Common Menopause Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

Common Menopause Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

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A lot of information about menopause management is out there, and not all of it gives you the full picture.

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AUG. 31, 2023   3 MINUTE READ

Life transitions can be challenging, and misinformation can make it that much harder to approach a new life stage with confidence. For example, there are many misconceptions and myths about menopause that may leave you feeling unsure about what to expect or how to best navigate this transition.

Menopause isn't a condition that needs to be prevented or cured. It's a common milestone to be better understood. Read on to learn more about what happens during menopause and uncover the truths behind the most common menopause myths.

The Basics of Menopause

When you enter menopause, usually between ages 45 and 55, your ovaries stop releasing eggs and your estrogen levels decline. Various symptoms result from this hormonal shift, such as hot flashes and mood swings. Your risk of certain health conditions, including heart disease and osteoporosis, also increases during menopause.

A lot of information exists about how to manage common effects and symptoms of menopause, with most of it likely well-intentioned. But some lifestyle tips can be misleading and discouraging, resulting in confusion, frustration and an overall negative feeling toward menopause.

Menopause Myths and Misconceptions

Here are three of the most common menopause myths unpacked and reframed.

Myth #1: Weight Gain Caused by Unbalanced Hormones Is Inevitable

Due to the metabolic changes that occur during menopause, managing your weight becomes more difficult during this time. But extra pounds don't just appear overnight, and not every woman experiences weight gain in the same way. Maintaining a healthy weight is about understanding your body's changing needs over your lifetime. Your metabolism slows as you get older with or without the effects of menopause, and you must adapt your lifestyle to meet those changing needs.

"Women's metabolisms slow about 10 years earlier than they do for men. Gaining weight isn't a given. You just have to be that much more diligent about exercise and what you eat due to that metabolic difference."

Mary Weiler, nutrition scientist at Abbott specializing in women's health

To support a healthy weight during menopause, prioritize regular exercise and eat balanced meals. A Mediterranean-style eating approach can help support your weight management goals during this life stage, and eating smaller meals spread throughout the day can help support energy and prevent hunger.

Myth #2: You Must Eliminate Carbohydrates to Avoid Insulin Resistance

No data confirms that going carbohydrate-free will reduce your risk of insulin resistance during menopause. Simply put, eliminating carbohydrates from your plate in the hopes of avoiding insulin resistance (or promoting weight loss) isn't the answer.

"Your body needs all the major macronutrients, including protein, fat and carbohydrates," said Weiler. "If you don't get enough carbs, your body will start to break down protein and convert it into glucose to provide that essential energy source for your brain and red blood cells."

When it comes to how you approach carbohydrates, it's all about balance and making good choices, such as prioritizing whole grains, complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods. "You metabolize carbohydrates differently when they're more complex or are in conjunction with protein and fat. A meal that combines all macronutrients slows the entry of sugar into our system, eliminating blood sugar spikes and lows," Weiler explained.

For example, pair a lean piece of chicken with brown rice or an ear of corn as your carbohydrate. Adopting this strategy can help provide your body with slow, steady energy throughout the day.

Myth #3: Menopause Is the Same for All Women

Menopause is a series of symptoms related to hormonal changes. The nature and timing of these changes can vary according to you and your lifestyle. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to managing menopause symptoms. Finding a healthcare provider who can create an individualized care plan to help you navigate this life stage is key, whether that means hormone replacement therapy, a nutrition plan or an exercise regimen to support bone health.

The World Health Organization notes that social factors can also influence how you experience menopause, including gender roles and cultural norms surrounding this life stage. In conjunction with biological differences, these sociocultural factors can further distinguish women's experiences during menopause.

Navigating Menopause With Confidence

Menopause is a rite of passage for all women. You may not all have the same journey, but understanding the context behind common myths about menopause can give you a clearer picture of what to expect and how to make the best choices for your body. Ultimately, arming yourself with accurate information can help you navigate this transition with confidence and take charge of your menopausal experience.

Top 5 Nutrition Tips for Women to Support Healthy Aging

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Aging is a natural process that every woman goes through. Although the passing decades are accompanied by bodily wear and tear, good nutrition and an active lifestyle can help women mitigate declines in muscle and joint health, bone density and skin integrity. Understanding how nutrition affects the changes you experience with aging can help you make informed choices about your health.

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8 Ways Muscle Loss Impacts Health | Abbott Nutrition

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Are you tired by the time you reach the top of the stairs? Have you been ill or hospitalized and lost weight recently? Are you walking slower than normal? These can all be signs of muscle loss, and it's more common than you might think.

Advanced muscle loss, or sarcopenia, affects one in three adults ages 50 and older, according to Age and Ageing review.

"You have more than 600 muscles in your body, which account for up to 40 percent of your body weight — that's almost half of you," explains Suzette Pereira, Ph.D., a researcher specializing in muscle health at Abbott. "While aging is natural, losing too much muscle is not and can directly impact your mobility, strength and energy levels, immune system, and even organ function."

Because muscles are intrinsically linked to so many systems, research published in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine argues that a person's muscle mass is a far better predictor of health than BMI, orbody mass index.

What are the risks of losing too much muscle? Read on to learn about the impacts and then check out “5 Ways to Age-Proof Your Muscles” for simple diet and exercise strategies to stay active and strong – so you can do the things you love. 

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