The transition through perimenopause into postmenopause ranges from smooth sailing for some women to outright misery for others. A combination of genetics, hormone metabolism, nutrition, and lifestyle can affect this period of our lives.
However, the hormonal changes that can make perimenopause and post-menopause a grab bag of insomnia, night sweats, anxiety, irritability, weight gain, do not happen without cause. Our progesterone and estrogen levels are shifting erratically to make way for the second half of life. Estrogen production from the ovaries will drop off a cliff and the body will try to lay down fat around the midsection to act as an estrogen-producing organ. Some women who experience more dramatic symptoms during and after this transition may benefit from hormone replacement therapy to restore hormone balance. Other women may not need the support or may opt out for other reasons.
While every woman will have their own menopause story, one fact is clear in the research: soluble fiber is a game changer for symptom management, metabolism and hormone-related disease risk. This is what you need to know.
When hormones are in balance, the synergy allows us to build bone and muscle, focus, reproduce, get romantic, hit the gym, and feel connection and love. During the transition to and through menopause, one of the primary imbalances that women experience is a changing gap between progesterone and estrogen production.
When estrogen is high and progesterone can’t keep up, insomnia, anxiety and irritability prevail. When both hormones drop and estrogen is low, night sweats, painful sex, low libido, depression, weight gain and headaches may increase.
Regardless of the amount of estrogen being produced, estrogen recycling has negative effects on our health. Once estrogen is used (for all the good things estrogen does for us), it needs to leave the body. If it doesn't exit, toxic levels of estrogen metabolites build up in circulation and increase disease risk and negative symptoms. Because soluble fiber binds excess (and used) estrogen in the small intestine and moves it through the colon and into the toilet, daily intake of 15-20g soluble fiber is a simple tool for reducing symptoms and maintaining health.
Metabolism & body comp
Boosting soluble fiber is a fantastic way to support better metabolism and your optimal body composition, especially as estrogen tanks and the body is triggered to store more fat and build less muscle. The benefits are due to soluble fiber’s wide reach on caloric intake and absorption as well as its effect on hormones and the microbiome.
Because soluble fiber helps you feel full, you eat less. Soluble fiber slows transit time which means you absorb glucose at a slower rate, leading to fewer glucose spikes (which means less fat storage). Soluble fiber also binds to fat in your diet, carrying that fat into your colon instead of into your bloodstream. In addition, soluble fiber feeds your healthy microbiome which supports increased metabolism. Certain fiber-loving microbes in the colon help to prevent the extraction of excess calories from our food, therefore reducing “calories in” and moving more “calories out”.
60% of breast cancer incidence occurs after 61 years of age. This seems counterintuitive for hormone-positive breast cancer when endogenous hormone production is significantly reduced after menopause. However, research points to two factors that may be more important: 1) percentage of visceral body fat (which can produce inflammatory molecules and more estrogens) and 2) how well we clear toxic estrogens through the liver and gut.
This means controlling for visceral fat and boosting detox pathways reduces risk - two tasks that are largely improved with soluble fiber. In fact, a 2016 meta-analysis clearly states "Dose-response analysis showed that every 10g/d increment in dietary fibre intake was associated with a 4% reduction in breast cancer risk, and little evidence of publication bias was found. Thus, dietary fibre consumption is significantly associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women." This connection likely exists for the reasons mentioned in the previous section. We need excess estrogen to leave the body!
Estrogens are not the only compounds we need to detox consistently. Environmental toxins have been linked to increased risk of chronic disease. Lucky for us, both substances are detoxed, naturally, using the same pathways. Soluble fiber has a special action in our small intestine – it binds bile. Bile is a molecule made in the liver that not only helps us absorb dietary fat, but it acts as the garbage truck for toxins in the liver.
As bile (carrying toxins) is secreted into the small intestine by the gallbladder, it has two fates. 1) It can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream with the toxins your liver was trying to get rid of. Or 2) it can be bound to soluble fiber and carried into the colon and into your toilet. Better detox leads to benefits in every system in your body, inside and out.
Did you know that women are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than men and that risk increases substantially after menopause? With heart disease as the leading cause of death for US women, there is no better focus when it comes to prevention. Consuming high amounts of soluble fiber (15-20g/day) reduces LDL cholesterol, drops inflammation, reduces risk of obesity, helps to balance blood sugar and support blood pressure regulation. This covers virtually every risk factor for heart disease, and it’s SO EASY. Beans, lentils, flax, chia and Florasophy every day means reduced risk and better heart health.
Get more soluble fiber
As women, we deserve evidence-based information and tools to protect and optimize our health. For many of us, the transition to and through menopause can be as tumultuous (if not more challenging) than the rocky road of adolescence and puberty. However, with age comes wisdom and we believe that women at every age can thrive with the right resources. While some lifestyle changes can be a bit more daunting, boosting soluble fiber is an easy tool that will support your health indefinitely. Just three teaspoons of Florasophy a day can make a world of difference in your well-being. Get your 20g a day and feel the difference.