What happens during menopause?
During the years leading into menopause the changes are experienced differently for many of us. Some might complain of hot flashes, others find they lose all confidence in situations, others suffer with crippling insomnia. Periods begins to become irregular and finally menstruation stops which signals the onset of menopause which is recognised as being one year free of any periods.
These changes occur as oestrogen levels drop usually after the age of 40, causing symptoms from changes in cortisol levels, brain fog, hot flashes, loss of concentration and memory, night sweats, anxiety, irritability, join pains, headaches, dry mouth and other dry parts…ooh its all sounding like a delightful life stage…not! but, hold up, there are some natural ways you can make this transition time better and easier, let’s look at what you can do…
Gain Muscle Mass
It is important to do your best to maintain your muscle mass using resistance activities such as using your own body weight such as push ups, hand weights, gym machines, fast walking (including a hill if possible) to preserve and build muscle. Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise every day whether that is a brisk walk and/or weights with some cardio work for a healthy heart.
Maintain healthy weight
As we lose muscle mass we need to adjust our macronutrients to catch up with our changing biology. If we continue to eat the same way we used to, this can lead to weight gain. Reducing portion sizes of carbohydrates especially can be helpful. To get more specific advice join Eat Better Feel Better online healthy eating programme or get one to one advice and book a consultation with me.
During the lead into menopause, we begin to slowly lose minerals such as calcium from our bones which increases our risk of osteoporosis. Oestrogen helps our bone building cells to regenerate the bone matrix therefore, the loss of oestrogen can mean we need to pay more attention to minerals in our diet that support good bone health.
Making sure you include calcium rich foods from legumes, beans, leafy greens, dairy, wholegrains and oily fish, and checking vitamin D levels is really important at this time. Find out more about the importance of vitamin D and the simple home-test kit I can help arrange for you by clicking here Contact Me
There is a strong correlation between a disordered gut microbiome, digestive health issues and experiencing worse menopause symptoms. Improving your nutrition to optimise your gut health is a great place to start to reduce symptoms. Eating a wide range of plant based foods and eating wholegrain, unprocessed foods will provide your gut bacteria with the nourishment they need to live in harmony. However, if you know you suffer with IBS, digestive issues, constipation, loose bowels, reflux, indigestion, then it is worth booking a one to one consultation with me to find the root cause. Making a few, simple dietary tweaks to improve your gut health could help to east your transition and reduce menopause symptoms.
Getting a good night sleep is so important. Going through peri-menopause/menopause can leave you feeling exhausted; your energy levels are lower than usual, joint pain, muscle aches/pains and headaches in addition to these hormones changes can cause a lot of anxiety, worry and concern for some.
Having a rubbish night sleep makes all of this seem so much more difficult to manage and cope with. Have you tried epsom salt baths? Epsom salts are rich in magnesium which is easily absorbed through the skin, esepcially having a soothign bath before bed can help to aid a deep, restful sleep. Some find taking a magnesium supplement really helpful too, although finding a suitable form and dose of magnesium is important. For example, magnesium comes in various forms from citrate, malate, oxide etc. Getting a really good overview with a one to one consultation to look at everything including your sleep, diet, lifestyle, checking for nutrient deficiencies and finding some natural ways to start getting your energy back on track can be a game changer, I am always happy to have a friendly, non-obligatory chat to see if this feels like a good idea for you? Contact me
At least half of women going through peri-menopause will experience some changes to memory capacity. How many times have you walked into a room and scratched your head trying to recall what you went in there for? or do you lose your thread in conversations easily or even forget a friend or colleague’s name that you have known for years?!
Anxiety and depression are often reported with some people suddenly finding they have lost all confidence in themselves and can feel very isolated and low.
This can be quite a worrying and daunting time, but don’t worry there are steps you can take. Making sure you are eating plenty of omega 3 fats from oily fish can help and eating a mediteranean style diet with plenty of vegetables and bright colours i.e. bell peppers, green leaves, berries and quality protein can really help.
A group of plant based foods containing phytoestrogens can help minimise this loss of oestrogen at this time. These foods are known as adaptogens and have a mildly oestrogen effect meaning they can adapt to lower circulating levels of hormones in the body to create more balance.
Phytoestrogens are found in high amounts in soya products, beans, lentils and flaxseed – these foods are also rich in calcium so they are an all around great food group to include. Supplements containing phytoestrogens are available, however, including natural sources in your diet has been shown to have a beneficial effect.
Science: Diet delays onset of menopause
Did you know that in one study on diet and women in perimenopause when fed a diet rich in oily fish, beans and peas, they set back the onset of menopause by a whopping 3 years!! In contrast, a diet high in refined carbohydrate saw an earlier onset by approx 1.5 years. This is nutrition science in action and we can apply this to ourselves! By delaying the onset of menopause, oestrogen levels were maintained for longer, reducing risk of osteoporosis; incredible! so it appears there is a better way of eating as we approach a healthier menopause.
This study was the inspiration for my delicious pea, bean, rocket salad with cashew nut and coriander herb dressing which I will be sharing along with other supportive recipes in my next workshop, click link here.
To find out more about the nutrients to focus on during perimenopause and menopause to reduce symptoms and have a better menopause, join my next online workshop, for more info click here “Nutrition for a better Menopause”
Remove triggers for symptoms
Hot drinks can trigger hot flashes and night sweats as can caffeine and alcohol. Avoiding alcohol and reducing your intake of caffeine after 3pm can help you have a better night sleep with less disruption from night sweats. Caffeine is found in chocolate as well as in tea and coffee and green tea so it is worth bearing that in mind for foods to avoid later in the daytime.
Bloating can be a problem for many of us at this time too, gut motility can slow down resulting in chronic constipation but also reduced capacity to produce digestive enzymes can mean that we don’t break our food down as effectively resulting in fermentation and gassiness. Keeping a food and symptom diary for a time can help show up patterns in case any food is triggering bloating and gas. You can download a food diary here Evienutrition-food-diary
Supplements can help but they aren’t for everyone. Finding the right one to suit your needs and using science based evidence of supplements with efficacy at the right dose is something worth trying. It is important to remember that some supplements can interfere with medication so if you are on prescription medication, please make sure you get qualified advice. This is something I do for my clients, by checking interactions I can help ensure you are supplementing safely but it is always a good idea to check with your consultation or GP first.
If you decide that you might benefit from additional supplements, always ask a professional for a good quality, highly reputable and well sourced supplement. We are all unique and what works for one, often won’t have the same effect on you, therefore you may need to try a few different supplements over a number of months to find one that works for you.
Online Menopause Workshop – 8th June – not to be missed!
Join me for 1-hour online zoom to get the latest science/research, nutrition tips and recipes and share space with me and other women in the same situation to get natural solutions in place for a better menopause. We will have a live Q&A session at the end so you will get the opportunity to ask me any questions. Book here
*Disclaimer: the information provided here is for information purposes only and not designed to treat or diagnose. I do not know your personal circumstances and therefore to get a personalised, bespoke health plan please get in touch to arrange your private consultation today. Contact me