October is World Menopause Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness around this crucial stage of a woman’s life, that unfortunately tends to carry stigma and is plagued with misinformation.
At Oxygen Boutique, we consistently strive to stock products that are natural, improve the health and wellbeing of all of our customers and empower women through feeling great in the skin they’re in. That’s why when we came across MPowder, a unique range of natural, high protein, vegan powders designed to nourish the body during menopause, allowing women to live to their best potential, we had to get involved.
MPowder kindly provided us with some facts and information regarding all stages of menopause so that we help combat confusion around the topic and better manage menopause through our diet and lifestyle.
So, first things first: what is menopause?
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether.
What are the stages?
There are 3 stages of menopause – peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause. Peri-menopause typically starts around age 43 and can last for 8 or 9 years
What are the symptoms?
There are arguably 40 symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause – the most common are: irregular periods, heavier periods, hot flushes, night sweats, visible changes to skin, hair and nails, mood swings, low energy, sleep disturbances, brain fog and weight gain.Hot flushes and night sweats affect up to 85% of menopausal women and can vary in both intensity and frequency.
How can we manage each stage of menopause?
There is a lot we can do to help manage menopause symptoms with our diet and lifestyle.
- Blood sugar levels are affected by fluctuations in progesterone and oestrogen. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates, such as brown/wild rice, lentils, amaranth, quinoa, oats, wholemeal sourdough bread) and avoid any refined carbohydrates and sugar (such as white pasta, white rice, white bread, pastries, sugary cereals and biscuits). Eating protein with every meal, as well as fibre, is crucial for stabilising blood sugar.
- Supplement wise ashwagandha, magnesium, and B vitamins, are great for supporting adrenal function and cortisol balance.
- Your liver is responsible for hormone metabolism, so needs careful support. Eat a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale), Brazil nuts, artichokes, garlic and fibre rich foods (oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, green leafy veg, almonds and grains).
- Avoid hot and spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and smoking as they can cause hot flashes. There may be other triggers, so be vigilant and identify yours.
- Keep hydrated and particularly in the summer drink “cooling herbal waters” (add cucumber and mint to mineral water and drink throughout the day).
- Sleep is often affected so for sleep consider taking passionflower, lemon balm or hops. They work mainly by increasing GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) activity, a brain chemical that has a key role in promoting sleep and relaxation.
- Our digestive system can be affected by the natural decline in stomach acid production, caused by a decline in hormones. Prioritise anti-inflammatory foods (such as wild oily fish, nuts and seeds), wholegrains, antioxidant-rich foods (such as berries, green tea and cocoa), and a variety of fresh vegetables.
- Adding fresh ginger, fennel seeds and lemon to your diet are also great ways to promote gut health. A hot water with lemon in the morning is an easy addition.
- In terms of supplementation you could consider slippery elm and turmeric as they reduce gut inflammation. As with digestive issues at any life stage it’s best if you can consult a nutritionist or naturopath to take a comprehensive case history and give personalised guidance.
- The decline in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone significantly can have a direct impact on the brain. Those changes can impact on cognitive dysfunction, for example difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness. To help counteract this eat more “good fats”, including wild oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and anchovies (this is the form best absorbed by the body). Plant-based foods are chia seeds, flaxseeds, avocado, nuts, such as almonds and Brazil nuts, and extra virgin olive oil.
- For an extra boost take a good quality omega-3 supplement. The best absorbable sources are oily fish or algae.
- The decrease in sex hormones, particularly oestrogen and testosterone, is well known to impact on your bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. The most important nutrients for healthy bones are calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, Vitamin C and magnesium. Calcium is the building block for bones, vitamin D supports effective calcium absorption and vitamin K works with vitamin D to ensure that calcium is deposited in the bones. Calcium rich foods include dairy products (particularly kefir, which has the added advantage of being a probiotic), green vegetables) such as broccoli, kale, and collard greens), sardines with bone, and soybeans.
- Vitamin D supplementation (choose vitamin D3) is strongly recommended to post-menopausal women particularly in the UK, as lack of sun exposure can lead to deficiency.
There are also many lifestyle things you can try to help manage symptoms as well, such as meditation, breathing techniques (such as Box Breathing), yoga, time in nature, practicing self-care and good sleep hygiene.
We hope these above information and tips can better your understanding and better your wellbeing so you can continue to be the superwomen you are. And if you have any other questions, send them through to us on our Instagram @oxygenboutique and we will be sure to get right back to you.
In good health,
Note: When considering herbal remedies, make sure you talk to a doctor before incorporating into your diet, particularly if you’re about to have surgery, have an existing health condition, or are on blood thinners.