MENOPAUSE: How to Avoid Being a Red Hot Mama or Anxious Annie

A sticker as seen on a – probably menopausal – woman’s car:

“I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun”.

As a female when you were in utero your entire life’s supply of about 400,000 eggs was formed. While your complex and delicate ovarian tissue was developing, any toxic environmental exposures could have altered or shortened your reproductive ability. Sensitivity to these Chemicals is the most common factor to unexplained male and female Fertility problems (see website TIPS articles). The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that the air inside a typical home is 2–5 times more polluted than the air outside due to standard cleaners, toiletries and other vapour-emitting materials. In some cases contamination is 100 times worse. New habits – and antioxidants, especially high in vegetables and fruit – can help protect you.

Your eggs were held until puberty when they fully matured. Each month pituitary hormones ensure one egg is released (ovulation) and the lining of the uterus or womb (endometrium) thickens in anticipation. If the egg is not fertilised progesterone levels (and often moods) dive; the lining sheds and you bleed. By your late 30s or 40s ovarian function, estrogen and progesterone levels and egg release begin to diminish. The gradual decline in Sex Hormones (TIPS) leads to changes in at least 300 types of responsive tissue such as skin, hair, brain, breasts, bones, blood vessels, heart, bladder, vagina and vulva. As hormone levels fluctuate periods may become heavier, lighter, longer, shorter or alternate. Moods and other symptoms can be similar to PMS. Pelvic pathology becomes more common so irregular bleeding should be checked (do this immediately if bleeding occurs after menopause) regarding the possibility of uterine polyps or fibroids; endometrial or cervical hyperplasia or cancer. Contrary to popular views, problems at menopause are not so much about less estrogen (sex hormones continue to be produced primarily by your Adrenals {TIPS}, also in body fat, liver, bone marrow and even hair roots) but the altered ratio between sex hormones. Often even less calmative progesterone is produced so unopposed estrogen (a growth and fat promoting hormone) can stimulate hormone sensitive cells into abnormal growth such as in breast, cervix or endometrium.

Menopause is defined as when a woman has gone 1 year with no menses. On average this is age 51 – true even in Ancient Greece. The phase leading up to this is called the climacteric, perimenopause or now more officially: menopausal transition (MT). Hormone levels can be tested, especially the pituitary’s follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which increases with age (levels above 40 indicate menopause). Early menopause is defined as being between the ages 40 and 45.

Genes play a role in the rate of ovarian ageing, but generational patterns around diet and other lifestyle factors also contribute. Smoking carries a 30% greater risk of earlier menopause; auto-immune disorders such as diabetes or thyroid disease and living at high altitude increase the likelihood. Premature menopause relates to women under age 40. This can be due to poverty and malnutrition, while the role of environmental toxins is also being investigated. Surgical menopause occurs with removal of the uterus or ovaries such as with a hysterectomy. Medical menopause can occur with treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy (in some cases fertility returns).

Sleep and Fatigue: Going to bed too hungry will wake you up, especially if you are stress-prone. Steady blood sugar levels (BSL) are critical for mental and physical work and during deep cycles of Sleep (TIPS) to do brain repair with the help of antioxidants. Otherwise the adrenal hormone cortisol is released (as it is during sleep when processing Alcohol: TIPS) so you can deal with the fuel supply crisis. Going to bed too full will wake you up, especially if you are inflammation-prone. Digestion (TIPS) is substantial and lengthy; have dinner 3 hours or more before sleep. Any problem areas along the conveyor belt will struggle for peak efficiency with high food volume, especially while you signal for rest. Avoid stimulants after dinner such as lots of processed Sugars or highly refined carbohydrates which can cause BSL to spike; after 2 pm avoid Caffeine (TIPS; ordinary coffee and tea, chocolate, energy or soft drinks) as it can take the liver 8 hours to break down.

Employ calmative strategies before bed: low lighting; restful music or book; bath; chamomile tea. No work, exercise, computer use, stressful topics or over-stimulating entertainment that presses your nervous system’s gas peddle. To fall asleep, keep your room as cool as possible. Use light cotton sheets and sleepwear (in case of flushes and sweats) but enough wool blankets to see you through the body temperature drop at 4 am. If you tend to wake up then, set a small column heater to turn on low at 3 am. Take nature’s relaxant Magnesium (TIPS) with meals and before bed (contact this office to determine the ideal form and co-factors for your symptom profile).

Hot Flushes and Night Sweats: Men and teens too can get these too due to an overworked Liver (ensure B vitamins, Zinc, magnesium, soluble fibre; limit alcohol, caffeine, food volume, chemicals, Medications, additives, poor quality Fats; TIPS) or adrenals (ensure vitamin C, potassium, magnesium; use yoga, deep breathing, lights out by 10 pm; lower alcohol, caffeine, refined carbs/sugars, standard salt). This sudden vasodilation requires a whole system solution. Check for sources of Inflammation such as poorly digested food fractions you may no longer tolerate (eg Gluten, Modern Milk; TIPS; contact this office for an allergy test). Avoid spicy hot food. Increase phytoestrogens (plant forms that adapt to your hormone needs): high in linseed, Soy, Legumes (TIPS, RECIPES), alfalfa, and red clover (from health stores; brew as tea). Decrease xenoestrogens (synthetic forms such as from toxic chemicals and standard dairy products). Exercise antidotes the profile typical to hot flushes of low endorphins, high FSH. It lowers high cortisol and stress levels, which often precede flushes. Deep breathing shortens flushes; use before and during your trigger stressors. Keep hydrated with water as a coolant and liquid chlorophyll (from alfalfa) to increase alkalinity as acidity encourages inflammation. Eat cooling raw fruit or veg with each meal. Use anti-inflammatories such as Omega 3 fish oil, vitamin E; sex hormone regulators such as B6, zinc and magnesium.

Mind, Mood and Memory: High cortisol levels (from stress: psychological, dietary or health-issue based) impair cognition and memory storage; suppress immunity and thyroid function (affecting mood, weight, cognition, temperature); disturb BSL (affecting mood, memory, vitality, Weight-TIPS). Regular exercise helps all these concerns. It swiftly delivers stored fuel to the brain and muscles. Break up each hour of sitting with a few stretches or laps around home or office. Enjoy 6 x 30 minutes weekly of walking, sport, gardening, or dancing. Your brain is 2% of your weight but requires 25% of your blood sugar. To regulate BSL each meal and snack must have fibre (especially soluble), protein and a little fat; include helpers such as crunchy textures; culinary acids (lemon, vinegar); cinnamon; and lower BSL-spiking caffeine and high sugar/starch content. Most of your brain is made of fat, predominantly in the form of Omega 3 DHA (as found in dark, oily fish). Brain and body fats can oxidise (damage similar to rust) when the diet is high in poor quality fats and low in anti-oxidants. Neurotransmitters that instruct your system to speed up or slow down are made from protein and function thanks to all vitamins and minerals but especially B, C, zinc and magnesium. Note the repeated themes! Enjoy regular massage, facials: Me-Time. Take 10 minutes or more daily to sit solo and slow breathing, thoughts (and cortisol) in silent or guided meditation eg: Quiet Mind Cafe

Bones, Joints, Heart and Blood Vessels: Less progesterone and estrogen means slower bone building and more loss. HRT and Fosamax for osteoporosis increase stroke, cardiovascular and cancer risks. Instead use regular weight bearing exercise and alkaline minerals: magnesium, calcium, potassium, silica. If the diet is too acidic your kidneys extract those minerals from storage sites (Bones-TIPS; joints, muscles, heart) to prioritise them for regulating blood acidity and blood pressure. Muscles and nerves are then tense with impaired digestion, sleep, relaxation and blood vessel function. Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer of women over 50. Abdominal weight gain increases the risk. Arterial walls can crack, thicken, rigidify and build up with fatty plaques of LDL cholesterol which impedes crucial blood flow to the heart and brain (while oft-advised daily aspirin can lead to stomach ulcers).

Alkaline minerals can address cracking and rigidity (as they do on nails, skin) as can vitamin E, Omega 3 and other healthy fats. Soluble fibre forms an inseparable bond with the liver’s stores of LDL, unwanted hormones and heavy metals; and is #1 for gall bladder, liver health; regulating BSL and thus weight. Eat top soluble fibre sources at least 2 meals daily (especially my Linseed Cereal recipe; see The Shape Diet). Soluble and insoluble fibre feed healthy bowel bacteria. This improves elimination, immunity, and beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.

Libido, Vagina, Vulva, Urethra and Bladder: Natural vitamin E capsules can be inserted vaginally at night to improve lubrication and tissue plumpness. This helps prevent infection there or entering the nearby urethra and thus the entire urinary tract. Do not apply perfumed products or anything not 100% natural. If you develop an infection insert a garlic oil capsule (plus consider oral garlic, zinc and vitamin C). Drink 8 water/herb teas daily to flush the system. Minimise caffeine, sugar and an acidic diet (TIPS: Kidneys). Ensure easy, daily bowel elimination with sufficient exercise; soluble and insoluble fibre; water; muscle and nerve-governing magnesium and Calcium (TIPS). Eat prebiotics (psyllium, slippery elm) to feed immunity-promoting bacteria. After antibiotics, take one bottle of probiotics (strains of good bacteria). Do specific exercises to prevent or deal with incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Women are rarely interested in sex if they are tired, unhappy or unwell so help your whole being as above to feel good and thus feel interested. Desire might be slower to ignite than in youth but relax into it for the personal and relationship benefits. As the TV cheese ad and wisdom inform us, “Good things take time”.

Maria Middlestead Reg.Clinical Nutritionist, Auckland Call Today!

Comments

DEBBIE TEREI
Reply

Hi Maria,

I wash hoping you could help, I desperately need some advice on my health. I’m 58 years old, I lost my youngest son 3 years ago and life has never been the same, as you can imagine.
I have had my weight yo-yo over the last 3 years and am at the point of just not knowing when to do or try to loose this 8 kgs. Your read so many fad diets and everyone has an opinion, but I was looking for someone who understands the broken body of a 58 year old who feels as though she is continually thickening.

Kind regards, talk soon
Deb Terei xxx

Maria Middlestead
Reply

Hi Deb, that sounds so frustrating.I will contact you by email and look forward to offering a helping hand!Warm Regards, Maria

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