Reduce the effects of menopause with some minor lifestyle changes
What are the key stages of menopause and when can most women expect to experience these?
There are three stages to this cycle: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause; but the experience can be wildly different for individuals. Some begin to experience one or even several symptoms associated with this challenging time of life anytime from the age of 35, while others are largely asymptomatic throughout their 40s or even longer. The more unfortunate can even suffer from their early 30s whilst others will only start as they hit their 50s. The fact that you may experience one of many symptoms at any age does not automatically indicate that you are beginning to go through any stage of the menopause, however, as there is a dramatic fluctuation between one woman and the next.
What are the most common symptoms of menopause?
There are over 30 commonly known symptoms and these can randomly occur at differing times during the whole process. Some of these are less obvious candidates than you might imagine. For instance, perimenopausal women can start suffering new or increased allergic reactions due to a myriad of suspects, whether they be airborne, pet-centric or food intolerances. It is also important to understand that whilst many women suffer tremendously during this perimenopausal phase, others get away with it completely. The first sign of the menopause in all its stages can be a slight change in the menstrual cycle, which is often accompanied by a decrease in libido, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, night sweats and hot flushes. Some women’s first indicator can be joint stiffness or general aches and pains, including increased incidences of headaches.
How can these symptoms hinder women emotionally and physically?
A major symptom suffered by all women during menopause is sleep difficulties and disturbances, which also plays a significant role in stress-related issues. Even though it is common for sufferers to be so exhausted they can nod off instantly, maintaining levels of restful and restorative sleep is another matter entirely. The more tired you become, the more likely anxiety and stress levels will increase. This of course also affects concentration and memory functions, which can in turn contribute to deeper psychological problems. In fact, overwhelming feelings of fatigue are among the most frequent and severe symptoms of all stages of the menopause.
What natural ingredients should women be aware of that can help to alleviate the symptoms of menopause?
It is important to note that some body changes related to the menopause cycle can cause longer-term health problems such as high cholesterol levels, bone density loss, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. For these reasons, it is important to maintain a good intake of water, which will help maintain skin moisture and, to a degree, offset vaginal dryness. It is also important to increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as milk, yoghurt and calcium supplements. Regular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is also important to help minimize weight gain whilst simultaneously getting important nutrients into your system. It is equally important to maintain a regular intake of Vitamin B. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and B3 (Niacin) together contribute to normal psychological function, normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B6 also contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.
Are there any products or ingredients menopausal women should avoid?
Iron supplements should be avoided as your need for the mineral drops during your menopausal stage of life and the fact is, you can get all you need be making sure you eat lean beef, eggs, cereals and grains. Sugar should be cut down, or even out altogether, along with alcohol, caffeine and some spicy foods, all of which can contribute to suffering hot flushes, mood swings and even urinary incontinence.
Why does menopause cause me to have sleep disturbances and anxiety?
As your ovaries produce less oestrogen and progesterone, all menopause symptoms increase and one of the most debilitating is sleep disorder. Some refer to this simply as insomnia, however in reality it is a disorder that causes repeated sleep disturbance and other problems. It is more complicated than just insomnia, because once you have managed to fall asleep (not difficult in most instances as sufferers are usually totally exhausted), staying asleep is another matter entirely! This collective sleep deprivation can take a serious toll on your psychological wellbeing. It causes growing levels of anxiety and stress and once these take a firm hold, are very difficult to shift, in some cases even leading to depression, loss of concentration, forgetfulness and irritability.
What is serotonin and what can I do to boost it?
Serotonin is acknowledged to be a natural mood stabiliser, as well as helping with sleeping, eating and digestion. It is a derivative of the essential amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid also enters the body through diet and is commonly found in foods such as beef, chicken, some dairy products and other high-protein foods. Pumpkin seed is a natural source of tryptophan. Tryptophan deficiency can lead to lower serotonin levels. This can result in mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression, which form part of the sleep-related problems suffered by most women at this time of life. Generally, foods alone are not sufficiently high in tryptophan to give required levels of serotonin to address sleep-related issues, which is why pumpkin seeds that have the oil pressed out of them to leave a far more effective flour residue.
When taken at night, the natural-source tryptophan in pumpkin seed flour turns into serotonin, which then metabolises into melatonin, a hormone that activates the brain’s sleep mechanisms. Conversley, when taken during the day (as long as you have natural daylight), natural-source tryptophan becomes serotonin, which regulates mood, emotion, and appetite, and is well known to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression.
What causes hot flushes and how can I manage them?
Whilst it is not entirely clear what causes women to suffer hot flushes, there is irrefutable evidence that they are a consequence of hormonal changes in the body. Some of the body-changes that occur during the stages of the menopause can also exacerbate the incidence of hot flushes, including weight gain and anxiety. The overall impact of them is very significant for over 75 percent of women although some are lucky enough not to be greatly troubled by them. The sad fact is that if you suffer hot flushes, there isn’t a great deal to be done to reduce the problem. However, it is possible to avoid triggers that can cause them or even make them worse. For instance, avoiding excessive intake of alchohol, caffeine, spicy foods, smoking (including passive smoking) can help enormously. Also it is even worth wearing a couple of layers of clothing so that one or more can be quickly removed at the onset of a hot flush. Cotton-only bedding and bedclothes, while expensive, can also be helpful.
Natures Naturals are a UK manufacturer of natural health products, intended to help improve quality of life for those suffering various types of pain, issues with menopause, topical applications for dry skin conditions, meeting the challenges of allergies, asthma and respiratory problems, plus practitioner-strength specialist nutrition. Visit their website for more details: www.naturesnaturals.co.uk