Belly Fat: Is it More Than Just Weight Gain?
Did you know there’s a specific reason why belly fat increases as we enter menopause?
Well, there is! Prior to menopause and throughout our reproductive years, oestrogen is primarily made by the ovaries. However, oestrogen production by the ovaries declines and our adrenal glands take over when perimenopause commences.
Interestingly, our fat cells also begin producing oestrogen around the same time. Oestrogen starts being synthesized with the conversion of androgenic hormones into oestrogen. This process is called aromatization. Aromatization of androgens to estrogens primarily takes place in the fat tissue of our breasts and stomach and quickly becomes one of the most important sources of estrogen in circulation and for peripheral tissues.
Stress and belly fat
Now I guess you’re thinking that the adrenals aren’t doing the job they’re supposed to do, right? If the adrenal glands are already designed to produce enough oestrogen come menopause, why is it still so hard for some women to let go of their belly fat?
Chance are, you're under chronic stress. This means that your adrenal glands are busy prioritising the production of cortisol (stress hormone) while oestrogen production is put on the back burner. Your body is relying heavily on its fat stores; therefore, chances of it letting it go are quite low.
This also explains why larger women tend to have a smoother transition to menopause than very slender women – they simply have more circulating oestrogen!
Why adrenal support is vital
As previously mentioned, the adrenal glands take on the job of oestrogen production once the ovaries stop producing the hormone. Where there is some sort of HPA axis dysregulation due to stress, adrenal insufficiency can ensue. The Happy Hormones herbal formula can provide support to our hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA). This means it encourages our adrenals to continue producing the 30% of the sex hormones they're designed to do upon the commencement of menopause. This also signifies that your body can stop relying so heavily on your breasts and belly fat for oestrogen.
We now know that an increase in breast size and abdominal adiposity during perimenopause is due to our body supporting its oestrogen requirements. In fact, it’s actually a protective mechanism! Unfortunately, we also know increased fat mass around the belly can lead to insulin resistance and a higher risk of heart disease. The best approach then is to support oestrogen production via the adrenal glands instead.
While it’s difficult to totally prevent the accumulation of belly fat during menopause, we can significantly lessen its buildup. Besides relying on our Happy Hormones formula, it will require a holistic approach consisting of the right diet and healthy lifestyle practices, as well as ramping up your exercise regime. You should also have an effective stress management strategy in place. We suggest you engage in yoga and meditation practices to help calm both the mind and body and allow healing to take place. Additionally, you'll find loads of healthy meal choices that can help with weight management in our Recipes section.