As a modern woman, do you feel that you are forever being pulled in several directions trying to juggle both home and work commitments? More and more is expected of us in terms of what we can achieve and therefore more stress is being put on our adrenal glands. As a result these glands end up being exhausted and unable to supply the additional hormones needed to ease the
effects of dropping levels of both progesterone and oestrogen making menopausal symptoms worse.
Previous generations of women did not have access to the information that we do now and so weren’t aware of the health issues surrounding the menopause. Women simply ‘got on with it’. Nowadays it is even viewed by some as an illness.
For more helpful advice on the menopause visit avogel.co.uk/health/menopause
Women are initially alerted to the start of menopause by changes in their monthly cycle. Some women experience shorter, heavier cycles, some longer and some a mixture of both. On the other hand, there are women who miss a period and never get another.
The most common and troublesome symptoms of the menopause are hot flushes and night sweats caused by the sudden drop in or lack of levels of oestrogen as the body prepares to stop ovulating. As the menstrual cycle comes to an end, the body becomes increasingly sensitive to extremes of hot and cold. The whole body becomes hot and flushed.
Night sweats can be particularly troublesome as they disrupt sleep and can therefore have a detrimental effect on quality of life. Usually these symptoms do not continue for too long. Avoiding spicy foods, alcohol and nicotine can help reduce these symptoms. Avoiding stressful and emotional situations can also prove helpful.
Fatigue, thinning hair and skin, low mood, vaginal dryness, arthritic-like aches and pains and low libido are all symptoms related to low oestrogen levels. Bear in mind though that these symptoms may be due to other causes and that it can be all too easy to blame them on the menopause if you are over 35 years of age.
Following a healthy diet is one way of reducing the likelihood of certain symptoms arising during the menopause. For example, sufficient iron will protect against fatigue, sufficient magnesium will protect the adrenals and reduce muscle spasm and general aches and pains. Vitamin C and B vitamins are good for the adrenals and help protect against the adverse effects of stress. Vitamin E and essential fatty acids will help protect the skin and prevent drying of tissues.
As your periods dry up, it is very important to be aware of what you are putting into your body. Toxins are expelled from the body via menstrual blood and this is why some women have heavy, unpleasant periods. It’s also important to make sure your bowels are working well. Choose unrefined foods rather than refined, eat more fruit and vegetables. If you are experiencing a lot of hot flushes or sweating, cut back on your intake of caffeine and increase your water intake.
To keep bones intact, try to incorporate some weight-bearing exercise into your routine, avoid acid-forming food and drink and take a magnesium supplement if required. Essential fatty acids are really helpful for keeping the mucous membranes healthy.
What we must bear in mind though is that many of the symptoms reported by
women experiencing the menopause are due to the huge pressures put upon them in their everyday lives or perhaps due to their lack of attention to diet and lifestyle. It’s not always down to hormones and the menopause.
Some women opt to take an oestrogen supplement e.g. HRT to help control the symptoms but please be aware that as soon as the treatment is discontinued the hot flushes will return. Given that this is the case it makes sense to explore the possibility of using a herbal remedy such as sage, one of the finest remedies for hot flushes.
Alison Cullen is a nutritionist at A. Vogel and a Healthy Soul expert. See Expert Panel.
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