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Complementary Fitness 17 June newsletter

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Welcome to this week’s newsletter & updates:

We’ve mentioned sarcopenia before which is muscle loss/atrophy as we age.

This recent article is very interesting and serves as a reminder on why we should exercise, be active and move every day.  The article’s called ‘How to protect yourself from muscle atrophy and explains:


Sarcopenia is the rapid loss of muscle mass and function – essentially, muscle atrophy.  For many people (especially women), it’s a common side effect of getting older but it doesn’t have to be.

·        The research: Looking at a group of individuals 65+, researchers assessed their dietary protein intake, physical activity, and sarcopenia risk.

·        The researchers were actually aiming to find if they could identify probable sarcopenia development, and if protein and movement were meaningful ways to screen for it.

·        The findings:  They found that low protein intake and low physical activity levels can, in fact, be a useful indicator of a lower percentage of muscle mass, higher fat mass, poorer strength, and reduced physical function.

o   For this study low protein intake was defined as eating less than 1g per kilogram of body weight per day and low physical activity was less than 150 minutes of movement per week.

  • Important to note that these outcomes were more pronounced for women participants, with women experiencing poorer strength and function when consuming less protein and moving less.

So if we want to reduce the risk of muscle atrophy later in life, start thinking about protein consumption and movement now.  To find out more about how to get more protein and the amount to consume, here’s an article that might help:

How To Eat More Protein: Tips, Foods, & A Sample Meal Plan | mindbodygreen


I attended an online webinar for fitness professionals recently on Navigating Menopause focussing on the power of lifestyle by Dr Linia Patel because I wanted to find out more and pass on helpful info for you.  So here goes …


You probably know that what we eat, movement and our general lifestyle (incl stress and sleep) has a huge impact, positively or negatively on our hormones and especially when it comes to menopause.

Women go through their own menopause transition: from perimenopause which can be from the age or 40 to around 54 and this stage consists of 2 stages; in the 1st stage, where there’s fluctuating levels of progesterone and lower levels of oestrogen then in the 2nd stage: low levels of these 2 hormones and we notice changes in our menstrual cycle.

Then the menopause (where a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 months consecutively) averaging around the age of 51.

After that, we’ll be in the post-menopausal phase at around age 55+ where there’s no period, we’re unable to fall pregnant and there’s an increased risk of chronic diseases so we can see that a healthy lifestyle including good nutrition, exercise, managing stress levels and getting enough sleep etc really helps.


Hormones act as messengers in the body and progesterone is called the relaxing hormone which helps calm down the brain, boosts mood and helps with sleep and we might start experiencing symptoms early on with low levels.


When it comes to oestrogen, there are so many oestrogen receptors in many organs of the body incl brain, bones, breasts, intestines, liver, urinary tract, blood vessels and salivary glands which means that where there is receptor, there’s a role.


With changing hormones, comes a knock-on effect and may have an effect on cognition, metabolism, digestive system or sleep.


Another hormone that isn’t talked about very much in women is testosterone – not just produced in males and we only have around 1/10 of the testosterone that males have.  It can have an effect on how toned our muscles are, our mood, our energy levels, how sharp and focussed we feel.


It’s no surprise that decreasing levels of these hormones have an impact on us!

In fact, Dr Patel says that there are 70+ symptoms of perimenopause (eg feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sweats, low mood, fatigue, joint pains), 1 in 4 of us will experience debilitating symptoms, 2 out of 3 people experience brain fog daily, 69% experience difficulties with anxiety and depression, 77% find at least one menopause symptom very difficult to manage, 84% have problems sleeping & that 5k is the average weight gain (not inevitable but ‘the average’).  A lot of these symptoms can affect our daily, home and work life.


But, not all inevitable or ‘doom and gloom’ because the good news is that it’s best to be proactive with lifestyle changes from our late 30s/early 40s onwards then hopefully, there’ll be a decrease of the severity of symptoms.  There are many ways to alleviate symptoms and one might be to try hormone replacement therapy.

Hormones take cues from what we eat and how we live so again, as we said, lifestyle choices are so important.


Dr Patel advises a holistic approach when seeing clients with 3 steps to manage the menopause transition:

  1. Living for Success: align your body to optimize your resilience
  2. Moving for Success: understanding your body so that you can regulate your metabolism and build strength
  3. Eating for Success: learn how to nourish your body to elevate mental and physical performance.


So living and optimizing resilience: it’s very important is to manage our stress levels because high stress/cortisol can have an effect on food cravings, poor sleep, brain fog, anxiety, headaches etc.

If we suffer from emotional or environmental stress, poor nutrition or a sedentary lifestyle, recovery strategies that may help could be things like: meditation, being in nature, movement and exercise, cold water therapy, sleeping and resting, eating and nourishing ourselves well so use these and other strategies to equip yourself ie like having a toolkit to help.


Next part of the lifestyle story is movement/exercise and we know that regular movement …

  • Boosts mood and for our hormones
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Helps manage hot flushes
  • Supports sleep
  • Is vital for strong bones and muscles – we need strong muscles to support our bones
  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases

Running on grass.

Although movement and exercise can be a challenge because of symptoms and we might feel guilty that we don’t exercise enough.  But try to ensure that exercise fits into your lifestyle, make it enjoyable, make it social and exercise with others.

We can improve our metabolism by walking more, standing instead of sitting, doing some ‘exercise snacking’ (ie maybe doing 5 or 10 mins of some squats, knee lifts, stretches etc) throughout the day, getting the recommended 150 mins/week of exercise incl resistance exercise which is a priority to protect our muscle mass as we age.

Exercise doesn’t have to be high intensity all the time though – Pilates or yoga are great as we know and still building on bone/muscle strength & flexibility.

Eating for success but first of all, some challenges we might face:

Changes that happen in terms of appetite and cravings – maybe hungrier/craving sugar and high fat foods which are calorific.

If stressed, some comfort eating might be going on too!

Shift in metabolism – loss of muscle mass, weight gain around the middle.

Increased inflammation, insulin resistance, increased risk of disease.


In terms of solutions when it comes to nutrition:

  • Hydration – 1.5 – 2L water daily and start early in the day, maybe 1st thing in the morning. Caffeine can increase hot flushes and night sweats.  Alcohol has a negative impact on sleep and can cause weight gain so drink more water (flavour with fresh lemon/lime), herbal teas or alcohol-free drinks.
  • Eat to manage blood sugar levels – eating in a balanced way. We’re recommended to eat more fibre: about 30g/day incl legumes and whole food carbs.   Always have some protein or fat with carbs for a better impact on blood sugar levels.
  • Eat in an anti-inflammatory way – excluding ultra processed foods, sugar. Eating a Mediterranean eating pattern eg whole foods/grains, colourful veg & fruits, legumes, good fats, herbs & spices – go for quality.  Take time to sit and eat mindfully (rather than ‘on the go’ or at your desk while working)
  • Eat to nourish our gut bacteria – again whole fibre foods, fermented foods, diversity.
  • Supplements to support our body when necessary eg vitamin D, omega-3s, magnesium, maybe probiotics, collagen, creatine, B vitamins might have a role to play. Maybe get your blood levels tested.

In summary:

  • Lifestyle matters
  • Holistic approach is important in the menopause transition
  • Stress management is key
  • An individual approach to nutrition and lifestyle
  • Empowering yourself with tool kits to help manage symptoms


FYI: Dr Patel has a book coming out on 12 September called Food for Menopause.


Talking about a Med diet, I found this article about olives and olive oil and thought you’d find it interesting: Olives vs. Olive Oil: Do They Have Similar Health Benefits? – GoodRx

Reminder to send me any info, articles, local or other news etc that you come across that we can share with each other, thanks.


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