Menopause Nutrition & Lifestyle Tips: How to Support Your Health during this change
Coping with the many symptoms of the menopause could make this hormone transition an unbearable time of life for some. To celebrate World Menopause Day on the 18th of October we are sharing some of the best nutrition and lifestyle tips to help you make this transition as smooth as possible.
First of all….What is the menopause?
Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower key female hormone levels- concretely oestrogen and progesterone. Your menopause is likely to occur sometime between the age of 45 and 55, but a small percentage of women can experience early menopause in their mid-thirties. It all begins with the perimenopause, which can start from one to ten years before your periods have stopped- this is when you might notice symptoms creeping in.
Why do you get some of these symptoms?
Oestrogen and progesterone might take sudden dips during the menopause and have an impact on thyroid activity and metabolism, which is expressed as fatigue, low mood, listlessness and even depression.
Vaginal and urinary tract
Alterations in the fine balance of hormones can affect the mucous membranes of your vagina and vulva lessening the amount of lubrication in these areas. This may lead to uncomfortable dryness, burning, itching and pain. Niacin, vitamin B2 and biotin all contribute to the maintenance of normal mucous membranes and normal skin. Choosing a B complex formula also provides you with vitamin B6 which can be particularly beneficial during hormonal fluctuations because of its contribution to the regulation of hormonal activity.
One of the bugbears for many women is the visible deterioration of skin quality, tone and texture which tends to occur quite rapidly within the first few months. Once oestrogen starts to dwindle, collagen content in the skin is reduced too and you may start to experience increased dryness, decreased firmness, less elasticity and more wrinkles.
In fact, around 30% of the collagen in your skin is likely to be lost during the first five years following your menopause.
Topping up on hydrolysed collagen peptides can be a game changer for women trying to keep their skin looking and feeling radiant and youthful. A daily dose of hydrolysed collagen peptides are ideal because they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream helping to replenish collagen.
Team it up with Vitamin C- which is the only nutrient necessary for collagen production. Its antioxidant properties are crucial for skin firmness and elasticity, but are easily depleted, therefore replenishing daily is key for keeping the benefits.
Study show taking 3 sachets of Altrient C daily for 3 months increases skin elasticity by 63% and reduces fine lines and wrinkles by 13% (report).
Diet and Nutrition: your best allies
Smoking, caffeine and carbs
Women who tend to smoke, drink lots of coffee and eat more sugar tend to have more frequent and more intense hot flushes. It’s thought that these stimulants tend to increase stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol and disrupt blood sugar balance and this coupled with days when hormone levels plummet may trigger the body’s thermostat to miss read the body temperature and instigate a hot flush in attempt to cool the body down.
Keep away from: caffeine, sugary foods, starchy carbs and energy drinks as these tend to give a short energy burst followed by a pronounced and prolonged energy dip. Avoid alcohol, as it disrupts sleep and it´s a nervous system depressant leading to low mood and anxiety.
Instead go for: Complex carbs and plenty of fibre from fresh fruits and vegetables, which helps support blood sugar balance and a normal stress response. Swap white bread, rice and pasta for brown or wholegrain alternatives!
Caffeine exacerbates hot flushes and insomnia; it increases the rate at which calcium is lost from the body and puts additional stress on the adrenal glands-Jackie Newson, Nutritional Therapist
Including foods that are rich in phyto-oestrogens (fennel, cucumber, lentils, alfalfa, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, miso) help support hormone balance. It’s thought that the phyto-oestrogen found in these foods have a similar chemical structure to the natural oestrogen that the body makes. They can fit into oestrogen receptor sites found on cell membranes and may have an oestrogen balancing effect which is thought to help with some of the symptoms of the menopause.
However, if you have suffered from breast cancer or have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family then you need to avoid or be extremely careful when considering adding these foods into your diet.
Are you experiencing days of extreme tiredness and unexplained fatigue which is often not restored by rest and sleep? Scientists have discovered that it’s specifically B1, B2 and B6 that are involved with regulating our metabolism. For this reason, it's important to focus on foods rich in B Vitamins: asparagus, sunflower seeds, edamame beans, squash, peas, almonds, eggs, mushrooms and green leafy vegetables like spinach- pulses and lentils are big on B’s so they should be top of your shopping list.
However, these vitamins tend not to be stored in the body, so a daily supply is super essential as your travel through the menopause. Topping up your diet with liposomal Altrient B-Complex is a sensible way to give your body that extra boost of B-vitamins to help support your energy as your hormones continue to change.
Post-menopausal women have a much higher risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, a disease characterised by weak, brittle bones. Look for foods that are rich in calcium and magnesium-which are important for bone health. These foods include nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin D is a real bone hero during this phase of a woman’s life as it contributes to normal calcium absorption, supports normal blood calcium levels and contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.
Lifestyle Hacks for the menopause
Women who are fit and active tend to have a smoother ride through the menopause. In addition, regular exercise helps improve cardiovascular health, which will enhance the flow of oxygen and nutrients around the body, improving cellular functions and thus hormone balance. Try a regular weight bearing exercise class as a good way to help encourage bone strengthening or aerobic exercise, which has been shown to bring immediate symptom relief amongst menopausal women. Keep it fun and achievable and know your limits to avoid injury.
After the menopause your adrenal glands play a role in hormone balance, if they are preoccupied with dealing with stress or are tired and exhausted then your post-menopausal production of adrenal oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone may become compromised.
Furthermore, high stress levels may push the adrenals to convert progesterone into the stress hormone cortisol. This can be a factor in hormone imbalance so it’s important to find ways to lighten your load – get a support network in place and find ways to resolve troublesome relationships.
Get Some Beauty Sleep
In terms of skin quality and appearance, lack of sleep around the menopause could also take its toll, promoting dark shadows under the eyes and impairing skin integrity. Sleep deprivation may disrupt the restorative effects on the immune system, which could lower immune responses and this could seem to affect collagen synthesis.
Tips for a good routine:
Make sure your bedroom is dark enough
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
Avoid using screens before bedtime
Don’t exercise too late at night as this may energise you
Have a warm bath with magnesium salts to promote relaxation
Add some lavender oil to your pillow – which aids sleep
Listen to meditative music to help you drift off to sleep
Add Magnesium to your life
Magnesium might help you sleep and keep you relaxed and calm by contributing to the normal functioning of the nervous system. Magnesium Food sources include green vegetables, nuts seeds and wholegrains so adding these into your meal plans can be very beneficial.