SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

Fitness Consultant Jodelle Fitzwater says some foods can help women in the battle against menopause.

Here's her narrative:

Today up to 70 million American women are menopausal.  And whether it’s peri-menopause, in the full flux of menopause, or post-menopausal, and it’s rare to find a gal not affected by ill-feeling symptoms such as weight gain, hot flashes, anxiety and mood swings, all caused by disrupted hormones.

The three main hormones that get disrupted during menopause are estrogen, insulin, and cortisol. Let’s explore these in detail to understand how each one effects us during menopausal years.

Estrogen: Contrary to popular belief, menopausal woman are actually estrogen dominant as opposed to being low on estrogen. This is due to our environmental estrogens, known as xenoestrogens, such as BPA in plastics, soy-containing foods which mimics estrogen in the body, and the hormones pumped into the animals that we consume. One of estrogen’s roles at puberty is to give us curves, yet because of our  environment we are now becoming estrogen dominant, and creating an imbalance in our delicate system based on poor choices in our food supply. Too much estrogen causes too many curves—or you might say, curves where we we didn’t intend to have curves by creating excess fat cells. Fat cells make more estrogen. Therefore, the more estrogen you have, the more fat cells you make and the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you make. It becomes a vicious circle of an imbalance of our delicate system.

Insulin.  Insulin, the master hormone and the “fat-storing” hormone, is secreted from the pancreas in response to sugar and carbohydrates. Insulin stores fat and also causes our bodies to make more estrogen. Insulin is necessary for the body, but too much insulin creates not only more fat cells, but also over time, our bodies will become insulin resistant if the majority of our calories are coming from processed carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods. This is where we see women who have been relatively thin their whole lives, develop a thickness through the middle based on hormonal disruption and more fat cells. This is the first sign of becoming insulin resistant, and it is becoming more and more common.

Cortisol. This important stress hormone, is secreted in response to any sort of stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional. Too much insulin causes stress in the body, leading to excess cortisol. While cortisol is necessary to help you deal with acute stress, chronic stress, or stress that consumes your life leads to adrenal fatigue and essentially the inability to deal with any stress at all, as well as sleep disturbances, sugar cravings, depression, exhaustion, and mood fluctuations. Chronic release of this stress hormone also leads to weight gain. And once again, more fat equals more estrogen and more estrogen equals more fat. These hormones all play a vital role in how optimally the body functions and how well, or not so well a woman will feel in menopause.

So what is the best way to keep these hormones in balance so that menopause can be magnificent instead of malicious? The best way and most important is to eat! However, what you eat is key. Make the wrong food choices and you will only make menopause matters worse. Make the right food choices and make menopause the best of your life!

Here’s how to venture into eating for menopause the right way for optimal health!

We, as women, need to reduce the processed carbohydrates, which will balance your blood sugar and thwart the overproduction of insulin. With balanced blood sugar levels, less insulin is needed and less body fat is created. Less body fat means a more balanced production of all the necessary hormones.

For optimal health at menopause, eat less bread, cereal, pasta and sodas.

Instead, start eating in balance with these 3 foods every 3-4 hours. Think of the “Power of 3”.

1. Protein. Protein eaten at every meal helps to speed metabolism by 60%, and provides key amino acids that are calming and healing to the liver which regulates hormone production. Proteins are eggs, seafood, meats, and things like cottage cheese, and whey protein. The animal proteins are always best and most absorbable forms. However, your food supply may also be part of the problem.  Unless the meat you eat is labeled “no hormones added,” you are probably eating meat with added hormones.  Many commercial farmers of beef and chicken use hormones to promote rapid weight gain in their animals.  These hormonal “junk meats” are adding to our hormones and our waist lines. Not only to they disrupt a women’s gentle hormonal production system, but they can be cancer-causing as well. Too much estrogen in menopausal years has been linked to one of the main causes of breast cancer. Perhaps the best choice is organic, grass-fed meat which contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  Grass-fed animals have twice as much CLA as animals fed grains, and numerous studies have shown that CLA burns stored body fat!Conventionally raised meats will hardly contain this.

2. Plant-based Carbohydrates. Specifically vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals to keep our systems running efficiently which allows you to burn calories efficiently. But the really healing issue behind consuming unlimited vegetables for a peri-menopausal woman, menopausal woman, and post-menopausal woman is that vegetables drastically help to rid the body of excess estrogens from our environmental xenoestrogens. In fact, the number one way you will reduce systems of menopause and detox your hormonal issues is with loads of dark leafy greens, and all other non-starchy vegetables. Women should begin to use these foods to “crowd out” starchy, processed carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, pastas, and many gluten-containing foods.

3. Healthy Fats. Eat fat to lose fat! Fats do not cause any spike in insulin and when done alongside a good protein and a plant-based carbohydrate, healthy fats not only balance hormones but also create satisfaction in the brain to tell the body to stop eating and that you are content. Eating the right fat however is crucial. Avocados, guacamole, coconut oil, coconut milk, real grass-fed butter, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, and nuts like macadamia nuts and even dark chocolate (80% or higher) are all healthy fats that help you burn stored body fat.

Here's a Sample Meal Plan of how to make the “Power of 3” work for your optimal health.

Breakfast 8am

Protein: 2 whole eggs scrambled with

Plant-based Carb: 1 cup of spinach cooked in a little butter

Healthy fat: 1 nitrate free piece of bacon or organic sausage link

20oz of water with lemon or hot Green Tea

Lunch 11am –

Protein: 4oz canned tuna, salmon, or chicken tossed on…

Plant-based Carb: 3 cups of mixed greens or romaine lettuce with a plethora of chopped veggies tossed on (grape

tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, celery, broccoli – whatever you like) on with 5-6 pitted olives chopped, and…