The Fog, Sweat & Tears Of Menopause & How Diet Can Help
The Fog, Sweat & Tears Of Menopause
Have you noticed that there’s a class for everything these days. And I really mean everything… you can book in for a goat yoga class or learn how to make a bike frame out of bamboo. Google it!
There is education for sex and contraception, pregnancy, hypno-birthing, breast-feeding… I can go on… But when it comes to menopause, there’s next to nothing available!
It feels like every other hormonal transition in life is covered educationally and a support system is put in place. But menopause is woefully under-served, leaving menopausal women to deal with their problems alone.
This baffles me as, at the point in a women’s life when menopause hits, she’s most likely juggling a demanding career, looking after her family, running a busy home, or all three at once.
Yet most women (ask your mother) suffer in silence and don’t make a fuss.
There's some dissent in the ranks. A recent government study[MB1] relating to women’s health concluded that 84% of women felt they were not listened to by healthcare professionals. And, most interestingly, a need was outlined for more menopause education.
So, to start with, here’s a little bit about what’s actually going on in the body during menopause.
During peri-menopause your body changes. As oestrogen levels fall, your periods may become irregular and/or heavy. You may notice that your blood pressure rises and changes in cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. There may also be a loss in calcium from the bones which in turn raises the risk of osteoporosis.
Other symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats and poor concentration. All these symptoms are mainly due to falling oestrogen.
The good news is by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can help mitigate some of those symptoms.
Plant oestrogens (also called phytoestrogens) are very similar to human oestrogen and, if eaten regularly and in sufficient quantities, can start to have mild oestrogenic effects, which is useful as oestrogen levels decline. Here’s some more diet tips to help fight off some of the symptoms of menopause.
Ever found yourself spaced out or unable to think straight? Water and sugar may be the key factors responsible for giving you this feeling of brain fog. Managing hydration and blood sugar levels are some simple but effective ways to reduce brain fog and improve cognition, especially in the afternoon. Improvement for your brain health is complex, but increasing consumption of oily fish, blueberries, almonds or avocado can sharpen the brain. Key for those long working days.
Avoiding spicy foods is a common recommendation for women going through menopause. However, evidence to support this is limited. Both caffeine and alcohol do seem to increase the symptoms of hot flushes, though.
Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as avocado and fatty fish may benefit women going through menopause. A review of 483 menopausal women concluded that omega-3 supplements decreased the frequency and severity of night sweats.
Approaching middle age often brings increased stress, anxiety, and fear. This can partially be attributed to decreasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone. For some women, menopause can be a time of isolation or frustration. Family and friends may not always understand what you’re going through, or give you the support you need. It’s really important to communicate these feelings to your GP or healthcare professional.
You may find that being more physically active helps with some of your menopause symptoms, reduce your hot flushes, help you manage your weight gain, lift your mood, help you sleep and reduce anxiety.