tanith@tanithlee.co.uk

The A-Z of menopause

The A-Z of menopause

 

Attitude – Having the right attitude towards this stage in life will help you get through it!

It is a big change …think of it as a positive stage in your life and try and keep your sense of humour 😉

Blood Sugar – Keep it balanced to help keep your mood balanced, reduce menopause symptoms, increase energy levels and reduce belly fat. If you have energy crashes in the afternoon this is a sign that your blood glucose levels may be ‘out of whack’. If this is you; eat regularly, avoid skipping meals, reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates, exercise regularly and keep hydrated.

Bone Density – Women lose 20% bone density going through menopause and 2% every year after that regardless of health/fitness levels.

Keep those bones strong to prevent osteoporosis. Get plenty of sunlight to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D (you could get your levels checked by your GP). Eat green leafy veggies, pumpkin seeds, and almonds to get adequate magnesium. Vitamin K is important in bone health so eat green leafy veggies, fermented foods, cabbage and broccoli. Get moving and include weight bearing exercises (walking, running, resistance training, dancing etc.). Calcium doesn’t just come from dairy try other sources including dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tofu, almonds, black beans, and blackstrap molasses. (see osteoporosis below)

Carbohydrates – Get them mostly from vegetables and unrefined wholefoods. Avoid simple starch foods like bread, cakes, biscuits, crisps and many processed carbs. As we age we become less tolerant of ‘carbs’; they will increase our waistlines and deplete our energy.

Digestion – This can become sluggish as we get older so take a probiotic (or eat fermented foods), use digestive enzymes, keep hydrated and eat plenty of vegetables to keep everything moving. The first stage of digestion starts in your mouth so slow down your eating and chew well…..really well J

Exercise – Mix it up. Cardio, resistance, flexibility, sport, dance, stretch, wiggle, giggle, fast, slow…..just get moving! Not only will exercise lift your mood it will help balance your hormones, promote sleep, protect your heart health and help with weight issues. Resistance training will give you the fastest results for fat loss when we are menopausal. It will help increase muscle mass, build bone density,  increases your metabolism and can change your body shape.

Flush – Hot! One of the most common symptoms of menopause. Some suffer more than others. Eating a healthier diet which contains a rainbow of plant based goodness, protein sources and water will help.  Many women have found that reducing stress by practicing deep breathing, yoga and other relaxation methods reduce/eliminate their flushes. Know your triggers….caffeine, alcohol and sugar are common ones.

Growth – Hair! It seems the hair on our head thins out and feels drier and then we find bizarre hairs start to sprout in strange places. This is due to the imbalances in our hormones. Following all the tips so far will help keep your hair in great condition. A particular useful vitamin is Vitamin B5 – D-pantothenic acid – you find this in avocado, beans, eggs, green veggie, lentils, liver, mushrooms, sweet potato.

Hormones! Where do they go? What happens to them? During peri-menopause (the years before your last period) your hormone levels start to fluctuate and the ratio of estrogen:progesterone:testosterone change causing menopause symptoms. Making lifestyle tweaks (relaxation, exercise, nutrition, laughter, life-laundry…) will all help to balance your hormones.

Inflammation is a natural reaction to injury or infection. The problem comes when we have too much inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by poor lifestyle choices (poor nutrition, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, lack of exercise), infection, trauma, injury. This can lead to a number of disorders including; carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and the list can go on….

As well as anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes here are some ways to reduce inflammation; Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C (use a buffered form that is easier for the body to use), curcumin found in turmeric

Joints – Joint pain and stiffness is another common symptom. Omega 3 essential fatty acids (called essential as our bodies cannot produce them itself so we must eat them). They are found in oily fish, walnuts, hemp, free range/organic egg yolk, flax seed/oil, sea vegetables/algae, and grass fed meat. Also keep hydrated and keep moving; simple daily stretches can be hugely rewarding. (also see inflammation tips above)

Note: Ideally the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 should ideally be between 4:1 and 2:1. In a typical western diet this ratio is usually much higher as we tend to over consume omega 6 ‘pro-inflammatory’ containing foods (vegetable oils used in cooking and processed foods).

Knowledge – Do your homework, talk to specialists, see your GP, research, talk to friends and find something that works for you. It may take time to discover your unique formula so breathe, roll with it, enjoy the self-discovery process and be patient.

Liver – Your liver uses a lot of the body’s energy as it is working hard to make the toxins we take in safe for the body. These can come from the environment and from the food we eat and the drinks we consume. The extra burden of of processed foods, alcohol, sugar, chemicals from beauty products and the environment will cause it to have to work harder. Liver support is vital during the menopause transition.

Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables daily (especially cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cabbage, kale, watercress) keep hydrated to flush the body and keep everything moving.
Add essential fatty acids, daily movement/exercise, dry skin brushing to get the  lymph moving,  ensure you are eating plenty of fibre to make sure the bowels can eliminate toxins and hormones. Excess estrogen that is not eliminated through the bowels can be reabsorbed which can cause hormonal imbalances and menopause symptoms. Bitter foods stimulate the liver. Milk thistle is a classic herb that supports the liver.

Reduce the load on your liver by eliminating or reducing caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods and environmental chemicals found in cosmetics, cleaning products and plastics.

M
emory – Sorry what was I saying? Memory loss and forgetfulness are frustratingly common symptoms of menopause. Research has shown that exercise and ‘brain games’ have shown to help improve memory. Also following the nutrition advice in this article will help your brain function.

Night Sweats – Another well-known symptom that can cause women to feel close to the edge. The constant interrupted sleep can have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. Some women find the herbs black cohosh and sage can help with night sweats. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine are common night sweat triggers. Sleep in a cool, well ventilated room using natural bedding and night wear.

Osteoporosis – This needs an article by itself. Reduce fizzy drinks as the body uses your calcium stores to buffer the acidity, low stomach acid can mean you don’t absorb nutrients needed to grow bone density (antacids and PPI’s for indigestion reduce stomach acid), reduce caffeine as it can make you excrete calcium, get some sun and take supplements over the winter to ensure adequate vitamin D, reduce chronic stress to reduce your stress hormone levels, use your bones…..exercise signals to your body that we need them and will make them stronger. (see bones)

Phytoestrogens – These are plant based foods that have an oestrogen like effect on the body. Include legumes, flaxseeds, organic soybeans, nuts, wholegrains, apples, celery, parsley and sprouted seeds in your diet.

Relationships – If your moods are erratic this may have an effect on your relationships. This could be partner, children, parents or co-workers. Maybe you could have an honest talk to these people about what is going on.  It’s important to be heard and feel listened to.

Sex – Low libido is common in menopause but doesn’t affect all women. A mixture of out of balance hormones, feeling stressed out, tired, poor body image and lack of confidence all play a part. If you have an understanding partner explain what you are feeling and go back to basics of enjoying cuddles and kisses to keep the intimacy.
Use it or lose it…..sex, fore-play, genital massage and self-love are important as it keeps blood flow to the tissues of the genitals. An orgasm not only delivers a powerful dose of the ‘feel good hormones’ it also keeps your vulva and vagina lubricated, plump and healthy…… Remember a women’s libido starts in her mind so use your imagination as foreplay 😉 Don’t give up…. Many women find their libido comes back once they are post menopause. (see V for vagina)
Thyroid and menopause symptoms are similar (weight gain, low mood, lack of energy). It may be worth getting a full thyroid test carried out by your GP.

Understanding – Listen to your body and be gentle with yourself. Menopause symptoms are a way of your body telling you that it needs attention. Treat yourself with the kindness, patience and compassion you would treat a child. Menopause is the perfect time to put boundaries in place and  to say “me first’ and ‘no’.

Vagina – Another taboo subject! It’s rare for us to hear anyone discussing what happens ‘down there’. The menopause can cause changes to all your mucous membranes including your eyes, nose, digestive system and your vulva and vagina.
Dryness, soreness, irritability, thrush and thinning of the vaginal walls (atrophy) can be helped. Your doctor can prescribe Vagifem which contain small amounts of estrogen that can be inserted into the vagina. Use a natural lubricant of which there are many on the market. Some women find Sea buckthorn (Omega 7) supplements help.

Weight gain is a very common complaint. It is possible to lose weight but be prepared to be patient as what worked for you in your 30’s may not work for you now.

Following the tips in this article will all contribute to weight loss.
Remove processed foods, eat a rainbow of vegetables, keep hydrated, get moving and do everything you can to get your body back in balance.

Xenoestrogens – are a type of ‘xeno-hormone’ that imitates estrogen, this sounds good but they block ‘real’ estrogens from working. Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used industrial compounds like plastic and other materials (over 80,000 different chemicals are used in manufacturing, consumer products and agriculture). To reduce your exposure eat organically where you can, don’t use plastic to store food and drinks, use organic cosmetics/make-up and use eco cleaning products.

Yoga – Bring out your inner zen. Yoga is a fantastic restorative exercise that brings calm and well-being. It can keep you supple, flexible and strong J There are many types of yoga, each bring different qualities so find a style you enjoy. If yoga isn’t your thing try other restorative type classes.

Z – zzzz Sleep….your body needs to build, regenerate and restore so get lots of sleep. The irony is that a very common menopause symptom is broken sleep. Only drink caffeine in the mornings (or stop it completely), use lavender on your pillow, try relaxing teas in the evening, try valerian supplement an hour before bed, ensure you are having enough magnesium in your diet (or supplement) and try guided relaxation before sleeping. If you suffer disturbed sleep, try and cat nap and/or rest when you can. The lower level of progesterone is often a common cause of insomnia in menopause. Using a natural progesterone cream helps some women and could be used as a temporary ‘fix’ while you allow the above methods to work..

Always get professional advice when taking herbal or nutritional supplements.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Great Article Tanith – all the best tips in one convenient list 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Zita…..I could’ve added so much more lol x

      Reply

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