Type 2 Diabetes, Menopause or both?
So much of smooth running of our bodies depends on good hormone balance and regulation.
When we think of hormones governing menopause we tend to go to the obvious oestrogen/progesterone/testosterone but other hormones like insulin and cortisol will also have a huge impact on how smoothly we transition into our ‘second spring’.
This is especially important for those ladies who may be at risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) or who may have it. Bearing in mind that 50% of those that have it are undiagnosed many people are living with it unknowingly. Unfortunately, this put them at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Even for those with prediabetes or raised blood sugars there are lots of reasons to rectify this both from a menopause and a diabetes perspective.
So, while on one hand having a diagnosis of both may be the perfect storm please take heart from the fact that by addressing the lifestyle tips shared here you will have a much smoother and gentler menopause and you will be well on your way to avoiding or reversing type 2 diabetes.
If you are wondering if you might be at risk of T2D here are some of the more common risk factors:
- Apple shape – carry excess weight in tummy area
- Eat a lot of refined foods containing white flour or sugar
- Had gestational diabetes
- Have a lot of stress in your life or experienced some stressful events
- Have a poor sleep pattern
- Poor exercise and movement routine
- Negative relationships
- A tendency to comfort eat
Most people tend to have more than one of these risk factors and while most people are overweight it is estimated that up to 20% are not. If you recognise other risk factors in yourself do bear in mind that none of us are immune.
Bearing in mind that post menopause we tend to store more fat and our glucose metabolism tends to be less efficient we need to get clever about how and what we eat and what else in our lives might increase our risks of high blood sugars.
Let’s look at 7 things you can do that will significantly reduce your menopause symptoms and either reduce your risk of diabetes or help normalize you blood sugars.
- Eat Healthy Fats
Please avoid any food that has a ‘low-fat’ label. The fat is generally replaced with sugar and other artificial additives that often promote weight gain!
Fat is a really important part of our diet and is in fact crucial to optimal health. Its an important food both in hormone balance and in normalizing blood sugars. In fact, healthy fats can lead to weight loss and can be anti-inflammatory. Ideally you want to focus on omega 3 fats which are found in salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout.
Other healthy fats are found in abundance in nuts particularly walnuts and almonds, seeds such as chia seeds, free range eggs and avocados.
Some healthy fats can also be found in really good quality meat that’s hormone free. Small portions are sufficient, eg the size of a deck of cards
- Avoid SUGAR, WHITE FLOUR, WHITE RICE, WHITE PASTA
In truth, most foods containing white flour are nutritionally compromised so they are not only damaging to your blood sugar, they can also promote ill health. Many of them have added sugar too.
White rice also causes spikes in your blood sugar and should be avoided.
Instead have small portions of whole-food carbs ideally aiming for a portion size is no more than quarter your average sized plate.
Limit your bread intake but if you do have it take rye, pumpernickel, oat or whole-wheat bread. And make sure it is sugar free!
- Stay Hydrated
Do you hit the minimum recommendation of 1.5 litres of water per day?
Once you have achieved that consistently aim for 2 litres’, it’s hugely beneficial and you are less likely to eat too much.
There are a few ways of doing it though; my personal tip is to boil it, I find it much easier to drink warm water and its very soothing.
Also drinking water with fresh lemon juice after a meal may help slow the release of sugar from carbohydrates.
But if you don’t fancy that you can take herbal teas and that counts as part of your water intake.
- Eat More Veggies
An easy rule of thumb is that at least half of your plate should always covered in vegetables. Ideally this will be a combination of green leafy vegetables and a variety of healthy red, orange and other deep colored vegetables that are hugely nutritious. Think of them as powerhouses that are full of healing qualities. When you start to focus on vegetables you will be surprised how you can fit them into every meal.
Start your day with a green smoothie, a fantastic habit to get into.
Have carrot and cucumber with a hummus or guacamole dip as a snack.
Add spinach to your eggs, sandwiches etc, it’s so easy!
- Move as well as exercise!
The benefits of exercise in diabetes, menopause, stress, sleep and emotional health are phenomenal.
Start with prioiritising a minimum of half an hour per day and then up the pace and intensity as much as you can.
As well as doing your exercise session every day look for opportunities to walk or do anything that involves movement. It all counts! Look for the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car a block away from your destination, go for a walk at lunchtime. If someone want to meet you tell them walk with you! Just get moving.
6. Stress is Huge!
Cortisol is our stress hormone. Big stressful events or constant stressors in our lives like toxic relationships, constantly worrying, or rushing non-stop can raise our cortisol levels. This can result in a rise in blood sugar which can worsen symptoms of menopause and T2D.
Mindfulness, meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, doing things you love are just a few of the things that you can do to help minimise your stress. Do you best to avoid stressful situations and importantly learn to say ‘no’ if you are serving others at the expense of your own health.
Sleep underpins our health and here is firm scientific evidence that poor sleep causes insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep also impedes clear thinking which in turn inhibits healthy food choices or the will to exercise.
Aim to get to bed at the same time every night, allowing for 7-8 hours sleep and get up at the same time in the morning. This will have a positive effect both on blood sugars and menopause symptoms. Be as consistent as possible within your routine.
If you have difficulty getting to sleep or waking a lot, avoid screens for at least 90 minutes before bed, the blue light from screens can disrupt our sleep hormones. Soft red light on the other hand is sleep promoting so get those red bulbs out and put them in your lamps! Try relaxation techniques, have a bath with magnesium salts or lavender or do some gratitude journaling before going to bed.
Try everything you can to have a good night’s sleep.
Implementing these tips will work wonders both for your blood sugar and for your menopause symptoms. It will decrease inflammation in your body which is often at the root of the unpleasant symptoms and side effects we experience from both conditions.
Not only that it will promote cell repair and have an anti-aging effect.
Your weight will be easier to manage and you will be glowing!
for more information on menopause go to www.mysecondspring.ie