The Wise Women: Empowerment for the Menopausal Transition
Friday night was the first of the 'Tahi Talks' and the topic was 'The Wisdom of Menopause'.
This blog covers much of the information that I shared and reiterates a few action points to make this life transition one of empowerment and ease.
Firstly, the Nitty gritty of the Menopause Definition.
Menopause can actually be divided into three parts: Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause.
Lets quickly define the three parts so we are all on the same page....
Menopause is specifically defined as the time period that starts 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle/period.
Perimenopause is the time period before menopause starts, when the woman's menstrual cycle is irregular and she may have symptoms due to the changes in hormone levels in her body. Perimenopause affects everyone differently in terms of symptoms or lack of.
Postmenopause: The years following Menopause.
When you Dr Google Menopause, it is easy to see why many people view it as a illness or something to be feared but I want to change those beliefs!
Menopause is a totally natural biological process, and should therefore not be considered a 'problem' to solve. Although it it is the end of a woman’s fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual through your 50's and well beyond.
The holistic approach is to empower women through this transition with natural approaches that work to promote balance with their own internal hormones as well as addressing emotional and mental aspects around this physiological change is important, particularly I think for women in the western world.
Considerable research shows significant variation across cultures in the menopausal experience. Biological, psychological, social and cultural factors are associated with either positive or negative attitudes, perceptions or experiences of perimenopause in various cultures. “In societies where age is more revered and the older woman is considered the wiser and better woman, menopausal symptoms are significantly less bothersome, even nonexistent” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive health at Yale Medical School, said. “Where older is not considered better, many women equate menopause with old age, and symptoms can be much more devastating.”
As we have known for a long time, unaddressed emotional and mental thoughts and beliefs can turn into physical symptoms. For many Menopause is not only a physical transformation, but also a spiritual and emotional one in which you will emerge wiser and more intuitive.
During Perimenopause there are a lot of hormonal changes that occur in the body which can cause uncomfortable symptoms. There are plenty of tools to use from a holistic perspective which are extremely effective and don't come with any negative side effects.
One test I often use with clients who have hormonal imbalances symptoms is the DUTCH test. It is considered the MOST informative test for hormones available. Here is a link to sample reports and more info https://dutchtest.com/resources/sample-reports/ Understanding what your hormones are doing is highly useful information and enables a targeted treatment plan to deliver the results you want more effectively. If you would like more information on this test please contact me directly here.
Diet and Lifestyle choices have a huge impact on our health and what you eat and how you live can have a profound impact on the way a women experiences Perimenopause.
When trying to support hormone balance and reduce any menopause symptoms, your diet should include plenty of healthy fats, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits with minimal processed foods. Let's go into a bit more detail...
Foods that help Manage Perimenopause Symptoms
Pure Water: Aim for your body weight x 30mls daily. Should at least be filtered as the tap water can negatively affect the bacteria in your gut.
Healthy fats: Are the building blocks for hormone production, they reduce inflammation, and promote satiety that is important for preventing weight gain. Unrefined oils provide essential vitamin E that helps regulate estrogen production. Look for unrefined coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil and hemp oil. Healthy fats include avocado, coconut milk, coconut yogurt, nuts, seeds and wild caught fish like sardines, trevally, wild caught salmon. Omega-3 fats from fish and flaxseed can protect the heart, promote smooth skin and help to counteract inflammation from omega-6 fats (found mostly in refined oils and low quality meat).
Phytoestrogen foods: Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that can mimic the effects of natural hormones your body produces. Their effects are controversial, so the research on their benefits or risks can seem overwhelming and conflicting. However, many of these studies have proved these dietary estrogens actually help some women during menopause by reducing cancer risk, reducing night flashes, protecting the heart and making the decrease in natural estrogen feel less drastic. Flaxseed is my pick of phytoestrogen foods as its high in fibre, contains Omega 3 and great for gut health. It tastes great in in my Hormone Balancing Porridge recipe!
Recipe details Here
Organic/Sprayfree fruits and vegetables: Contain dietary fiber to manage your appetite and support gut health, plus antioxidants to slow aging and phytosterols that can help balance hormones. The Herbicides and pesticides that are sprayed on much of the conventional produce are a load on the liver as well as having the ability to mimic hormones in the body (this is not a good thing). See the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen link for for information.
Cruciferous vegetables: These include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and kale contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels and supports the liver. They are high in fiber, vitamin C (important for progesterone production), vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for normal blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
Probiotic foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin. They support immune and cognitive function (brain fog be gone). The best food sources include coconut yogurt, kefir, cultured veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi, and kombucha.
Studies show that women who consume more plant foods are less likely to experience negative Menopausal symptoms. Platters like the above are easy to prepare and cover off a lot of the foods I've mentioned above.
Exercise: Find something you love! Include aerobic (like dancing, walking, running, swimming) and strength-training (body weight exercises, yoga, light weights). Exercising at least three or more times per week will result in improvements in body weight, sleep quality, insomnia or depression symptoms, bone density, muscle mass, and reduced inflammation.
Sleep: Super important for healing, restoring energy, balancing hormones, keeping stress levels under control, and reducing anxiety or depression. Aim for a regular bedtime and seven to nine hours a night.
Perimenopausal women often find sleep a challenge.
Try some of the following sleep support ideas:
Use hormone-balancing essential oils such as clary sage or lavender in a diffuser in the evening.
Write down thoughts, concerns, dreams and goals in a journal regularly
Take a magnesium supplement or having a Epsom salt bath prior to bed
Turning down the temperature in your room
Make the bedroom a technology free zone and turn off the WIFI at night
Commit to mind-body practices such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga and/or meditation.
Actively Reduce & Manage Stress
Increased anxiety, anger and feeling emotionally unstable and even episodes of depression are often reported during the perimenopause years in the western world.
Stress hugely impacts how hormonal health and our happiness factor!
Some effective ways to relieve stress include:
Prioritise what you love doing and do it regularly
Exercise in a way you enjoy
Spend time in nature everyday
Surround yourself in people that support and encourage you to be the best version of yourself
Learn something new for fun
Dedicate time to reconnect with your dreams and life goals
You will never be fulfilled if you don't support your spiritual health. What does this mean for you?
A few recommended herbs
Black Cohosh: Can help prevent hot flashes and night sweats. Research shows it may help improve sleep quality, reduce hormonal imbalances tied to diabetes or fibroids, and even help women with fertility prior to menopause (1)
Maca Root Powder: Used for centuries in South America to lower the effects of stress and aging on the body by supporting normal cortisol levels. It can reduce hot flashes, low energy/fatigue, restlessness while improving libido and energy.
Adaptogen Herbs: Medicinal Mushrooms and Tonic Herbs are adaptogens and offer protection from a variety of diseases, including those caused by excess stress. Research shows they can help improve thyroid function, lower cholesterol, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce brain cell degeneration, and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. My favourite way to include in the diet is Warming Tonic.
Tonic Recipe can be found Here
I hope this information gives you confidence to embrace this amazing life transition and take your role as with satisfaction as The Wise Women. If you have any specific concerns around this life stage feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Geller, S. E. Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/