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Blog: MenoPause ~ take time to think about it

  • Check your mood swing

    by Margery Gass | Jun 04, 2014

    It may not be menopause that’s making you bark at your spouse. You may be getting angry just because you’re hungry. Researchers at Ohio State University measured couples’ blood sugar in the morning and at night and found low nighttime levels predicted who would lash out at a spouse that evening. Measuring just how angry took a creative approach. All the participants got a voodoo doll representing their spouse and 51 pins and were told to stick in pins each night in a way that showed their level of anger. The researchers found that the number of pins tracked with the blood sugar levels. In addition, with low blood sugar, the participants were also more likely to blast their spouse with loud sounds when they beat them at a competitive game. Eating something sweet can raise blood sugar quickly, so a little desert after dinner may not be a bad thing. But if that shot of sugar calms you down, avoid the blood sugar highs and lows by eating small, healthy snacks through the day, and keep fruit on hand, which can raise your blood sugar and give you some healthy fiber as well.

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  • Another apple a day could keep the statins away

    by Margery Gass | Jan 15, 2014

    If everyone ate an extra apple a day, we might save as many lives as statin drugs save for everyone over age 50, say British researchers. No, it doesn’t mean that if you take a statin you should toss out your pills and eat more apples instead. But it does show that even simple changes in diet could do wonders before you have to use costly drugs. The researchers at Oxford University used a mathematical model to show that this simple step toward getting your recommended five fruits and vegetables a day could prevent or delay some 8,500 heart attacks and strokes every year in Britain.

    At a time when achieving new heart disease guidelines might mean having nearly a third of all adults take statins, it’s good to remember we could do as much by changing our diets—and by remembering your mother was right when she said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Thanks, Mom.

    Go comment!
  • How much (or how little) salt do you need?

    by Margery Gass | May 16, 2013
    New research says there’s no good reason for most Americans to limit their total sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (about a teaspoon) and for Americans at high risk of heart disease and stroke to 1,500 mg per day (about 1/2 teaspoon)—the levels now recommended by government guidelines.

    However, the American Heart Association is still concerned about the large amount of salt in processed food. Most Americans actually get about 3,400 mg (about 1.5 teaspoons) of sodium per day, partially because of their intake of processed and prepackaged foods. These folks should still lower their intake.

    For those at higher risk (people over 50, African Americans, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease), cutting sodium intake is more important, but moderation is important—the Institute of Medicine points out that sodium intake must not be too low or it can actually increase risk of heart attack and health problems. Sodium is needed in the body to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers, and maintain balance of fluids.

    What to do:
    If you’re under 50 with normal blood pressure (under 120/80 mm Hg) and in good health, you probably don’t have to worry about sodium intake—around 2,300 mg per day is a safe amount for you.

    If you are high risk, 1,500 mg per day remains a good limit. Just don’t go too low! Eat mostly fresh foods, watch the salt content of condiments, read labels, take care when eating in restaurants, and use nonsalty spices to liven up your meals.
    Go comment!
  • Just the facts about weight loss

    by Margery Gass | Apr 29, 2013
     A group of nutrition and diet experts laid out evidence-supported facts about weight loss in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, as well as several myths. Here are the facts they presented regarding reaching or maintaining a healthy weight:

    1. Genetics do play a big role in obesity, but your genes aren’t your weight destiny. Changing your lifestyle can promote just as much weight loss as the medications used for this purpose today.

    2. Reducing your calorie intake can help you lose weight, but trying to go on a specific “diet” doesn’t work well in the long term —it’s the calorie reduction that counts.

    3. Exercise makes you healthier, no matter how much you weigh or whether you lose weight.

    4. You can’t go on a diet, lose weight, and go back to your old habits. You have to maintain changes to maintain your weight loss.

    5. Greater structuring of your meals and use of meal-replacement products promotes more weight loss than simply attempting moderation.

    6. Some medications can help you lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off, but only as long as you take the medication.

    7. Weight loss surgery, if it’s right for you, can result in long-term weight loss and keep diabetes and more dire consequences of obesity at bay.

    Go comment!
  • A sweet excuse to eat cocoa and chocolate

    by Margery Gass | Sep 28, 2012

    But not too much! The good news keeps on coming about the potential benefits of cocoa flavonols. They may improve your mood, cut through mind fog, and take your blood pressure down a few notches. One of the latest studies on these effects hinted that chocolate with medium and high levels of cocoa flavonols could improve visual attention and verbal skills in elderly people. Cocoa powder, rather than chocolate bars, may be the best way to get your flavonols with the least amount of calories. The short-term visual/verbal study also showed that the chocolate drinkers had decreased insulin resistance (a group of risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease), blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation (which gauges cellular damage).

    A recent dark chocolate/blood pressure study, which reviewed all of the reliable studies published, concluded that dark chocolate can bring down blood pressure a few points—2.8/2.2 mm Hg. Even a couple points helps reduce your cardiovascular risk. Overdoing it on chocolate bars can make you gain weight and wipe out the benefits. Just an ounce should do. 

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  • A meno-menu: 6 simple instructions for a healthy diet

    by Margery Gass | Sep 26, 2012
    • Do eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. Increasing intake of vegetables and fruits helps meet nutritional and fiber requirements without adding a substantial number of calories. A new study of fruit and veggie intake in midlife and older women shows that the antioxidants in these foods cut their risk of heart attack. Colorful fruits and vegetables tend to be the most nutritious.
    • Don’t add sugar or sweeteners to foods and beverages. Go for naturally sweet options such as fruit daily dietary goals for women at menopause suggest 1 1/2 servings of fruit per day. Keep in mind that many fruit juices are very high in calories. If you drink fruit juices, consider pouring them over a full glass of ice to dilute the calorie load while getting more fluid.
    • Do choose whole grains. While the optimal intake of grains (such as cereal, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta) is 5 to 6 oz, at least 3 oz should be whole grains and for good reason. According to a variety of health studies summarized by the Whole Grains Council, consuming whole grains can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and colorectal cancer, and can also help reduce weight. Yum!
    • Don’t aggravate hot flashes with possible food “triggers” such as spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine.
    • Do consume fish, especially oily fish such as salmon, at least twice a week. Two servings (about 8 oz) provide a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with a decreased risk of sudden death and death from heart disease in adults.
    • Don’t reach for the salt shaker. Reducing sodium intake can prevent or help control high blood pressure.
    Go comment!
  • A focus on foods, not calories, can help you lose menopause weight

    by Margery Gass | Sep 06, 2012
    Many women gain weight after menopause and have a tough time losing it. Counting calories is cumbersome—and it doesn’t seem to work for many women.

    A focus on changing just a few food habits—such as eating more vegetables and fruits but fewer sweets and less meat—looks like the simple recipe for success, found researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.

    They studied 481 overweight and obese women after menopause. Some of the women got intensive help—frequent and regular counseling from nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and psychologists, while others just got some occasional advice on general health. But no matter which group they were in, the women who consumed fewer deserts and sugary drinks lost weight in the short and long term.

    Women who lost weight in the short term were also those who cut down on fried foods and eating out and upped their fish consumption. But the women who cut down on the sugar, increased their fruit and vegetable intake, and decreased their intake of meats and cheeses were the ones who were successful in the long run. And that’s a pretty easy recipe.
    Go comment!

MenoPause: the blog!

Posts to our Blog are written by NAMS staff members and Dr. Margery Gass. All posts are reviewed and edited by Dr. Gass. We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP
NAMS Executive Director

An internationally recognized leader in the field of menopause, Dr. Gass became Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society in 2010. Dr. Gass has been an investigator on numerous research projects, including serving as a principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative, and has published and presented on a wide range of topics related to menopause, including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and hormone therapy.

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