A few simple steps could make all the difference to how you experience Menopause – and turn it from a time of dread to a period of power…
Depression, hot flushes, insomnia, weight gain around the tummy, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, loss of skin tone, constipation – etc., etc., etc. We all know what these are the symptoms of – a time when all women look to with fear and dread…
Have you started menopause yet? Are you having a tough time with it? Or is it something that you’ve still got to look forward to? Is Menopause something that you worry about?
If so, read on – and together we’ll help to minimise the negative symptoms and hopefully you’ll embrace Menopause as a ‘period of power’ rather than a time of dread.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is simply the time around a woman’s life when she stops menstruating (having periods). Menopause occurs over different lengths of time for various women – some stop having periods abruptly; while others have their periods slow in both frequency and amount over a period of a few years. Menopause can occur in women as young as 40, and throughout the next 15 or more years of life.
Rather than being age-related, it’s important to understand that Menopause has to do with the ‘burning out’ of your ovaries. This means that it’s the number of finite eggs present in your ovaries that determines when Menopause will occur for you.
If you have kept yourself nutritionally well throughout life, eaten well, exercised, maintained a suitable body weight and managed your stress well, then your Menopause may be much later than someone who hasn’t kept themselves well and healthy throughout life.
This means that it’s too simplistic to think of Menopause as being ‘a deficiency of oestrogen’ – many other lifestyle and dietary factors impact on when and how you will experience Menopause. The great thing about knowing this fact is that you are able to exercise a degree of control over how you will experience the symptoms of Menopause – and that’s good news.
Menopause – a condition related to hormones
While Menopause is a time in your life when you stop having periods, when and how this occurs are as a result of the effect of hormones on your body. Hormones are chemicals produced by your endocrine glands – special organs that provide powerful natural chemicals (your hormones) which affect all aspects of your health and wellbeing. Examples of endocrine glands include the Adrenals, the Thyroid, and the Ovaries.
Because the health of your body is determined, in large part, by the effective functioning of your endocrine glands – and these glands’ effectiveness are affected by your nutrition and lifestyle, it stands to reason that you can affect many aspects of Menopause by influencing your diet and lifestyle.
How to enhance the quality of your endocrine glands
Good functioning endocrine glands (particularly Adrenals, Thyroid and Ovaries) can markedly affect not only ‘when’ you go through Menopause – but also ‘how’ you go through it (i.e. how bad your symptoms are).
I’d like to highlight three things that you can start today to do that will enhance the quality of your endocrine glands and, therefore, influence your ultimate outcome with regards to Menopausal symptoms.
First Step – Build up your energy with special exercises
In Chinese Medicine, the cooling kidney Yin energy reduces during Menopause. This means that you become more susceptible to heat (e.g. hot flashes and insomnia due to overheating, and skin dryness). To counteract this issue, you need to increase your Jing (precious kidney energy). You can do this through gentle exercises such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga. Beyond Good Health offers Tai Chi classes each week if you’re interested. Alternatively, there are many good Qi Gong and Tai Chi classes around Australia.
Second Step – Assess your eating habits
I can hear you groan already, ‘Nooooo – I need my chocolate and coffee and bakery items!!’ But, sadly, these and other foods and drinks increase your kidney heat and make your Menopause symptoms worse. So, it’s important (if you want a minimally problematic Menopause time) to assess your eating habits and make necessary changes.
To minimise stress on your adrenals and support your body during Menopause (and before), avoid:
- Refined starches
- Spicy, hot food
To help your body cope with the hormonal changes during Menopause, eat:
- Tryptophan-containing food such as turkey
- Naturally-occurring phytoestrogen (plant foods with oestrogen-like elements) foods such as non-GMO soy
- Indole-rich foods like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts
Third Step – Evaluate and address your stress levels
Stress adversely affects the adrenals, your kidney energy and your overall health. When stress is severe and/or persistent, this can have a seriously debilitating effect on your health and hormone levels – and can really cause your Menopausal symptoms to be exacerbated. So, address the stressors in your life by asking and acting on the following questions:
- What can I say ‘no’ to?
- How can I say ‘yes’ to myself more often?
- What people, situations and experiences affect me the most stress-wise, and how can I minimise those?
If you do this evaluation and work at removing/addressing these stressors, you’ll find that your stress-related hormones will be more normalised – and this will, in turn, improve your Menopausal symptoms.
No matter how well you adhere to these strategies of improving your energy through special exercises, address your eating habits and evaluate the stressors in your life – you may still need help. Each one of us is an individual and your health is influenced by your genes (both your mum’s and dad’s), your lifestyle, and your nutrition. So, you may need assistance ‘tweaking’ your diet and getting specific nutritional support to help you through Menopause. It’s best to do so before Menopause symptoms start affecting your life, but even if you’re experiencing tough symptoms right now, it’s not too late.
Seek out a medical practitioner who is trained in holistic, integrative medicine. I suggest this because a doctor can test your blood to make sure that your liver, kidneys and immune system are all working well, and that your blood hormone levels are within range. They can also test for mineral deficiencies and other medical issues. If they also have integrative medicine training, then additional salivary hormone testing and a range of natural, non-HRT solutions can be considered and implemented. If you take this ‘holistic’ approach to your health, it will turn Menopause into a Period of Power, and you will enjoy the many benefits that come from well-balanced hormones during this important time in your life.
Facebook Videos on Menopause and Hormones
It’s important to me that all my patients have as much effective information about health topics that are important to them as possible. So, I’m posting on the Beyond Good Health Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BeyondGoodHealth/) videos that deal with such important issues as Hormones, Menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), etc. If you’d like to learn more about Menopause and Hormones during this crucial period of time in your life, please go to the Beyond Good Health Facebook for videos and other health information posts.
Yours in health
Dr Price (Holistic Doctor, Naturopath, Nutritionist)
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