- by guest blogger, Susan Grimes, aka "yogi Suzi".
Summer is here and for some women, so is the belly – the belly they had tried to dwindle down in the spring seems to be perhaps even a bit bigger than it was a few months back. Before getting discouraged, you may wish to know that there are significant hormonal shifts that take place as we enter our late forties and early fifties. The hormones necessary for reproduction are tuning down and in addition there are pancreatic hormonal shifts happening – particularly in the insulin and glucagon pathways.
The insulin receptors, like everything else in the body, become insensitive through repetition. Repeatedly feeding the body sugars and carbs causes the insulin receptors to be constantly stimulated since the function of insulin secretion is to clear sugar from the blood and burn fat. This repetitive stimulation of the insulin receptors causes many of us to become insulin resistant thus reducing the ability of the pancreas to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. This means that the blood sugar levels remain elevated and the body more easily stores fat.
Both men and women learn to tolerate higher blood sugar levels than what is right for optimal health because of the constant exposure to sweets and simple carbohydrates. The more we partake, socially and/or at home in our sweet feasting the more insulin resistant we become and our blood sugar levels, as we age, continue to climb even higher. For women, insulin resistance can mean constant elevated levels of inflammation in the body. This inflammation can make women feel heavy and puffy (inflamed) and can also damage the sensitive reproductive organs.
The insulin resistance and inflammation also compromise liver efficiency as well as the quality of the blood which in turn causes the body to be in a state of chronic estrogen excess. In addition, we all absorbed a significant amount of xeno estrogen from the environment and all the manufactured products in our lives. This only adds to our estrogenic excess which accelerates degenerative activity in the body.
Some people feel a bit pudgy after age fifty. One way to break this pattern is to develop interests, activities and relationships to put us more deeply in touch with fundamental joy and happiness. Doing so insures that sweet foods won’t become more of a consolation for a less than excellent mood as the years tick by.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that women need to maintain good quality blood and preserve the moist Yin Essences in the body in order to stay youthful and healthy. Elevated inflammation, again, starting with consumption of too many simple sugars, toxifies the blood and accelerates the consumption of these essences. Red hot ‘in flame’ inflammation dries up the deeper yin essences leading to dry skin, hot flashes, and irritability. Insulin resistance shows up first in the belly – we feel, and even become, apple shaped.
The best belly blasting foods are: Green, yellow, red, white, and purple vegetables along with olive oil, hemp seeds, avocados, beans, lentils, quinoa, amaranth and small amounts of high quality animal products (if desired). The great news is you can still have sweets! Thing is, after eating a hardy salad, stir fry or soup, a small amount of 70% cacao dark chocolate or a tiny cookie will be all that your body desires.
To reset the body and reverse this trend it does help to reduce overall carbohydrate consumption for two consecutive days each week. On these days, eat more light green vegetables, high quality oils, and perhaps a bit more protein. Grass fed whey protein, organic eggs, and Greek yogurt are three wonderful protein foods.