The average age for the menopause is 51 but the peri-menopause can begin a long time before your last period. While the most widely discussed symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats, the symptoms are wide-ranging and you may be surprised to learn how many symptoms can be related to the change:
– Lighter or much heavier periods for a time
– Hot flushes, chills, night sweats
– Muscle aches and joint pains
– Sleep disturbances
– Mood changes, irritability, anxiety, depression
– Vaginal dryness, loss of libido
– Dry eyes, dry skin and poor hair quality
– Dry mouth, burning mouth syndrome, changes in gum health
– Weight gain, difficulty losing weight
– Lower energy, fatigue
– Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses
This may sound like a frightening list of symptoms and not everyone experiences the same menopause. Some women sail through the menopause, but for those who don’t, the good news is that it there are a huge number of dietary and lifestyle changes you can make which can make a significant impact. We have picked our top three tips here from our vast experience in dealing with these symptoms:
- Cut out the caffeine
Some women will find that just this one tip can have a significant impact on their wellbeing. Caffeine is a stimulant which plays havoc with our blood sugar and production of adrenalin and cortisol, stress hormones. After the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, our adrenal glands are the primary source of oestrogen. The less stress that the adrenal glands are put under, the more oestrogen will be produced to balance the effects of oestrogen loss during the menopause.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
As with caffeine, disruptions to blood sugar can cause stress and actually cause night sweats, mood changes and sleep disturbance independently of the menopause. Cutting down on sugar during the menopause can also help manage weight gain so now is the time to spring clean your diet. We recommend complex carbohydrates, well balanced low sugar snacks and always combining your carbohydrates with healthy fats and proteins.
- Increase phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens as found in chickpeas, lentils and soya have oestrogenic activity that is excellent for balancing hormones during and after the menopause. Phytoestrogens block the alpha receptors in the breasts, ovaries and womb but stimulate the beta receptors in the brain and bone. So at any stage of the menopause they can help protect you from breast, ovary and womb cancers and yet also help keep your brain and bones healthy. We recommend increasing your intake slowly so that you eventually obtain one portion of pulses per day.
In clinic, we love to help patients who are struggling with menopausal symptoms because we know how some small changes can make a big impact, even in a relatively short space of time. Don’t put up with your symptoms, come and talk to us on 01-4020777 or email email@example.com and ask to speak to one of our nutritionists. Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is visiting Dublin, Galway and Cork from the 23rd to the 26th of October with her very popular talk on ‘How to balance your hormones naturally’. Get your tickets here for this informative event and meet our nutritionists on the night.