Does the Atkins Diet Help with Menopause Symptoms?

For many women, menopause symptoms begin between the ages of 40 and 55.  Menopause itself is defined as the time when a woman ceases to menstruate and therefore stops ovulating every 28 days.  While a small percentage of women report no menopause symptoms, the vast majority report a wide variety including:  hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, irregular bleeding, crashing fatigue, gastrointestinal problems (including indigestion, nausea and general gas pain), and even weight gain.  For women on the Atkins diet, a big question is whether or not the low-carb plan will help with menopause symptomsâ??or make them worse.



Unfortunately, the answer is both.  The Atkins diet will help control or minimize some menopause symptoms while actually worsening others.  However, it is important to remember that not all women have the same menopause symptoms.  Therefore, the Atkins diet will be less of a factor for some women undergoing menopause but a far larger issue for others.  The Atkins diet will help with menopause symptoms like rapid weight gain and crashing fatigue, but will cause more problems with things like gastrointestinal problems.   

With menopause symptoms like rapid weight gain, the Atkins diet is a clear benefit.  The â??disappearing waistlineâ?? is a common menopause symptom and the low-carb, fat-burning Atkins diet will mitigate rapid weight gain.  Also, by reducing blood sugar spikes which are common when consuming processed carbohydrates, the Atkins diet will also help women avoid another common factor in menopauseâ??the crashing fatigue.  By balancing and reducing blood sugar spikes, the Atkins diet will even-out energy distribution and reduce chances for the extreme fatigue associated with menopause.


However, because carbohydrates are a big source of dietary fiber, people on the Atkins diet often undergo periods of constipation and troubles with the normal digestion.  Therefore, menopause symptoms involving the gastrointestinal tract such as indigestion, gas pain, and flatulence may all be intensified while on the Atkins diet.  However, the gastrointestinal problems associated with the Atkins diet are generally limited to the period of Induction, when carbohydrate intake is reduced to 20 grams or less per day.  These problems tend to go away as carbohydrate intake is increased, especially when those carbs are rich in dietary fiber.  When gastrointestinal problems persist, it is sometimes necessary to include dietary fiber supplements.


Therefore, unless a woman is just beginning the Atkins diet and still in the Induction phase, the gastrointestinal problems associated with menopause should not increase due to the diet.  However, the Atkins diet will not improve gastrointestinal problems due to menopause eitherâ??no matter how much dietary fiber is in the diet.  This is because digestion problems during menopause are the result of hormone imbalances which cause the muscles in the intestines to cease functioning normally.  In turn, the problems with the intestines cause the digestive process to slow down and lead to issues such as constipation, nausea, and gas pains.  Hormone therapy is sometimes required to treat menopause symptoms like gastrointestinal malfunction. 

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