6 hot tips for surviving menopause: Excuse the pun! For those of you going through menopause at the moment you may be having one of those hot moments, or have had sleepless nights with night sweats, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, and prickling skin to name a few symptoms. With the summer heat many of these symptoms are exacerbated, so I thought it might be a good time to share some ideas to help you through the hot weather and this period in your life.
By Jane Cronin- Clinicians Naturopath
1. Take Care of your adrenal glands during Menopause
This is my number 1 tip as they are a big factor in menopause and a big contributor to the hot flushes and sleepless nights. When our ovaries stop making oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, production is continued in the adrenal glands and fat cells (hence our body trying to keep hold of fat at this time making it harder to lose weight).
Generally the adrenal glands (the red bits above the kidneys in the picture) are busy producing hormones that help us deal with stress and other bodily functions. So for busy, multitasking women the adrenal glands are at full capacity and the extra work load on them to produce ovarian hormone is the last straw. Hence the reason so many women suffer with hot flushes when under stress.
Key vitamins for adrenal health are Vitamin C, B5 and B6, as they are all essential for hormone production. Foods high in vitamin c are citrus fruits, rock melon, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi fruit and sweet red peppers.
Food sources of B5 and 6 include brewer’s yeast, soybeans, sunflower seeds, eggs, avocado, and fish. There are also some great herbs that you can use to support the adrenal glands.
The ginseng family are known as adaptogens, as the help the body adapt to stress.They are also energising, so great to take in the morning to help if you have had a poor night’s sleep and have a busy day ahead. Withania is another herb that is an adaptogen, but is also relaxing and sedating; so great for at night. Rehmania and licorice root are help to nourish the adrenal glands. Clinicians have products specifically designed to support you during this time - make sure you ask us on 0800 622 533 for more information
2. Balance your blood sugar during menopause
By balancing blood sugar you can help to stabilise energy and mood. Low blood sugar can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and makes you crave more sugary or starchy snacks that make things worse. To prevent this eat little and often; 3 main meals and 2 snacks. Include protein at each meal as this has slower energy release e.g. nuts, legumes, meat, eggs, dairy. Try to minimise white bread, white rice and sugary foods/drinks that can give you sugar peaks and dips.
3. Reduce stimulants
Minimise caffeinated teas, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. These are stimulants and will make hot flushes worse
There are some foods that can be eaten that are called phytoestrogens. They are chemically similar to the oestrogens in the body and can bind to the oestrogen receptors on our cells helping with hormone balance.
This in turn helps to reduce symptoms of menopause. Foods high in phytoestrogens are soy beans and other members of the pea family, flax seed, nuts, wholegrains, apples, fennel, celery, parsley and alfalfa.
There are also some popular herbs that perform this function such as black cohosh, red clover and sage. Sage is also great for reducing excess sweating, so doubly good. Also licorice root (not the lollies) is a phytoestrogen and is also a great adrenal gland tonic.
5. Love your liver
Looking after your liver is another very important factor in hormonal health, especially during menopause. The liver is tied up with hormonal health in a couple of ways. Firstly it is involved in the processing and distribution of hormones into the blood stream where they are act as chemical messengers to the body’s tissues and organs.
Secondly it removes excess hormones from the blood stream and sends them off to be eliminated from the body. Therefore it is very much involved in hormonal balance. However, if the liver is over burdened with its main job of detoxifying the body it may not do this very well and this can then lead to menopausal symptoms.
Therefore to support your liver try reducing its workload by reducing caffeine and alcohol. Stop smoking and cut out junk food, sugar and environmental chemicals (e.g. sprays, chemical cleaning products, fumes etc).
Then provide support by drinking plenty of water and give it antioxidants to help the cleaning process (increase your brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables). There are many herbs that help support the liver and herbs such as milk thistle and globe artichoke also help to repair previous damage. Ask us for Clinicians products to support you durning this time.
6. Protect your bones
Regular weight bearing exercises help to keep bone density, which starts to deplete in menopause. More active exercise like cycling, aerobics or walking can help reduce stress and increase those “feel good” hormones.