Don’t go getting yourself all hot and bothered about your upcoming menopause. Food scientist and nutritional therapist Susie Debice provides six easy to achieve steps to follow that help support hormonal balance before, during and after the menopause…
Over the last two decades there has been a plethora of research into the menopause highlighting the many common symptoms, causes and strategies. The results of these research studies and clinical trials have been utilised to confirm and consolidate what we already know to be effective, and to also shape and create trusted advice for women to follow as they navigate their way through this time of hormonal change.
- Lose the magic 10lbs
A large American study known as the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification involving over 17,000 post-menopausal women revealed that overweight women who lost at least 10lbs or 10% of their body weight through healthy eating guidelines, smaller portions and increased exercised were significantly more likely to rid themselves of hot flushes than women who lost less than 10lbs. Don’t be tempted to follow a fad or overly restrictive diet, these tend to be full of false promise and the rebound weight gain could leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated. Losing the magic 10lbs before, or as soon as your perimenopause begins, helps you in more ways than one.
Many women experience a dip in metabolism after the menopause due to the drop in hormones, which may make it harder to lose weight after the menopause. This menopausal metabolism slump is why so many women tend to experience weight gain after the menopause. This insight provides motivation for getting in shape before your menopause begins.
- Switch to caffeine free drinks
It’s hard to image that one of your treasured morning rituals could end up making your menopause more severe. However, there is compelling scientific evidence to show that women who consume caffeine – present in coffee, tea and cola – typically experience enhanced menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, headaches, insomnia and palpitations. Simply swapping caffeinated drinks for herbal teas, water with a splash of fruit juice or simply drinking water could help you quickly feel more comfortable during your menopause.
- Herbal remedies and nutrition supplements
Once you’ve got a healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise routine in place then you may want to add some supplements to further support hormone balance through the menopause. There are lots of options so it’s confusing and hard to know what will work for you. The most common natural supplements substantiated by good clinical studies include phytoestrogens, rosemary oil, vitamin D and E, B-vitamins, and omega 3 krill oil. For a truly personalised supplement programme a nutritional therapist can select the most appropriate supplements for the symptoms you are experiencing or Cleanmarine MenoMin is a great all rounder in terms of nutrition support during the menopause.
- Pelvic floor workout
Studies indicate that genitourinary issues affect approximately 50% of menopausal and post-menopausal women with common issues including laughter leaks and incontinence, interstitial cystitis, prolapsed bladder, painful sex and vaginal atrophy. However, only 20% of these women seek help for these conditions which massively affects their quality of life. Hormonal changes during the menopause causes muscles that support the bladder and urethra to become more relaxed and the tissues and cells that line the bladder and vagina to weaken. This is why working your pelvic floor muscles before, during and after the menopause is incredibly important. So get squeezing ladies! There are lots of pelvic toning gadgets to help you focus on this much needed daily activity. Check out www.kegel8.co.uk for more information.
- Unwind from stress
Stress comes in many guises from relationship stress, financial worries, difficulties at work, parenting troublesome teenagers to the physical stress of over-exercising. If your body is busy prioritising the production of stress hormones then this could disrupt female hormone balance and contribute towards ramping up menopausal symptoms. Schedule in some activities that help your body unwind from stress (yoga, meditation, walking, talking to friends) or sign up for some journey work, mindfulness coaching or counselling.
- Quit smoking
It’s becoming well-documented that smokers tend to have more frequent and more intense menopausal hot flushes compared to non-smokers. This may partly be due to the vasodilatory effect of nicotine. If giving up smoking is more challenging than you first though then seek help and aim to be nicotine free by the age of 45 or 50 at the latest. By the time you start experiencing hot flushes you’ll be thankful you decided to quit smoking before your menopause kicked in.
It’s never too early or too late to pick up these six steps and start to carve yourself a new, more comfortable pathway through the menopause. All it takes is a little bit of planning and dedication and you’ll soon be rewarded with the benefits of your efforts.
Author Susie Debice BSc HONS, Dip ION
Food Scientist and Nutritional Therapist