Among the many well-known effects of menopause (hot flashes, etc), there is also the tendency for women to store fat in the liver. This could lead to a potentially life threatening condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Thankfully, there could be a simple solution – a plant-based diet rich in phythochemicals.
Colette Miller, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Georgia, has found that three plant compounds are especially important as “fat-busters.” These are resveratrol, found in grapes, genistein, found in soybeans, and quercetin, found in apple peels and onions.
While the animals in the study may not have lost any pounds per the scale, they did lose visceral fat layers. “We were able to demonstrate that our phytochemical treatment is shuttling the fat away … to be burned or stored elsewhere,” Miller said. “Ultimately what we saw was that there was no damage in the liver being caused by this increased fat associated with menopause.”
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will come out later this year, continue to promote the increase of plant-based foods for both personal health and the health of our environment. As a country, we simply eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt but fall short in our intake of essential vitamins and minerals. The latest recommendations encourage more fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to cut back on red and processed meats and excess sugar.
The Mother Nature Network (MNN) offers these tips for starting to move toward a plant-based diet:
1. Consider your own personal needs: Jump into it with both feet? Or slowly take it one step at a time? Most people are more successful by making small changes and celebrating that success. Start with one meatless meal per week, then move toward an entire day without meat. You can also decide to cut out red meat and focus only on poultry and fish for a period of time (30 days?).
2. Remember good nutrition: Eating potato chips and drinking juice is technically plant-based, but it isn’t good for you. Increase your whole vegetable and fruit intake. Focus on whole grains instead of refined. Drink 100% fruit juice, and not the kind sweetened with sugar.
3. Trying making your favorite meals vegetarian: Do you love lasagna? Try it with a meat-replacement or pump up the vegetables and leave the meat out entirely. Try chili with a variety of beans. Make a Portobello mushroom “burger”. There are tons and tons of free recipes online, or visit a bookstore or library to find a good vegetarian cookbook.
4. Get support. You are more likely to be successful if you have a good support system. Find a friend willing to take this journey with you into healthy eating!
Colette N. Miller, Jeong-Yeh Yang, Tucker Avra, Suresh Ambati, Mary Anne Della-Fera, Srujana Rayalam, Clifton A. Baile. A dietary phytochemical blend prevents liver damage associated with adipose tissue mobilization in ovariectomized rats. Obesity, 2015; 23 (1): 112 DOI: 10.1002/oby.20907
Plant-Based Dietary Patterns Paint Picture of Health – US News and World Report, Feb 25, 2015.
10 tips for starting a plant-based diet – Mother Nature Network, June 19, 2014