Infertility · lifestyle · menopause · nutrition

Menopause and Nutrition – Collaboration post.

Hey Guys!

I hope your Monday hasn’t treated you too badly.. at least it is over now..one step closer to the weekend!! 

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A few weeks ago i approached PCOS and Nutrition who is a fab blogger, she works on ways to help people with fertility issues work through symptoms by looking at… yep, you guessed it.. Nutrition.

I have always wanted to do a post on Nutrition and menopause, but I am no expert and would hate to give you advice that wasn’t correct, so when I spoke to PCOS and Nutrition it totally made sense to do a post together on the subject but from different perspectives!

So, as you guys who read my blog regularly will know, I started the menopause at 15, at the time my symptoms weren’t associated with the menopause, why would they be?

At 15 it’s not the first thing to pop in to your head when you are having sleepless nights, mood swings and behaving (a little bit) irrationally, my parents thought I was being ‘ a moody teenager’ and I hadn’t really thought about it, by the time I was finally diagnosed I was over the worst of it, sleepless nights and extreme temperature change is something I have always had and early on I did put it down to menopause, although it could just be the way I am.

For a long time, nutrition didn’t come in to my mind when it came to ways of treating or alleviating anything that was a side effect of the menopause, but later, when it was discovered my bones were suffering, it made me think about it more.

Not only this, but I struggle on HRT, my body reacts badly to all the hormones I have ever taken, I am sick, dizzy, confused, tired, in short, its no good for me and I don’t take them. (I am aware people have differing views on this but I do what is best for me)

So both these things made me think about what I was putting in to my body, I spoke to a doctor who went through some things that could help, I have stuck with what they suggested over the years, I am not saying they work, or that I think everyone should do the same, but here is what she suggested.

  • Reduce consumption of fizzy drinks as much a possible. ( She claimed that whatever makes them fizzy can have a negative impact on your bones, I’m guessing this might be sugar?)

  • On the same note, reduce sugar intake.

  • Consume calcium as much a possible, yogurt, milk, cream, cheese. Although I am very health conscious and steer away from the last two as much as possible.

  • Reduce foods that contain high levels of fat and that are processed, I guess again this is to do with sugar and salt, I think it is also to ensure there isn’t excess pressure on your bones, if you eat this kind of food you are likely to put on weight!

  • Foods like cereal, oats etc in are helpful to be consumed.

This advice was a while ago now and I am trying to get referred to a nutritionist but like I say, over the years I have stuck to what she said as much as possible, my bones aren’t great but you never know, they could be a lot worse by now if I hadn’t done these things, as I have mentioned before, I have a weird relationship with food but I do try to make sure what I consume is in keeping with what has been advised and that I do what I can for my bones and my post menopause body!

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So, that is the extent of my knowledge in this area, once i had spoken to PCOS and Nutrition my eyes were opened to a whole new world of ways in which Nutrition can play a part in helping with symptoms and effects of menopause.

She really has done her research and has compiled a fab post all in itself about this topic… 

So here she goes… 

Nutrition Tips for Menopause

 

Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life that is often dreaded. If you’re lucky this stage of a woman’s life can be easy and can end quickly, however, for others it is miserable.

 

What is Menopause

 

Menopause is the when a woman stops having a period and is unable to get pregnant naturally. Once a woman reaches menopause the symptoms they experience and the extent of them can vary from woman to woman.

Before your period stops completely, your estrogen levels begin to drop and once your estrogen has reached a certain point and you have not seen a period for a year, it is believed you have reached that menopause stage. 

On average, women begin menopause around the age of 45-55. However, there are some women who begin menopause earlier, from the age of 30 or 40. While other women may reach menopause at the age of 60. Furthermore, the length of this stage also varies. The average length of menopause is 4 years, while for others it may only last a few months.

 

Symptoms

 

As I mentioned previously the symptoms and the extent of them can vary between women.

Symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes

  • Night Sweats

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Low Mood or anxiety

  • Trouble concentrating and with memory

  • Reduced sex drive (libido)

  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex

  • Joint and muscle stiffness

  • Urinary problems

  • Headaches

 

Health Risks and Menopause 

In the long-term, there are a few health risk associated with low estrogen levels and menopause. Health risks include

  • Osteoporosis

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Breast Cancer

  • Gum Disease

  • Diabetes

  • Sarcopenia

 

How to Deal with Menopause 

Today, more and more women are seeking alternative treatments and approaches to dealing with their menopause symptoms rather than taking hormone therapy. There are instead, nutrition and lifestyle changes that you can adopt which can help manage menopause, its symptoms and the health risk associated with depleted levels of estrogen.

Nutrition 

Diet and nutrition are fundamental to managing the changes in hormones. 

Hot flashes are the most common symptoms of menopause, and it is believed to be caused as a result of the decrease in estrogen which leads to changes and imbalances in the central thermoregulatory system.

Consult your doctor before you change or include any of these supplements into your diet.

Protein 

A health risk associated with menopause is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is defined as the age-related loss of lean body mass. Women going through menopause have an increased risk of suffering from sarcopenia due to the decline in hormones that support protein synthesis and allow an increase in inflammation and oxidation which are catabolic in the body. (Maltais and Dionne 2009).

It is suggested that menopausal women consume an adequate amount of protein and live an active lifestyle to help prevent or reduce the risk of sarcopenia.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein for women is .8 gram (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight. However, it is suggested that menopausal women may need to consume more than the recommended daily allowance, approximately 1.2 g protein per kg of body weight to help support and maintain lean muscle mass (Mahan and Escott-Stump 2008). Furthermore, the source of dietary protein may come from plant or animal. 

Vitamin E 

A study in the Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, in which women on menopause supplemented with Vitamin E, showed statistically significant differences in hot flashes severity and their daily frequency.

Magnesium 

Magnesium is involved in the manufacture of steroid hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. It has been shown to reduce hot flashes by 50%.

Calcium and Vitamin D

 A recent study in the American Society for Nutrition found that women who consume a high intake of dietary vitamin D (approx 528 IU/d) had a significant 17% lower risk of early menopause than women who consumed the lowest intake [approx 148 IU/d).

 Also the study found that the women in the group which consumed the highest intake of dietary calcium (1246 mg/d), compared with the lowest intake (556 mg/d) was associated with a borderline significantly lower risk of early menopause. 

Furthermore, however, the study found that the relationship was stronger when the vitamin D and calcium came from dairy sources than from nondairy dietary sources, whereas high supplement use was not associated with lower risk. Therefore suggesting there is still no strong link, in that it can reduce the risk of early menopause.

 Both vitamin D and calcium are two supplements that should be taken as they help to strengthen bones. Furthermore, Vitamin D should be taken with calcium as it improves calcium absorption.

Our bodies get vitamin D from sunlight, however, many people in some countries do not get enough sun exposure. You can get vitamin D from foods such as; oily fish, eggs, red meat. However, as it is only found in a small number of foods, it can be difficult to get enough from foods alone. It is therefore recommended that everyone takes a daily supplement containing 10 μg of vitamin D during this period.

Phytoestrogens

 Phytoestrogens are naturally-occurring nutrient found in plants that exert an estrogen-like action on the body. The main two types of phytoestrogens are lignans and isoflavones. Isoflavones are often termed phytoestrogens because they bind to an oestrogen receptor, in turn having an estrogen like effect in the body, however, the effect is fairly weak.

 There is research suggesting that phytoestrogens can help with menopausal symptoms. A study found that phytoestrogens resulted in a significantly greater reduction in hot flush frequency. It is believed that the estrogen-like compounds found in phytoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors, in turn helping to alleviate hot flashes.

 

  • Dietary sources of lignans include cereals, flax seeds, linseeds, legumes and fruit and vegetables.

  • Dietary sources of isoflavones include soyabeans, clover, alfalfa, legumes, lentils and chickpeas.

 

Herbal Supplementation

 Sage

Sage has been known and been used for many years as a way to deal with symptoms of menopause, however, there was no research to prove its efficacy. The study in Advances in Therapy concluded that fresh sage preparation is an effective treatment for hot flashes and associated menopausal symptoms. 

Physical Activity 

Along with a healthy diet, menopausal women should be physically active. Some women who have reached menopause often put on weight as a result of hormone changes and changes in lifestyle. Being physically active during menopause can help with symptoms, including; weight gain, anxiety,  depression, hot flashes and sleep disturbances. Furthermore, having a more active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as promoting strong bones.

 

Reference

Mahan, K., Escott-Stump, S. 2008. Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier

Despina Pavlou is the founder of PCOS and Nutrition and a certified personal trainer. She takes a holistic and evidence approach to both nutrition and training. She believes both diet and lifestyle modifications are an effective approach to managing PCOS and its symptoms. If you would like to learn more about how nutrition and exercise can help PCOS, please visit her website pcosandnutrition.com

At PCOS and Nutrition, you will find PCOS diet, lifestyle, supplement and treatment tips, as well as recipes. PCOS and Nutrition is also full of general health and wellness blog posts.

I hope you found this helpful and insightful, i am so glad to have finally done this post and that it is out there for you all to get some information! 

If you need any more info contact me or PCOS and Nutrition, we would both be glad to help! 

Until next time,

bye bye

 

 

 

 

 

 

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