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Menopause

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

The perimenopause can be one of the trickiest times for women to get their head

around. One minute you’re busy having a family and all that goes with it and all of a

sudden, the years sneak up on you and you don’t quiet feel like the woman you once

were! You may notice your energy levels have dropped and some days you’re

literally dragging yourself through the day, you’ve lost your get up and go for no

reason, you can’t seem to shift that foggy feeling in your brain and the scales is

moving in the wrong direction even though your diet hasn’t changed! Welcome to

the menopause, well technically the term ‘menopause’ is inaccurate because it

represents the end of symptoms, whereas the stage that most women struggle

through is called peri-menopause, which can last anything from two to ten years

until the last period.

The average age of menopause is 51. You officially reach menopause when you have

had no periods for 12 consecutive months.


Women typically start to experience perimenopause in their 40s and for some the

only sign is that your periods start to become more irregular, this is due to the fact

that in the perimenopause, Progesterone levels fall rapidly as you stop ovulating as

regularly. the levels of one of the main female sex hormones, oestrogen, rises and

falls unevenly and it’s falling at a slower rate than progesterone, meaning you can

end up being oestrogen dominant, that’s a ratio of too much oestrogen to

progesterone. This is usually what’s behind many of the typical symptoms

experienced during the transition to menopause. The stress hormone cortisol can

also increase making sleep more difficult and leading to weight gain.

The thyroid comes under increased pressure, and low levels of thyroid hormones can

bring mood changes, weight increases, constipation and a sluggish feeling.

Your hormones work together synergistically. When one or more is out of kilter,

there can be an effect on the others, too.

The length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light

to really heavy and with worse PMS than ever before, and you may even skip some

periods only for them to return out of the blue with a vengeance.

You might also experience some of the symptoms traditionally associated with the

menopause, like night sweats, hot flushes, sleep problems, mood swings, more UTIs

like cystitis and vaginal dryness, poor memory, brain fog, cravings, bloating, loss of

sex drive and irritability. Around this time, you might begin to notice your waistline is

expanding and you just can’t seem to shift that “fat around the middle”. Once

women hit their 40s, they typically gain an average of 1lb a year so you could easily

be a stone heavier by the time you reach 54.

Remember going through the peri-menopause is not an illness, it is the most natural

thing in the world, although if your experiencing it right now you might be thinking

this is anything but natural!! but you do have some control over managing


symptoms. It’s all about making some changes to your diet, stepping up your self

care and taking action to reduce stress, and moving gently.


Diet

It really is important to start taking a closer look at your diet as Unfortunately when

we reach this part of our life we just can’t get away with eating the way we did when

we were younger, as The drop in oestrogen levels that occurs during menopause has

a side effect of redistributing body fat and excess pounds start to settle around the

waist. On top of that, the change that happens in relation to oestrogen and

progesterone at this stage of life is also likely to make your body less sensitive to

insulin, the fat storage hormone. This is produced in response to you eating

carbohydrates. When the body’s cells are less sensitive to insulin, more insulin is

needed to do the same job, and more insulin produced means more fat stored.

This is where a low carbohydrate is very beneficial, focusing on low GL

carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, moderate protein and healthy fats coming from

oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.

You may benefit from adding phytoestrogens to your diet. Phytoestrogens are plant-

based chemicals (the good kind), which are structurally similar to oestrogen and

exert a weak oestrogenic effect. They include soy beans, lentils, beans, chickpeas,

tofu, barley, rye, oats, alfalfa, apples, pears, carrots, fennel, onion, garlic, sunflower

seeds, flaxseeds, liquorice root.

Managing stress

Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones and it can lead to weight gain and leave

you feeling fatigued. Even though it is the imbalance of hormones that are behind

most of your symptoms, the effects of stress can be just as debilitating.

Most hormones are made from the same basic ingredients. When it’s under stress,

the body prioritises those jobs that are useful for sustaining life, which means that

when you are stressed, your body will make stress hormones ahead of anything else.

So all those raw materials that might have gone to make oestrogen now won’t.

therefore managing your stress is essential to managing your peri-menopausal

symptoms!

Exercise

As the weight creeps on, it’s very common for women to start getting into the types

of exercise that are very punishing on the body, like running and high intensity

interval training.


What do I mean by punishing?

These very intense forms of exercise stress the body and, if your body is already

stressed, it’s just too much. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba and other dance-based classes are

a good alternative as is a good power walk.

Resistance training (weights) is also good to help with the loss of muscle. Strength

training also helps maintain balance, and avoid injury—important for protecting your

skeleton both now and when you’re older.

Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise, especially if you have any

underlying health conditions, you consider yourself to be unfit or very overweight.

Supplements

Menopause supplements can provide natural support for those who may be

experiencing some of the symptoms related to the menopause. It’s important to

note that not all supplements will suit everyone and may not be safe for someone

with an underlying health condition or those taking medication, therefore it is

advisable to only take a supplement protocol recommended to you by a

professional.






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