Menopause, and its various symptoms, is going to impact us all – at some point! Whilst we may know women who have sailed through this transitional life stage with no noticeable symptoms at all, most women will find that they experience at least a few, and for others it may be truly debilitating.
Some of the more common of the many and varied symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Feelings of being crazy
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
When our ovaries retire at menopause, it’s our adrenals (stress glands) that take over their function. So if we go into menopause with already exhausted and depleted adrenals, then our chances of having a more symptomatic menopause is vastly increased.
So looking after our adrenals well before Menopause or even peri menopause is of vital importance. This means taking care of ourselves, finding ways to reduce or manage our stress, prioritising self care and shifting out of fight or flight as much as we can. (Click here for more ideas on this).
Each woman will experience her menopause differently. This is why getting an individual plan of action is always going to be better than trawling the internet for the latest miracle supplement!
Nutrition for Menopause
Nutrition is one part of the picture that should be used alongside any other treatment such as hormone replacement therapy. We need to make sure all our hormones are balanced and this includes our blood sugar hormones insulin and glucagon. We need to eat balanced meals and snacks so we don’t experience the sugar highs and crashes that just exacerbate hormonal symptoms.
We also want to look at increasing our intake of good fats and omega fats (think avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish). We need the essential fatty acids from fats to produce hormones! Most of the time in my clinic, I see so many women who are scared of fats and just don’t get enough of them from their daily diet.
We can also look at mineral deficiencies. For example magnesium and B vitamins are vitally important to nourish the adrenals, as are homeobotannical herbs.
Another important factor will be exercise. Again this supports our adrenals by reducing cortisol levels, and also lowers insulin resistance and stress, and can improve hormone balance and glucose tolerance.
We need to support the liver too, so that it can play its role in detoxing the body from excess hormones. The liver needs to produce enough good quality bile to break down fats and carry the excess hormones out the body. If we don’t have enough bile then this leads to fatigue, poor oestrogen metabolism, weight gain, hypothyroidism and constipation.
So it’s very clear that liver and gallbladder support is an essential part in managing our menopause.
Digestion and getting our gut bacteria in balance is essential too, and is another way in which a nutritional therapist can help. Our gut bacteria can produce enzymes called beta glucaronidase which, when high, contributes to releasing oestrogen that has been sent to the gut for excretion, back into circulation! This can lead to oestrogen dominance and all sorts of symptoms. So getting our gut bacteria in balance is really important. We can run stool tests to look at our gut bacteria and other digestive markers, including beta glucaronidase, so this can be really helpful. Read more on this here.
How a nutritionist can help
The great news is then, that there are many ways we can support women through menopause to improve and even eliminate symptoms. It doesn’t have to be a terrible time of suffering and sleepless nights. We can embrace the change and nourish ourselves both physically and emotionally, prioritise our self care, improve our diet, use supplements and/or medications, exercise better and manage our stress levels.
Supporting our liver, gallbladder and adrenals, rebalancing our gut microbiome and digestion, as well as looking at nutrition, deficiencies and supplements are all things that I can help with, so please be in touch.