In the Western world the menopause is often portrayed as an illness when in fact it is simply a natural transition that women experience with age.
It is a gradual process and in the years leading up to the menopause several things happen: your egg supply diminishes; hormone production in your ovaries reduces and you stop ovulating each month. These changes can cause hormone related symptoms but the good news is that there are many perfectly natural ways to help support you through the transitional period and bring your body back into balance. Read on to learn more about symptoms and solutions.
In response to the reducing hormones coming from the ovaries, more follicle stimulating hormone is produced in your pituitary gland and your doctor may suggest a blood test to check if levels are high to confirm that the menopause has indeed begun. To compensate for the reducing hormone levels your fat cells and adrenal glands start production to try and bring about a new balance and in an ideal world that transition is smooth and symptom free.
However this is not always the case and if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms it is possible that you are already pre-menopausal:
· Erratic periods
· Hot flushes
· Night sweats and sleep problems resulting in fatigue
· Mood swings
· Joint pain
· Hair loss
· Lacklustre skin and hair
· Changes to body shape
· Loss of libido or vaginal dryness.
The good news is that there are many perfectly natural ways to help support you through the transitional period to minimise these symptoms and bring your body back into balance.
Following some simple dietary advice can lead to significant improvements by giving your body what it needs to cope with the changes. It is particularly important to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day. Your adrenal glands will already be having to work hard to balance hormone levels so the added pressure of trying to balance your sugar levels as well can lead to extreme fatigue. Eating regular meals, avoiding processed sugars and carbohydrates and including good quality protein in each meal or snack are the keys to success.
It is also particularly important to ensure you have these foods (preferably organic) included in your diet:
· phytoestrogens – this includes all of the legumes such as soya, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and aduki beans. These can help balance hormone levels. Soya foods such as tempe and miso are particularly helpful in reducing hot flushes and night sweat but for soya to be helpful it needs to be eaten in a fermented form. Soy-Isoflavin tablets are another way to get the benefit of fermented soy – we stock them at NTA if you would like to try some.
· good quality essential fats such as oily fish, nuts and seeds to help with dryness, fatigue, depression, painful joints, high cholesteral etc. They also support hormone balance. Minimising saturated fats such as red meat and cheese is also important due to their impact on acidity levels which increases calcium loss
· natural fibre in the form of fruit, vegetable and whole grains – this helps the bowel function which is so important in the detox process; as well as blood sugar balance. Aim for a range of brightly coloured fruit and veg which are also rich in antioxidants, slowing the aging process and boosting the immune system. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage are also beneficial.
· good hydration is key to the effective running of all body functions – good quality water or herbal teas is preferable. Sage, dandelion and nettle tea are helpful during menopausal symptoms.
By including these food groups in your diet, you will also ensure that you have sufficient intake of vitamin E which is also known to help reduce menopausal symptoms.
Herbal supplements also provide effective support during the menopause. A lot depends on your own specific symptoms but the most commonly used are agnus castus, black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle and sage.
We have worked with our herbalist to produce a carefully balanced and affordable menopause support powder to avoid the need for multiple supplements and these can be ordered on the product page of our website.
If it is adrenal fatigue that you are suffering from, you would benefit from our adrenal support powders, also on the product page.
It’s also important to look closely at lifestyle (and not just during the menopause!) and see if there are any other changes that can be made to increase your general well-being and reduce the load on your system during this time of change. Maybe ask yourself:
· What are my stress levels like and is there anything I can do to reduce then?
· Am I building in time in my day to relax and unwind?
· Am I getting enough exercise and if not what do I enjoy and how could I build that into my weekly routine?
Karen Shaw LCCH RSHom
Our NTA practitioners can help by carrying out a health assessment and tailoring a recovery plan specific to your individual needs. This includes lifestyle and dietary advice as well as herbal and homeopathic remedies. Please see the How we work page on our website for more info about appointments.