9 naturlige tips for å lindre symptomene og omfavne overgangsalderen
Spør du mine kone om overgangsalderen er svaret kort: "It sucks". Og når jeg spurte det samme spørsmålet på Instagram ble det tydelig at hun ikke er den eneste som føler det slik.
Heldigvis er min kone et eksempel på at det er mulig å leve godt med symptomene og ikke minst omfavne denne overgangen. Jeg ble derfor veldig glad at hun takket ja til å dele sin erfaring her på Superstate.
For de som ikke kjenner henne, så er Kit en forfatter av boken "Ancient Healing in a Modern World: How Secrets from Ancient Cultures Can Rejuvenate your Mind, Body and Soul" og en livsstilscoach for kvinner.
Men hun har ikke alltid vært dette.
Etter mange år på Wall Street møtte hun til slutt veggen, med flere turer til sykehuset. Dette ble starten på en nytt liv på søken etter svar og helbredelse, og har nå viet livet til å finne og dele naturlige praksiser og teknikker fra rundt omkring i verden. Mer om hennes historie kan kan du lese på hennes nettside.
Så med det overlater jeg ordet til min kone:
To best take action to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, let’s first begin with an understanding.
Menopause is not an illness. It’s a natural part of life.
Although there can be challenges with this shift, there are actions we can take to both alleviate the symptoms and to support our body’s changing needs during this time.
For years, I struggled with peri-menopausal and then menopausal symptoms. I found myself stressing daily over the fact that they were now a reality, which only exacerbated them further.
The passage of time, which included peri-menopause at first, and then full menopause after several years, was the very definition to me of aging-in-action. And coming to terms with the aging process wasn’t easy for me.
Embracing this important time in life rather than fighting it helped me immensely. The passage of time can bring some beautiful benefits, such as wisdom, patience, empowerment and self-acceptance.
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As I embraced the positive aspects of “aging,” the stress was alleviated and my symptoms became less severe. With that small step under my belt, I then researched what other natural remedies I could add to support my wellbeing during this important time.
Below are a list of 9 things I incorporated into my life to help with menopausal symptoms and to support overall health.
Before diving in, I would like to emphasize that consistency is the key that unlocks success in alleviating menopausal symptoms.
Yes, any of the 9 actions can help to some degree, but undoubtedly they are most effective when combined in a consistent and intentional plan.
1. Make time for Regular Exercise
Although I knew that this was important at any stage in life, it became even more important during the time when menopause became a reality.
In all honesty, I’ll admit that exercise isn’t on the top of my list when it comes to things I absolutely enjoy doing in a day. If an exercise program becomes too complicated or lengthy, I will try to come up with excuses not to even start.
For me to achieve consistency, I need to like the particular exercise or movement program to some degree and that will keep me doing it.
In the beginning, I started with simple weight-bearing exercises such as walking for 30 minutes 3 per times per week. I definitely felt better after the walk and enjoyed watching the scenery during my walk. The big bonus was that after about 2 weeks I felt less anxious and stressed. My sleep was better and I had more energy. After awhile, I began to look forward to my walks and worked my way up to 6 times per week.
To make the walk even more effective, I like to add hand-held or wrist weights and I do a series of upper body movements while walking. This increases the overall caloric burn and really helped me with weight management.
The beauty of walking is that it can be added without special equipment. If you don’t have hand/wrist weights, you can hold a water bottle in each hand, and remember to drink equally from both so the weight remains the same.
The most important part is to simply get started!
2. Maintain Muscle Mass
Menopause (along with aging in general) can cause a substantial decrease in muscle size.
During some of the most difficult times of my menopausal journey, I noticed that I was looking less healthy and my muscles were seriously shrinking.
So what did I do?
I launched into more exercise - specifically spinning and running- thinking that more exercise would build the muscles back. Unfortunately, I kept getting thinner, although the stubborn pockets of fat were not going away.
The term is “Skinny Fat” and it definitely wasn’t a good thing.
After researching how to stop losing muscle, I discovered that aerobic exercise, over extended periods of time (running or spinning), can eat away at muscle.
Needless to say, I stopped that immediately.
I also learned that short bursts of intense activity for a decidedly short amount of time overall would help to preserve muscle.
This type of exercise is called HIIT which stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and has definitely been much more effective in maintaining muscle.
I have created a Walking/Calisthenics/HIIT workout that I use that is fun (for me) and lasts only 18 minutes. The workout itself is 12 minutes, with 3 sets of 4-minute HIIT training and a warm-up and warm-down of 3 minutes each.
There have been times when traveling that I didn’t have proper hand or wrist weights, but I managed to find rocks and used those. (If there’s a Will, there’s a Way!)
I use an app called Tabata that counts down the segments of High-Intensity activity as well as the rest period and dings when each is about to start and finish. I have mine set at 20 seconds of full-out activity and 10 seconds of rest.
Depending on your preference, you can set it at whatever segment ratios work for you. 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest is a popular setting as well.
The important thing is consistency! If you like it, you’ll continue with it, so make it work for you in a way that creates consistency.
3. Eat More Protein
You might be thinking, “what does protein intake have to do with alleviating menopause symptoms?”
Well, as I talked about in #2, a symptom of menopause that I experienced was muscle loss. In extreme cases, this is called Sarcopenia.
Muscle burns fat. So along with the loss of muscle, fat is more readily stored, which creates a “menopause belly” along with other areas of fat storage. For me, this entire process created stress, which in turn exacerbated the symptoms.
Again, a vicious cycle.
I needed to figure this out, and fast.
The trail of research led me to the importance of adding protein to every meal and snack. I’m not a big meat eater, but I knew I needed to find a way.
So here’s what it looks like for me:
Starting my day, I mix collagen protein into my coffee. I typically have 2 cups of coffee in the morning and maybe another in the early afternoon, all with collagen protein.
Here’s a tip: Keeping some collagen protein in your purse is a simple way to add it to any beverage when you’re out and about - even in your water.
I add an egg to just about any salad, and a teaspoon of natural, unsweetened peanut butter to an apple or other fruit snack.
One of my favorite go-to protein snacks is natural unsweetened yogurt, usually Greek or Goat yogurt mixed with protein powder. I throw in some sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with a few berries and it becomes a tasty protein bomb.
Adding protein to every meal and snack not only helps with protein needs, but also helps to keep me feeling full and satisfied, which leads to less “bad” snacking and helps keep me weight-optimized. Definitely a win!
4. Avoid “Trigger” Foods
Each of us is different, and henceforth the foods that trigger the onset of symptoms can be different. That said, common trigger foods include caffeine, alcohol, and foods with high sugar or spice content.
Unfortunately for me, these are the kind of foods I used to eat all the time. Make no mistake, I still like my occasional foray off the path, but now I am more on top of when and why I might be eating them.
My triggers really wreaked havoc when I ate them later at night.
Keeping a symptom diary helped me to narrow down my menopause symptom-trigger foods. For 3 weeks, I listed what I ate and when I ate them, and noted my symptoms and the severity or lack of severity throughout the day.
I discovered that drinking alcohol or coffee too close to bedtime triggered hot flashes and disrupted my sleep. And because disrupted sleep only added to my mood swings and low energy levels, late-night drinking has become a thing of the past. Although it isn’t as “fun,” limiting late-night drinking has immensely helped my sleep and symptoms.
As I mentioned, each of us is different, so journaling is very important to have a more accurate picture of what triggers symptoms. With some simple adjustments brought to light when journaling, I was able to find my rhythm.
No doubt the same light will be shed on your trigger foods as well with a little attention to journaling.
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5. Get Enough Vitamin D
Although not as obvious as hot flashes, mood swings or low energy, weakened bones are one of the symptoms of menopause and post-menopause.
Moreover, weak bones are associated with hip fractures in the case of a fall.
Getting adequate Vitamin D is therefore a crucial part of my natural menopause treatment.
Vitamin D has many important jobs in your body. It keeps your bones strong by helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, key minerals for bone health. On top of bone health, your muscles use it to move, and nerves need it to carry messages throughout your body.
So there are many reasons to make certain you are getting enough Vitamin D in your system on a daily basis.
Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D, since your skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as we age, our skin becomes less efficient at making it.
If sun isn’t readily available or if you use sunscreen daily like I do, either taking a supplement or increasing food sources of vitamin D is a way of getting it.
I take a vitamin D3 supplement with Vitamin K2 in it. Vitamin K2 assists with the absorption of Vitamin D into the bones.
Weight-bearing exercise (such as walking with hand or wrist weights mentioned earlier), also helps to strengthen bones, and is a simple and effective addition to my overall program.
I believe that knowing more about where you are in your wellness journey is important. I regularly do a bone density test called a DEXA. Results will let you know how your bones are doing. Your medical provider can offer additional suggestions based on test results.
6. Drink Enough Water
I can’t stress enough the importance water!
During menopause, estrogen levels typically decrease significantly and dryness can become pronounced. It especially shows in our skin.
When I’m tired or stressed, especially now in menopause, my skin looks duller and dryer. Drinking water helps to hydrate it within 15 minutes.
I was also bloating a lot during the worst phases of my menopause. Drinking about 2 liters of water per day, helped me to reduce the bloating I was getting.
Also, the water makes me feel full, which helps me to eat less, hence supporting my weight goals. Taking it one step further, I found that if I drink about 500ml of water 30 minutes before a meal, I eat less!
To help me remember to drink, I keep a bottle of water with me at all times, including in the car and while doing errands. Day-to-day activities often have a way of taking longer than anticipated, so having water readily available keeps the mega-important consistency going.
I don’t find plain water especially tasty or interesting, which prevents me from drinking as much as I should.
That said, there is a solution that makes my water taste good, with no sugar, and adds electrolytes to the water making it “more than just water.”
7. Reduce or Eliminate Refined Sugar and Processed Foods
I’ll admit that I was the biggest fan of “comfort food.” This included food and snacks that were not only sugary but also carb-heavy.
This was especially true when I was feeling bad from menopausal symptoms. Pizza, pancakes (with syrup of course), pastries, warm bread, and pasta of all kinds were an integral part of my daily food intake.
Looking back, I still can’t believe what I was eating.
My former diet was completely high in refined carbs and sugar which caused sharp rises and dips in my blood sugar. These dips made me feel tired and irritable, and being tired and irritable only worsened the physical and mental symptoms of menopause that I was feeling. So what did I do? I ate more comfort foods to feel “better”. It was a vicious cycle.
To add more to the already challenging situation, the carbs and sugar weren’t helping me to keep a healthy weight and counteracted the exercise I was doing. And seeing few results made me mildly depressed.
Depression is another possible symptom brought on by menopause. Eating “comfort foods” might help in the moment, but the long-term effect can do more harm than good. Giving them up was no easy task.
My mood took a fall when I stopped eating bread, pasta, and sugary foods. What I needed was to find a substitute - and fast!
But what could that be? I wanted a tasty and satisfying treat that worked for me instead of against me in my search for remedies.
Enter chocolate. Almost everyone loves chocolate, especially me! But not just any chocolate is healthy. Chocolate with lower cacao content is typically full of sugar, calories and carbs.
I added dark chocolate (80%-85% cacao) to my daily program, and it has helped my mood immensely.
But why is that?
Chocolate not only tastes wonderful, but also has Tryptophan, which is used by the brain to make serotonin, which can produce feelings of happiness. Chocolate also has an added bonus of flavonoids which have been shown to support overall well-being. All in all, I found this to be a winning combination that feels like “cheat food” but is far from it.
Dark chocolate also has much less sugar so I don’t experience blood sugar spikes.
My favorite chocolate treat is a little natural, unsweetened peanut butter between 2 squares of dark chocolate. It makes a tasty snack with the benefit of added protein. I like to slightly warm the peanut butter, it really adds to the overall experience, and feels a bit decadent. Why not give it a try!
8. Take Natural Supplements
I am a firm believer in supplementation and have found that certain supplements have successfully helped to reduce my menopause symptoms.
Once again, each of us is different, so trying out different supplements and combinations of those will help to establish solutions that work uniquely for you.
Below are the 2 supplements that have helped me reduce my symptoms of menopause and 1 that I’m about to try based on my research.
I talked about this topic earlier, and in my experience, it is an easy and effective way to ease menopausal symptoms. Once again, you can find it in food, exposure to sunlight, or through supplementation.
Because consistency is so important, I find that supplementation is the most convenient. That said, if there is sun, get out for 20 minutes in the morning before 10:00 or in the afternoon after 16:00. Exposure to the back of the knees/legs helps to prevent drying out delicate facial and neck skin.
I absolutely love the natural wisdom of ancient cultures, which fueled the research for my book.
For more than 700 years, women in Southeast Asia (specifically Thailand) have used the root of the Pueraria mirifica plant to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and restore their youthful vitality.
The Western world hasn’t entirely embraced the wisdom of ancient cultures, especially with regard to women’s health.
One exception is Dr. Christiane Northrup, the founder of Amata Life. Dr. Northrup is a board-certified OB/GYN physician whom I have followed for decades.
Her holistic approach to women’s health is wise and prolific, and I have found great success with her products and teachings, especially regarding menopause and women’s health.
I have had incredible results with Dr. Northrup’s supplement. It helps to alleviate almost all of my symptoms. It has been a game-changer, for which I am very grateful.
At first, I was expecting a quick fix with the herb. After all, it’s a phytoestrogen, which is a natural hormonal balancer, and I was impatient. But it took about 60 days before I noticed anything slightly happening. I almost gave up and shelved the bottle.
But thankfully I didn’t. It was into the 3rd month when I felt a huge difference. At last, I found a natural pill specifically designed to help women through menopause. Consistency really helped me here.
Our individual needs vary, so timing with this will be individual as well. I definitely recommend this supplement as something to add to your stack.
For more tips on menopause, check out Dr. Northrup’s website.
During my travels to India and Sri Lanka, I learned about many interesting Ayurvedic remedies, including those for the symptoms of menopause. Along with stress, fatigue, mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain, lack of libido can be yet another symptom in the basket.
Shatavari is the most popular Ayurvedic herb used for the menopausal transition and is most famous for its libido-enhancing effects. In fact, the word Shatavari in Sanskrit translates to be “she who has 100 husbands”. So if you are looking for a herb with aphrodisiac effects this may be the one for you.
Ayurvedic medicine is possibly the oldest treatment system in the world, originating in India. The first recorded use of Shatavari dates back to 1500 BC in the Rig Veda. The fact that it still remains today speaks volumes as to its efficacy.
Because of this, I’ll be adding it to my stack and maintaining consistency with it. (and I’m sure my husband won’t object). I’ll report back on my results.
Below is the research on Shatavari, and you might wish to try it yourself to see how it works for you.
Shatavari is a wild variety of asparagus, and the active ingredient is found in the roots.
Phytoestrogens are just one example of properties found in Shatavari.
Phytoestrogens have a hormone-balancing effect. They are good in peri-menopause when the ratio of hormones can be towards higher estrogen levels and also for post-menopause with lower estrogen levels.
This hormone-balancing effect is just one of the reasons why it can help reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
Its adaptogenic effect is another reason. Adaptogenic herbs help you adapt to your environment in other words, they improve your stress response.
9. Detach from Habitual Stress
When I am stressed, I’m more likely to be fatigued and moody and definitely not my Best and Highest Self.
As I write about in my book, stress caused severe medical issues for which I was hospitalized twice, and subsequently led me to a completely different path in my life.
Some creative stress can be a motivating factor such as when we’re pushing to accomplish goals on a deadline. But on the extreme, there are some “stress junkies” who live from one stressful situation to another as if stress is a normal part of life.
Habitual stress can overwork adrenal glands, undermine our immune systems, and severely reduce our ability to effectively alleviate the symptoms of menopause. The “Fight or Flight” condition is meant to help us survive, but not to thrive. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a truly life-threatening situation and day-to-day stressors that cause the same state.
Detaching from stress is typically easier said than done, and it can take time. Start with things you know have worked for you and then add from there.
My personal go-tos are: exercise, listening to music that I love, dancing (usually while listening to music I love), breathwork, playing with our dog, meditation and simply being in gratitude. When I feel gratitude for the things that I have in my life, it destresses me almost immediately.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself and with your body. Accepting that menopause and the changes it brings are part of life is natural is a good place to start. Believe me, it took a while for me to accept the changes and it’s still a daily practice.
The Chinese call menopause “The Second Spring.” Shifting the focus to the wonderful possibilities for the new journey ahead is the first step to successfully reducing the stress around it.
I hope that these 9 suggestions help you to further discover solutions for menopausal relief and enhancement of this special time of life.
To Your Best and Highest,
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