Menopause - It’s good to talk
I am so pleased that more and more people are being more open about the menopause. In the past it was not spoken about and women suffered in silence and thought that it was normal to experience all the unfortunate symptoms that seem to affect so many women. Last night, I met a lovely group of ladies who wanted to find out more about the menopause and learn how to manage it more naturally.
There are many celebrities that have been very open about the menopause including Gwyneth Paltrow and Patsy Kensit. Patsy writes for Natural Health magazine and recently wrote about her experience of the menopause and how food can really help. She made a very good point about the menopause ‘Feeling that I’d lost control of my body’, it’s good to talk about this and not feel alone.
There are lots of things you can do with your diet to help you reduce the symptoms of the menopause and also a number of herbs and nutrients have been found to be very beneficial.
There are different stages to the menopause:-
Pre-menopause - your cycle is still regular but you may start to get some symptoms like hot flushes and mood changes
Peri-menopause - your cycle starts to become irregular and the symptoms can get worse
Post-menopause - this stage runs from the last period onwards
I get asked many times, how long is this going to last? There is not a clear answer to this, it can be a few years to as much as 10/15 years. So it is really important to look at your diet and lifestyle and see what is triggering or driving the symptoms.
So what are the symptoms of the menopause?
There are many symptoms but some of the main ones are: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability, declining libido, osteoporosis, weight gain, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Sounds great!
I see a lot of clients experiencing most of these but the one that they are shocked about and did not link it to the menopause is the increased anxiety and panic attacks that just start for no reason. I know with me I started having panic attacks with driving, which was very strange but I soon realised that it could be a sign of the pre menopause that can start in your early forties. I have since met lots of clients who have suffered with the same thing and feel relived that their is a reason behind it. Most people know about the hot flushes or power surges as they are called in America and night sweats.
Hot flashes, sometimes referred to as hot flushes are characterized by a sudden and intense feeling of heat on your face and upper body. These hot flashes, that can last from a few seconds to nearly an hour, are often accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, headache, anxiety, dizziness, and weakness.
What can you do?
The first area to look at is your diet and how you are eating. Blood sugar balancing is key to ensuring your body is functioning to an optimum level and that your adrenals are not being over worked by a roller coaster of blood sugars. We need the adrenals to produce a major source of oestrogen (as oestrone) in the menopause, that helps with the symptoms and also for our bone health. By eating a diet high in sugar, stimulants (caffeine) and simple carbohydrates (white flour etc) our blood sugar levels will be all over the place. Also, if we do not eat regularly then our blood sugars drop and cause or adrenals to release adrenaline and cortisol which is our stress response. The body is very clever in sorting out an imbalance but it cannot do this long term. High cortisol will increase some of the symptoms of the menopause. This obviously goes for stress levels as well which increase cortisol levels.
You may have to knock that cup of coffee on the head, caffeine will cause blood sugar imbalance. Hot coffee is the most problematic source of hot flashes because you are dealing with two triggers, a hot beverage and caffeine. If you're a heavy coffee drinker, it's best to cut back or stop drinking coffee completely (1).
Alcohol is also a real trigger for a hot flush, so it is best to either avoid this or have in moderation. Drinking alcohol can also make the anxiety and panic attacks more severe the next day as well. Alcohol may seem like a good idea at the time but it does affect our sleep, depletes nutrients and also causes weight gain. Sorry ladies…
Eat plenty of phytoestrogens, Phytoestrogens or dietary oestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that have a hormone balancing affect. Phytoestrogens may be beneficial for women looking to rebalance their hormones as they approach menopause. Phytoestrogens offer a natural alternative to the synthetic oestrogen used in hormone replacement therapies. Phytoestrogens may help to relieve uncomfortable hot flashes. A 2014 study found that phytoestrogens reduced the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women without any serious side effects (2). It can also help prevent osteoporosis as it is balancing out the oestrogen which is needed for our bones.
Phytoestrogens include: Soya, Legumes (lentils, lentils etc.), Flaxseeds, Wholegrains, sunflower seeds and hops to name a few. Some of these are so easy to include in your day to day diet.
There are many herbs that can help with the menopausal symptoms but they are particular to the stage you are at in the menopause. Some of the key ones are:-
Black Cohosh - great for hot flushes and night sweats
Agnus Castus - helps with hormone balancing and mood swings
Ashwagandha - acts as an adaptogen which helps with hormones and also out ability to adapt to stress
These are just a few simple ideas, if you are suffering with the menopause and want a more personalised nutrition plan, please click here to contact me. Why not organise for a group of friends to get together and learn how to manage the menopause naturally.