metabolic System
The metabolic system includes life sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of all living organisms. Their main purposes are:
- the conversion of food/fuel to energy for the operation of cellular the cellular process
- the conversion of food/fuel for the building blocks to proteins, lipids, some carbohydrates and nucleic acids
- the elimination of nitrogenous wastes.
All of these allow organisms to grow then reproduce, respond to their specific environments, and maintain their molecular structures. It is the sum of all chemical reactions that occur in the human body and all living things. Many think of it only in terms of digestion, however, with its involvement of transporting substances to and from various cells, its importance in the medical field is of complete importance. It has now been scientifically proven that menopause is a primary reason for metabolic dysfunction. Studies have shown that when women enter menopause, they have increased risk for MMS, a subset of the large clinical condition known as metabolic syndrome, and only combined therapy of BHRTY and Metformin with nutrition therapy could reduce and prevent the risk.
Organs of the Metabolic System
The metabolic system is a series of smaller systems working together in a team formation. The system includes the pancreas, liver, thyroid and hypothalamus, a section of the brain that is responsible for the production of many of the essential hormones and the chemical substances that help control different cells and organs in the body. Just to put the importance of this system into perspective, the hormones secreted from the hypothalamus alone control physiologic functions such as temperature regulation, thirst, hunger, sleep, mood, sex drive, and the release of other hormones within the body.
Although small in size, this section of the brain also houses the pituitary gland, as well as other glands in the body, and is involved in many necessary processes such as behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine functions such as metabolism, growth, and development. All these systems combined play very specific roles, such as digesting food, turning that food into energy, and then processing the energy. If treated well, they will perform the jobs they were created for at optimal levels.
The thyroid controls how the energy of the body is used. If this system is not functioning properly, it is most likely a result of genetic predisposition. However, there are conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease that affect the thyroid; all lead to the body’s inability to metabolize efficiently. For example, if one suffers from a disorder known as hypothyroidism, they do not metabolize fat very easily. On the opposite side of the spectrum is hyperthyroidism, which leads to an overactive metabolism and could prevent a person from gaining weight.
While many like to blame their thyroid when they can’t lose weight, thyroid conditions only contribute to a small portion of obesity cases. In the unfortunate cases where a tumor is found on the thyroid, its removal will most likely cause weight gain in the individual who will then have trouble getting rid of it.
The liver is the big organ in the metabolic system that is responsible for processing the sugars and producing the bile to eliminate fat. If a person’s diet is unhealthy and consists of excess fat, the liver may not be able to produce enough bile to break it all down, digest and excrete it efficiently, resulting in a number of health problems and concerns. This could also be the case if the liver malfunction is caused by a disease or injured by a person who drinks too much alcohol.
Next, in the metabolic system, we find the pancreas. Upon digestion, calories become fuel. Glucose and blood sugar are converted into energy. The pancreas creates the insulin in which the body uses to regulate blood sugar and sends it to the parts of the body which need it the most. If the body falls short of glucose, a person can feel shaky, indicating, it needs more glucose. If the system receives too much, the energy is then stored, and turned into fat. The pancreas also works closely with the GI tract by releasing enzymes to process food.
The GI Tract, or gastrointestinal tract in good condition, will process food easily. Bacteria are in order and balanced with the good bacteria consuming the bad, and maintaining a comfortable working system. When a person is unbalanced they may suffer from constipation or the reverse side of the spectrum, diarrhea. They are then unable to absorb nutrients properly that are required for the body to produce energy, or for the vitamins and minerals to fully support the intended organs. Diarrhea also leads to dehydration, causing injury to the liver.
Keeping a Healthy Metabolic System
In essence, the metabolic system is in charge of running our entire energy system. The best way for its optimal operations and a healthy digestion process is:
- Eat clean, organic and well-balanced with a diet full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals. Reduce fat, especially greasy foods which require more bile production and take longer time frames to break down. Good fats, on the other hand, will contribute to a healthy metabolism by promoting muscle development. Reduce refined carbohydrates which will lead to insulin resistance and the body will not be able to properly distribute energy or handle glucose.
- Drink plenty of purified and detoxified water
- Consume probiotics, choices are available in many forms such as supplements, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, or fermented fruits and vegetables
- Add more exercise. Rather than focusing on aerobic exercise, focus on muscle-building. If done properly, weight lifting can bring up a person’s heart rate, which is important for circulation moving oxygen around the body through the red blood cells and keeping everything in the metabolic system, as well as the body, functioning properly. Muscles also burn fat without even doing anything, so working them is extremely beneficial.
Due to the importance of the metabolic system for proper functioning of the human body, as described in detail above, it has become a primary focus of anti-aging and is being examined thoroughly from many different aspects to ensure its regulation. In particular, and in the forefront of this article, is its association to menopause, and menopausal metabolic syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome itself consists of a combination of factors that cause risk that include hypertension, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, and atherogenic dyslipidemia, and greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As will be discussed in more detail, estrogen replacement therapy is often used to improve insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of the development of diabetes.
The key elements in managing the menopausal metabolic syndrome are weight reduction, increasing physical activity, and diet modification. If blood pressure, lipid and glycemic control are not achieved through these interventions then pharmacological therapy will be required.
In reference to gender, before the age of 50 men have been diagnosed with the syndrome more often. Then after 50, the average of women have an incredible increase of the disease. Menopausal metabolic syndrome also changes one’s emotional status as well as their ability to fight against stress, which in itself is a precursor to an abundant amount of illnesses.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Are there preventative measures to be taken to avoid Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome?
Yes, new research discovered and documented by Dr. Natalia Chekalska, MD, Ph.D. has indicated that women who enter menopause have an increased risk for developing Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome, and can reduce and prevent the risk of its onset by a combined therapy of BHRTY, Metformin, and nutrition therapy.