Ageing…and all that jazz!
As we age, our hormones change – and so does our bodies. Many women suffer from premenopausal and/or menopause. However, there are also other women that never had any drastic changes. In today’s article I am going to look at what it is and what you can do, naturally, to help you if you do suffer from it.
Premenopausal: can affect women between the ages of 45 to 51 years of age. Symptoms like hot flushes and/or night sweats can start, because the ovaries produce fewer and weaker follicles. This carrier on until ovulation and menstruation stop altogether. Some women can still have intermittent spotting or bleeding, while others have no periods anymore.
What to do?
Taking soy isoflavones can help a lot, as they have a natural, oestrogen-like action in the body to boost the hormones. Studies have found that isoflavones reduce hot flushes by 39% compared to a placebo (using unnatural medication). It is also interesting to note that Asian women, that follow an Asian diet, rarely (almost never) complain about symptoms. Less than 25% Asian women, compared to 85% of Western women, have menopausal symptoms. The reason? Soya plays a huge part in their diet, and processed, refined foods rarely, if ever, features. Another key to not having menopausal symptoms in Asia, is that they eat a lot of fish. Omega oil is key when it comes to “pick you up” when you’re feeling low. It is food for your brain; thus, it plays a vital role in your mood swings. CBD oil (the natural one) can ease anxiety and stress. Ubiquinol (a form of Coenzyme Q10), is important when the body’s cells need to process the oxygen-intake and generate energy.
Menopause: usually occurs between the ages of 51 and 55. Menopause happens when your ovaries have run out of the right number of follicles to maintain your monthly cycle. Due to the lack of oestrogen, the joints can be affected, especially hips, knees, hands and fingers. Muscles, ligaments and tendons can also become more easily stiff and/or ache.
What to do?
Using herbs like black cohosh, sage and red clover can help. Always check with a qualified practitioner before using the herbs, as some herbs can interfere if you are on prescribed medication. Good quality supplements, made from a reliable, trusted brand, can be added to your diet. A trusted brand is Solgar as well as Solal, but there are others as well.
When your joints ache and/or are stiff, make sure to lubricate it by adding Omega oil to your diet. Keeping hydrated is vital, as well as doing some form of exercise. Unless you have no injuries and/or are used to exercising, be careful doing high-impact exercises.
Restless legs can occur and is triggered by insufficient magnesium, which in turn reduce your chance of absorbing calcium. Make sure to take a supplement that combines calcium and magnesium and take it in the evening. Check that there is added vitamin D (or take a separate vitamin D-supplement if you don’t spend a lot of time in the sun), as this not only helps you to have less mood swings, but it is one of the vitamins that help to boost your immune system.
What else can you do to help?
Apart from exercising and staying hydrated, make sure to eat protein with every meal. Eat less or cut out all-together, refined carbohydrates and sugar, add more healthy fats like oily fish to your diet, make sure to eat enough at every meal but don’t overindulge, drink green tea, manage your stress and learn to relax (meditate). Also make sure that you get enough rest, so always listen to your body. By the way – did you know that, when you crave carbohydrates – it is often because your body doesn’t have enough calcium and magnesium in?
Lastly; there are many medical practitioners and women who believe in HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Speak to your doctor, do your research and then decide what you think is best for you. If you don’t want to use synthetic products, then opt for DIM (Diindolylmethane), says Dr. Brewer. DIM supplements are plant-based chemicals that convert bad oestrogen into good oestrogen.
Post-menopause: the adrenal glands continue to produce small amounts of oestrone, but do make sure to de-stress daily, otherwise this adrenal output is reduced. During post-menopause, female progesterone levels (that plays a role in mood swings), fall to as little as 1/120 of premenopausal levels.
What to do?
Making sure to take calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, are important for strong bones, mood swings and protecting against osteoporosis. After the age of 30, your body doesn’t build bone anymore, so making sure to take these supplements and doing weight-bearing exercises, are key. You don’t need to lift heavy weights; beanbags, 1 kg, a Pilates ball, walking, swimming, are all good ways to help your body to maintain bone density. Another fantastic fun-exercise is Rebounding (bouncing on a ball or trampoline). Not only does it build and maintain bone density and strength, but it is far saver for your joints than jogging. However, if you like to jog and don’t experience knee-, hip or back pain, then continue but always listen to your body. If your joints hurt, rather opt for walking, cycling, swimming or Pilates / Yoga classes.
A good Omega-oil supplement is important; sea buckthorn is a good source, but again use a brand that is trusted and reputable. Doctor Adib noticed that, if you suffer from vaginal dryness or discomfort, sea buckthorn oil, used daily for 3 months, are more effective than a placebo. Taking turmeric is fantastic for aches, pains and inflammation. You can either take the powder or as a supplement.
To end off, let us look at the 4 hormones that play a role:
Oestrogen: produced by the ovaries, oestrogen starts to decline (as discussed above). When supplements and/or a healthy diet is not followed, oestrogen decline causes thinning of the hair and skin, loss of skin-elasticity, low moods, vaginal dryness and bone health.
Progesterone: also produced by the ovaries after ovulation, halfway through the monthly cycle. When a woman is in perimenopausal state, her body still produces oestrogen but not enough progesterone to balance it out. Thus, you may experience mood swings and irregular periods. Progesterone plays a part in normalizing blood clotting, reducing hot flushes, restoring libido and regulating blood sugars.
Testosterone: it is the sex hormone in men, but also plays an important role in women’s health. Testosterone increases libido, boosts muscle mass and strength, as well as increasing energy levels. It also helps with self-confidence, mood, vitality, memory and bone density. It plays a role in preventing cardio vascular disease but, if testosterone levels are low, it can cause fatigue, irritability, depression and a decrease in bone density in women.
Oxytocin: also known as the “love drug,” can also decrease alongside libido. Magnesium and cholesterol, as well as vitamin C, are needed to form oxytocin. Healthy fats, found in avocados, oily fish, walnuts, olives and olive oil, are good to add to your diet. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruit and vegetables. Supplements can be taken; just know that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It needs to be taken every day.
Getting older should not be seen as something to dread! Instead, remember that life is not a destination, but a journey. It is the way we age that matters. The way we look at ourselves, it is a mindset and an attitude. Age, after all, is but a number!