Nutrition for Menopause
The menopause process can be challenging, and for some it can be lengthy, with an endless list of seemingly baffling symptoms to deal with.
But there's no doubt that our diets and lifestyles can play a huge part in how we experience all stages of menopause, and it's never too late to take control and make some beneficial changes.
Symptoms of menopause
Here are just a few possible symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause...
Weight gain, especially around the hips, buttocks and thighs
Swollen, tender breasts
Headaches and migraines
Pins and needles/numbness/tingling
Skin dryness, sensitivity and outbreaks
What is Menopause and Peri-Menopause?
Menopause can occur any time from age 40-61, but the average is 51 years. Menopause officially starts when a woman hasn’t had any periods for 12 months, but before that happens, women go through a transition stage called pre-, or peri-menopause, which can last for up to ten years. Most women begin to notice a change in their menstrual cycles from around age 35 onwards, with an increase in anovulatory cycles, meaning cycles in which no ovulation takes places. By age 44, many women experience more erratic cycles and a change in duration and intensity of flow. 80% of women begin skipping periods altogether during peri-menopause before they stop completely.
While both progesterone and oestrogen drop during the menopause, as women go through the peri-menopause stage and begin ovulating less frequently, it's common for their progesterone levels to drop more steeply than their oestrogen, putting them in a state of relative oestrogen dominance, even if their oestrogen isn't actually too high. Oestrogen dominance may be responsible for many of the symptoms associated with this peri-menopausal stage, such as irregular and heavy bleeding, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, water retention and hot flushes. The more abruptly this change occurs, the more symptomatic the individual may become. Diet, lifestyle and environmental factors may worsen this condition, by reducing progesterone production, elevating levels of oestrogen and reducing the body's ability to break it down and excrete it effectively.
How can nutritional therapy help?
While many women don't seek help for menopausal symptoms until they are in the thick of things, the truth is the best time to start preparing for menopause is during the reproductive years. Having said that, it's never too late to take control of your health and make beneficial changes. There is much that can be done to help ease the transition into and through the menopause, by paying attention to the way you eat, the way you live, and by identifying any underlying factors that may be creating imbalance within your system, such as chronic stress hormone, thyroid problems, food intolerance, sluggish detoxification, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive issues.
Nutritional therapy helps identify any areas of imbalance in your system, through careful questioning, dietary analysis and possible functional testing. A personalised plan is then put together for you to follow, including changes to your diet and lifestyle, as well as possible supplements, which are tailored to you and designed to restore nutrient levels and re-balance relevant areas of your health, such as adrenal and thyroid health, detoxification and digestion.
How I work
I work from a functional medicine and naturopathic perspective, looking at the body as a whole and appreciating the complex interplay between all bodily systems. I also respect the incredible uniqueness of each individual, both in their biochemistry and their day to day routines and circumstances. This means that any advice or recommendations that I make are done so in a way to be useful, achievable and realistic. The pace must be right for each individual, and step by step is often better for long term success than an all-in, cold turkey approach.
I work in collaboration with my clients, it is a partnership and one that requires a commitment, a willingness to change and a readiness to move forward into health and vitality.