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5 Ways to Boost Health During Menopause (Plus a Heart-Healthy Recipe!)

If you search Google for information on menopause and diet, you’ll find over 41 million pages of information. I’m not quite through all of them. Most experts, from Johns Hopkins Medicine to the Red Hot Mamas, agreed on the foods or drinks associated with hot flashes and night sweats. Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can turn on your inner oven. They recommended plant estrogens, found in: soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, tofu, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables for overall health, including heart health, but the research does not suggest these foods reduce hot flashes. The also encourage limiting saturated fats and sugars.

Two studies had me hungry for more: the Menopause Journal reports women who lost 10 % of their body weight on a low-fat diet high with grains, fruits and vegetables decreased or eliminated their menopausal hot flashes and night sweats. Previous research showed that women who gained weight during menopause had more menopausal symptoms. The second stated: Menopausal flashes were most often observed when blood glucose was low, and the frequency of flashes is lessened when the blood glucose level is in the upper range of normal. You may think that 100-calorie mini Snickers is a good choice but your blood sugar will spike, causing insulin to rise, which drops your blood sugar making you to want to jump in a pool of ice. Choose a fresh orange and walnuts instead. In a nutshell, we want to prevent the blood sugar roller coaster.

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This article is sponsored by Health Done Right™

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Weight gain related to menopause

Women gain weight after the menopause due to the natural loss of muscle mass, which slows down their metabolism. On top of that, the ovaries stop producing estrogen so the abdominal fat cells pick up the slack for it’s the only place that more estrogen can be generated meaning weight gain accumulates in this most undesirable area: the belly or abdomen. This is the type of fat that puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and liver problems.

The reality is you may have to cut your calories if you wish to not gain weight during menopause. There are no quick solutions, but we now have an enormous amount of scientific information to help people take and keep their weight off by using decades of weight loss and maintenance research.

Eat right, embrace your age, and thank your lucky stars that the changes that are necessary to naturally treat your menopausal symptoms will also decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia.

5 ways to stabilize your blood sugar, reduce weight, and minimize hot flashes

  1. Get protein: preferably 30 grams at every meal.
  2. Don’t be a “Biggest Loser.” Cut calories so you only lose 1-2 pounds per week.
  3. Eat smart-carbs: fresh fruit, veggies, & whole grains.
  4. Show your gut some love: eat whole grains, natural prebiotics, resistant starches, and high fiber foods.
  5. Say ‘no thanks’ to the sugary beverage.

Wine lovers can enjoy with sulfite-free Napa Valley Naturals wine, or organic wine (which has no added sulfites), if traditional wine ignites your fire.

Poached Salmon with tomato relish and a side of black beans and rice

Indulge with this perfectly balance meal, which is designed to keep your blood sugar off the roller coaster. Salmon has heart healthy fats and enough protein to control your appetite. Brown rice and beans will slow the digestion of your food, and fresh fruit adds a perfect amount of fiber. Fruit is the new dessert!

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
Serving Size: 1 salmon steak and ¼ cup relish

For spicy tomato relish:

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (hold if having frequent hot flashes)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

For salmon:

  • 4 salmon steaks or pieces, preferably wild-caught, 4 ounces each
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, thickly sliced
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1 small onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. To prepare relish, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and set aside.
  2. Using a large pan, bring water to a boil and add peppercorns, lemon slices, parsley, onion, and bay leaves.
  3. Lower heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and let flavors infuse for 5 minutes. Add salmon steaks and make sure they are covered with water (add additional water if needed).
  4. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Fish should flake easily with a fork in the thickest part (minimum internal temperature of 145 °F). Don’t let water boil or fish will become tough.

Black Beans and Rice

Prep Time: 5 minutes    Cook Tim: 45 minutes Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups black beans with liquid
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds or powder
  • Juice from one lime (1 Tablespoon)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or salt substitute
  • Hot Sauce – to taste if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. Bring water in a pan to a boil. Add rice and a tight lid. Reduce to a simmer until cooked; 35-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. In a large skillet, add black beans with liquid, salt, onions, garlic, cumin, and lime juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until half of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Remove from heat and add cilantro and spinach. Cover and let wilt. Mix the rice with the black beans.

For a 400 calorie meal, enjoy one serving of salmon with relish, one serving of beans and rice, and 1 cup of fresh strawberries. Start licking your chops. Bon Appetite!

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Rebecca Burdette MD is board-certified in OB/GYN and Obesity medicine, and the creator of Dr. Becky’s Health Done Right™, an online weight loss and wellness plan. Learn how Dr. Becky’s Health Done Right can change your diet, your exercise routine and the very way you think about eating! Visit her website here.

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