Menopause can be the most stressful time in a woman's life. We approach it with trepidation because mostly what we hear are awful stories of sleepless nights, hot flushes, waking up drenched in sweat, mood swings, weight gain, tiredness and low libido.
But this does not have to be your experience.
I am here to share my experience with you, which is a long way from all of the above. I hope that sharing my lifestyle and food choices can help you on your journey too.
My menopause journey
I went through the change a few years ago. We were experiencing a very stressful time having just moved country, changed schools, left friends and family and I was trying to set up a new business at the age of 50! If I had been twenty it would have seemed like an adventure, but at 50 this was not how I had imagined my life unfolding. Stress was definitely the cause of my change.
My cycle was as regular as clock work, so when one month I skipped, my first thought of course was pregnancy. Panic!
I did a test and it was negative. I didn't know it at the time but my cycle had changed and gone forever.
For over 12 years I have avoided eating animal products. I eat a rich plant based diet. I supplement with wheatgrass, chlorella and cold pressed juices daily. I also take some essential vitamins which I will list later.
How a plant based diet can help your menopausal body
I believe that a plant based diet is the way forward, if this sounds like a nightmare at least consider cutting down meat and dairy and buying organic. Hormones and antibiotics are freely fed to live stock to accelerate their growth and fight off infections. Many toxins are stored in animal fat cells. When you drink milk and eat meat you are taking on board their hormones, antibiotics and other toxins. High meat consumption causes inflammation which at this time in your life you need to avoid.
Foods that cause inflammation should be avoided, for example sugar, meat, dairy and coffee. Sad to say it but most things that stimulate your system cause inflammation. Unfortunately drinking alcohol raises your temperature and causes night sweats. I find white wine worse than red, happily Champagne is best. Gin and tonic makes me moody (probably why it was known as mothers ruin!)
Foods to add into your diet are a rich variety of vegetables and salads, wild and brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, sprouting living foods, nuts and seeds, cold pressed vegetable juices, herbs and spices, good essential fats like avocado, chia seed, flax seeds and hemp, herbs and spices. I love fresh turmeric and ginger. Both have anti-inflammatory properties.
Lifestyle changes to promote a gentle menopause
For stress I practise yoga and walk with my dog. I love to swim too and have just started wild swimming. I find running hard work as it seems to rattle my bones. Fast walking is better. I also love to cycle. It is important to exercise enough that your heart beat quickens and you sweat. If you aren't sweating you're not exercising hard enough! Do this at least 3 times a week to relieve stress and eliminate toxins. If you have access to a sauna then you are lucky indeed as they are great for releasing toxins.
Many women complain of sluggish bowels. This can be helped with a high fibre diet and the addition of wheatgrass and chlorella. They are both complete natural foods, high in plant protein and both are cleansers.
Don't forget to drink plenty of water! Dehydration leads to constipation and poor complexion. I recommend 2 litres of filtered water a day. The addition of fresh lemon juice helps keep you alkaline. Lemons are acid but on digestion turn to an alkaline ash.
For sleepless nights I highly recommend low dose CBD.
Chaste Berry helps stimulate progesterone which aids sleep too and is available from Amazon. Magnesium is also worth trying as it can be very beneficial for this too. However if I really need to sleep I just go straight to CBD as it works with immediate effect.
Let's talk about libido post-menopause
Low libido. This is the one thing that is not talked about openly and should be. Supplements that help low libido:
Ashwagandha: This Indian Ayurvedic herb helps stimulate blood flow to the female reproductive organs. It can increase arousal and sensitivity. For those on HRT you may want to avoid Ashwagandha as it promotes testosterone. Please check with your doctor.
Maca powder: Maca has been used for centuries to enhance fertilty and sex drive, and there is research to back it up. In 2008 Maca was proven to decrease sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women.
Magnesium: Makes it more difficult for testosterone to latch onto proteins in the body. Resulting in testosterone being distributed in the blood which helps kick up your sex drive.
Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements for Menopause
Anxiety can creep into your life at any stage but going through the menopause can increase it 10 fold. Once again CBD works a treat. 1-3 drops under your tongue when needed. CBD works well with anxiety but not so well with depression. Seek medical help for full blown depression and talk to your doctor about St John's Wort. I always try a natural remedy before prescription drugs. Your doctor will advise.
Essential vitamins: we all need to take supplements as we do not get adequate amounts from our food today.
Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and build strong bones. Osteoporosis is linked with menopause so make sure you are taking an adequate supply of vit D. Take with K2 for better absorption. Sadly lying in the sun once a year will not do the trick! Vitamin D forms on your skin, but it is water soluble so you are likely to wash it off after an hour on the beach.
B12 deficiency can lead to low iron which is a contributory factor with thinning and loss of hair. Another glorious complaint among women! Take B12 with a B complex as they work in synergy.
Taking a B6 supplement may help prevent symptoms caused by low serotonin levels. These include loss of energy and general tiredness. Beware taking too much B6 because it can lead to loss of feeling in your arms and legs known as peripheral neuropathy. This stops immediately after ceasing the B6. 200mg is considered too much.
B12 and B6 support cognitive function, which helps you think straight. Memory problems and brain fog are common complains during menopause.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which mop up free radicals. It helps reduce oxidative stress and protects you from heart disease and cancer.
I use all of the above mentioned and suffer no adverse effects of menopause!
Please feel free to reach out to me if in doubt about anything or if you've just forgotten something important due to brain fog!
The change of life is just a part of life's rich pageant and should be embraced not feared.
Links for supplements on Amazon. Simply copy and paste the link in to your browser.
Maca - https://amzn.to/3jXYahV
B12 - https://amzn.to/3aqRSUz
D3 K2 - https://amzn.to/3atUD7W
Ashwagnadna - https://amzn.to/2ZnQ6NE
B complex - https://amzn.to/3quzXlG
Vitamin E - https://amzn.to/3qoOO0V
Magnesium - https://amzn.to/2M32Arc