WHAT IS MENOPAUSE
Menopause is a natural process that is defined as the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian eggs. With no remaining eggs, the ovaries no longer produce the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone at the same level or in the same cycle. It’s the drop in these hormone levels, together with other hormonal changes, as the body adjusts that are responsible for the symptoms of menopause.
The diagnosis is typically made retrospectively after a woman has missed her period for 12 consecutive months, and so marks the permanent end of fertility. For most people in the UK, this occurs between their 40s and 60s with the average age around 51.
The experience of menopause changes from person to person in terms of symptoms and severity.
The most common symptoms are:
- Hot flushes and night sweats.
- Emotional and psychological disturbances, for example anxiety, depression and irritability
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary problems
- Loss of libido
- Joint and muscle pain
Hormones have a broad and varied effect on the body. Past history of contraception use and other exogenous interventions may also impact the menopausal transition, which is why symptoms can vary widely from woman to woman.
Conventional treatment is to consider Hormone Replacement Therapy, but the good news is that the symptoms of menopause can be managed with diet, lifestyle support and targeted nutraceutical support.
Hormone balance includes addressing deficiencies through tailoring your nutrition and lifestyle with the aim of reducing your symptoms and improving your health and wellbeing through this time.
Below, we have listed below some key areas which can be impacted with targeted nutrition:
Vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats, are the primary symptoms of menopause. Avoiding stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate and spicy foods can help reduce hot flushes. Herbs such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil and phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds, soy and red clover can also be helpful.
Balancing blood sugar helps to better manage your energy levels. It is beneficial to focus on protein-based snacks like nuts rather than foods high in quick-release sugars such as cakes, biscuits and sweets.
Eating foods that boost your serotonin levels, such as turkey, oats and legumes can also help stabilise your sleep.
The essential fatty acids (healthy fats) contained in nuts and seeds can help prevent dry skin. Try adding some pumpkin and sunflower seeds to your diet. These contain vitamin E, zinc and calcium which can all helpful.