In my opinion, this topic is not discussed enough and should be. We need to be discussing it so that we can help each other, share stories, laugh about it, stay sane!
OK, so what IS the menopause? Every woman is born with a finite amount of eggs. Our hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and our follicle stimulating hormone, work together to send signals around the body to tell it when it’s time to release an egg. This happens every month from puberty until the age of around 51 (on average), unless you are pregnant. Once all of the eggs have been released, we don’t have that monthly cycle anymore. So, if your cycle has stopped for 12 months, you are in menopause.
HOWEVER…….for anything up to 10 years before this happens, your body is adjusting to fluctuations in your hormones, so you may be suffering from lots of symptoms that you MAY be putting down to age, but could be because you are in “peri-menopause”. What kind of symptoms are we talking about???
- hot flashes/night sweats
- mental fuzziness/forgetfullnes
- sleep disruption/insomnia
- change in hair/skin
- mood swings/irritability
- leg cramps/itchy twitchy legs
- irregular/excessively heavy bleeding
- increasing fat around the tummy
It all sounds so depressing, right?!?! So why is this happening and is there anything we can do about it?
YES is the answer, there is!!
So why does the peri-menopause happen? Our ovaries naturally fail to produce oestrogen and progesterone when they have few remaining egg cells and there is a rapid decline from 40 onwards. With less egg cells, the ovaries become less able to respond to hormones from the pituitary gland in the brain: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) and less oestrogen is produced. The resulting low, and changing levels of ovarian hormones, particularly oestrogen, are thought to be the cause of these symptoms.
HOWEVER…..many factors such as diet and exercise, lifestyle and other medication can influence the symptoms.
So what can we do to help? With understanding of the hormonal changes that occur, it is possible to tailor our lifestyle to offset many of the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany menopause, like hot flashes, belly fat, brain fog, emotional changes and digestive distress. We have to learn to balance our hormones. This is how you can help:
- Nutrition – Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Excess caffeine and alcohol not only worsen flushes but also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Cut out the ‘bad fats’ (margarine, vegetable oils, pastries) and replace them with good fats like coconut oil, butter, olive oil, walnut oil. Cut down on the sugar which spikes your insulin (fizzy drinks, cakes, sweets, chocolate) and the refined carbs such as pasta, bread, rice, potatoes which have the same effect on the body as sugar. Eats lots of vegetables especially cruciferous veg (cauliflower, broccoli) and leafy green veg and good sources of protein such as eggs, chicken, turkey, beef.
- Sleep – Try and get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night which is vital for losing body fat and for healthy ageing. Sleep is the time when your body repairs, recovers and regenerates and when you produce an important hormone – human growth hormone, the ultimate anti ageing hormone!
- Stress Management – Cortisol is your stress hormone which tells your liver to quickly dump a lot of sugar into your bloodstream, which causes fat around the middle if it isn’t burned off. Lower your stress with deep breathing, meditation or Yoga.
- Detoxification – Toxins damage the hormone receptors that live on our cell membranes, preventing important hormonal messages from being delivered. Some toxins even mimic the action of hormones and allowing the wrong messages from getting into the cell. Try to eat organic food free from pesticides and hormones, change your beauty products to those free of parabens, limit your use of plastics especially if they come into contact with fats, drink clean water and limit alcohol.
- Movement – Think about your movement and choose exercises that benefit you at this stage of your life. Strength training will increase your muscles and therefore metabolism, helping with weight loss and osteoporosis. Walking mixed with high intensity interval training could be a powerful combination to increase metabolism and reduce stress.
To learn more about this and to meet like minded women why not come on one of our workshops? We would love to see you.