Exploring the link between diabetes & early menopause
By: Shona Wilkinson
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. However, recent research suggests that women with diabetes may experience this transition earlier than their non-diabetic counterparts. There is an intriguing connection between diabetes and early menopause that goes both ways. Here we discuss and consider the role of hormones and diet in managing these conditions.
The link between diabetes and early menopause
Studies reveal that women with diabetes are more likely to enter menopause at an earlier age. This finding raises questions about the potential bidirectional relationship between diabetes and menopause.
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Does menopause influence diabetes risk?
Research suggests that the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can have an impact on a woman's risk of developing diabetes. The drop in oestrogen levels during menopause may affect how cells respond to insulin, leading to insulin resistance. This hormonal shift can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in women who are already predisposed to the condition due to genetics or lifestyle factors.
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Oestrogen and progesterone's role in insulin response
Oestrogen and progesterone, two key hormones in a woman's reproductive cycle, can influence how cells respond to insulin. Oestrogen tends to have a positive effect, improving insulin sensitivity and promoting glucose uptake by cells. On the other hand, progesterone's effects on insulin are more complex, potentially causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
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Types of diabetes linked to early menopause
While the exact type of diabetes associated with early menopause is not specified in the available research, it is important to note that the risk appears to be more pronounced in women with type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is often linked to lifestyle factors including obesity and physical inactivity, both of which can affect the timing of menopause.
The role of diet in managing diabetes and menopause
Diet plays a crucial role in managing both diabetes and the symptoms of menopause. A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean or plant proteins and healthy fats can help stabilise blood sugar levels and manage weight, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more in 'Nutrition for the menopause'.
Additionally, certain foods, including those high in phytoestrogens (e.g. soy products), may help alleviate some menopausal symptoms by mimicking oestrogen's effects in the body. You can also find phytoestrogens in MenoFriend®, an acclaimed plant-based formula including clinically tested botanicals and minerals to relieve common symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause.
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Preventing diabetes during menopause
To reduce the risk of developing diabetes during menopause, women should focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are key factors in diabetes prevention. Consulting a healthcare provider for regular check-ups and diabetes screenings is also essential, especially for those with a family history of diabetes.
Managing blood sugar during menopause
Women experiencing menopause should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. If insulin resistance becomes a concern, intervention may be necessary.
- Chromium: Chromium is needed by the body to process blood sugar effectively and a deficiency may lead to raised blood sugar levels.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is well known for its ability to manage blood sugar levels. Adding cinnamon to foods and drinking cinnamon tea may help support blood sugar management when used alongside dietary changes. You may be interested in trying our 'Apple Rose Tarts (Ve)' recipe.
- Complex carbohydrates and protein: Consuming a mix of complex carbohydrates and protein for every meal and snack helps to steady blood sugar levels and avoid peaks and dips. This helps you maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day. Discover the 'Best protein sources on a plant-based diet'.
- Cut the sugar: Eliminate all sugar and refined foods from your diet if you want to reduce your risk of diabetes and early menopause. Instead, enjoy wholegrains and fresh fruit (no more than 2 portions of fruit per day though). You may enjoy reading 'Exposed: Plant-sweeteners and type 2 diabetes'.
- Exercise: Regular exercise aids in the management of blood sugar control and reduces insulin resistance (pre-diabetes). It's best to partake in a variety of exercises, both endurance and strength and resistance. Try different types of exercises to find something you enjoy and can commit to long-term.
- Intermittent fasting: There are a few ways to do intermittent fasting, but most of them have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar control.
- Supplements: Consider a plant-based supplement like GlucoBalance®, a comprehensive formula for managing blood glucose levels, blood sugar levels and your insulin function including Chromium, Cinnamon, Fenugreek Seed, Bitter Melon, Inositol and Apple Cider Vinegar in their most bioavailable forms. You may also be interested in 'Why the hype about Apple Cider Vinegar?'.
The link between diabetes and early menopause is a complex and intriguing one. Hormones like oestrogen and progesterone play significant roles in this relationship, affecting insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
To reduce the risk of diabetes during menopause, it's essential for women to prioritise a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
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