The term menopause is derived from meno (meaning month, menses) plus pausis (meaning pause or cessation). In other words, it is standing the terminology and definitions can be helpful in understanding the natural biological process of aging.
Unfortunately, all women have to go through menopause, however it doesn’t have to be hard, and remember too that it’s a completely natural process. It’s also not the same for everyone, so make sure that you’re not conditioning yourself to expect some things to happen to you, because they may not.
The good news is that you can certainly greatly reduce the symptoms.
When we hear the word menopause, the first things to come to mind are usually weight gain, hot flashes, sleep disorder, and mood swings.
And it’s true, these are the typical symptoms of menopause.
Symptoms can start with the perimenopause, which is the period immediately before menopause — it starts with changes in the menstrual cycle, and ends 12 months after the final menstrual period.
Most women go through this as a natural event of aging, although it can also be brought on early by an unexpected surgery, the use of some medications, or treatments like radiation or chemotherapy.
You can use a number of alternative approaches to menopause to provide relief from common symptoms, and also help to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and other diseases of aging.
The first thing you can do is improve your diet. Add more healthy fats, such as fatty fish (like sardines or wild salmon), grass-fed butter, ghee, full-fat yogurt, grass-fed finished beef, avocados, coconut oil, and seeds. At the same time avoid processed foods, gluten, added sugars, and fried foods.
The second thing is to take regular exercise, especially resistance training. If you can, then go to group exercise classes, or take at least a few personal training sessions so that you can learn the correct exercise form and the best exercises for you. If you can’t, then there are lots of free exercise videos on YouTube and of course many books that can benefit you. So you really do have lots of resources — you can do this!
Thirdly, some supplements may help:
w Vitamin C with bioflavonoids will help to relieve menopausal hot flashes, and in addition will improve your immune system (plus the many other health benefits that I have talked about often in previous articles).
w Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) plays a critical role in the manufacture of serotonin as well as other amino acid neurotransmitters, so it will help with depression, mood swings, and insomnia too.
w Evening Primrose Oil is the most recommended supplement for reducing hot flashes.
w Also helpful are Gamma-Oryzanol, a substance found in grains such as rice, barley, oats, also in tomatoes, asparagus, olives, berries, peas, and citrus fruits, and vitamin E, found in nuts such as almonds, seeds such as sunflower seeds, and spinach and broccoli.
And fourth, a lot of natural herbs can provide significant benefits:
w Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis) is an aromatic herb widely used throughout Asia. It can especially help reduce menopausal hot flashes and menstrual cramps. Just be careful if you are on medications though, as this may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin).
w Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba) is the world’s oldest living species of tree, with fossil records as old as 200 million years, and can be beneficial.
w Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) can help in reducing mental or physical fatigue, and enhance the ability to cope with physical and mental stressors by supporting the adrenal glands, or treating changes in the body due to lack of estrogen.
w Black cohosh is a herb native to North America, the roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of the plant are used in dietary supplements and can be beneficial.
w And Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus Castus is a herb that is especially good for the management of menopausal symptoms.The fruits of chaste tree contain essential oils, irridoids, pseudoindicans, and flavonoids, and the effect of chaste tree is on the hypothalamus-hypophysis axis.
In addition to all of these, regular yoga and relaxing response method such as meditation will help enormously.
As always, just make sure that you ask your physician before trying any supplements or herbs, to be certain that they are good for YOU too!
Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892