Menopausal Years, hot flashes…diet and more

I have been talking to a number of women these past few months that have asked me about what to do about hot flashes, fog and the stubborn weight that happens to a lot of us around the time of menopause, which can be beyond frustating to say the least.

I was thinking about when I was having hot flashes and the things I did with my diet, exercise and supplements that I think really helped me not to have a crazy amount of hot flashes.

I remember some nights I would drive my husband crazy with throwing the covers off then putting them back on numerous times…He thought I was going nuts 🙂

I was telling my husband about some of the questions I have been getting about hot flashes…as I remember having some but not as bad as some of my friends at that time.

He said don’t you remember you would wake me up, when you threw off the covers, and then I would be freezing?

I was looking at him thinking how does he remember that ? As he does NOT seem to remember all the times he woke me up with his snoring. 🙂

Menopause can be really frustrating and a challenging time in our lives for sure.

Menopause typically starts around 51-52, but can start at a much younger age for some or even an older age. Women don’t always know they are starting to go through the change, or peri-menopause.

They start getting all these symptoms, of brain fog, anxiety, low sex drive, hot flashes, and weight gain to name a few of the symptoms that start happening when our hormones start declining.

Some doctor’s do not take our symptom’s seriously, and may want to prescribe us an anti-depressant, or say its all in our heads, or its just menopause, live with it.

My doctor never told me that processed food, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine could be contributing to my symptoms, and cutting down on those things could help me.

I had a doctor once tell me it was all in my head, and he really made me fearful about what was happening to me, I fired him.

I then starting reading every hormone book I could get my hands on, and starting listening to audio’s on hormones, and menopause to help figure it out for myself.

What happens in our mid thirties are hormones start declining, progesterone goes down first. Then we can have sleep disturbances, hot flashes, anxiety, brain fog, low energy, weight gain, or a shift in our weight.

Progesterone helps to plump the skin too. So then our skin could start feeling drier as well.

Estrogen works with progesterone too, estrogen lubricates the skin, and joints, and helps us not to get vaginal dryness as well. It really helps our system to stay strong.

Estrogen helps us sleep, helps with memory, and the list could go on. When it goes down we get decreased memory, hot flashes, and brain fog etc…

Hormones are a very complicated subject. I would say to always talk with your doctor or find a new doctor if yours does not listen, before starting anything new such as taking supplements, starting a new exercise routine or changing your diet.

I know I had my hormones tested many times by saliva, and urine and blood tests. My progesterone and estrogen, and testosterone were always low. But it was the ratio between them that mattered most.

So even though my estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone were low my estrogen was higher than the other two which would make me more estrogen dominant. Now my testosterone is still low, but it is the one that is highest out of the three of them, which can cause loss of hair on the head, and facial hair…not what I want to happen.

What I have learned is going into menopause with an optimal diet, and exercise program, plus strong adrenals can help us down the road with less symptoms, during menopausal years.

All our hormones need to be in balance for us to feel optimally.

Our adrenals take over producing our hormones when our ovaries shut down for the most part, and our adrenals may be exhausted from prolonged stress before we even hit peri-menopause and might not be able to meet the demand for more hormones.

I would say to always get all your hormones tested, even your thyroid. As the thyroid and adrenals work together.

Having a diet of lot’s of fibrous veggie’s, and good proteins, helps. I was lucky I changed my diet and got into an active lifestyle at 40, that really helped me go through menopause.

 

Some strategies that worked for me, and supplements at peri-menopause, menopause, and even now.

  • Coffee can trigger hot flashes and not sleeping well. Sometimes it disrupts blood sugar balance as well.
  • Sugar and alcohol can worsen hot flashes
  • Having sufficient protein is very helpfull, it balances out your blood sugar
  • Some may need to eat more frequently, if you have a blood sugar problems.
  • Eat a snack of protein between meals, such as a protein whey protein shake.

Some strategies that worked for me, and supplements at peri-menopause, menopause, and even now.

  • I used and it worked for me you would need to talk with your doctor to get bio-identical hormones, like a Bi-Est cream of 80% estriol and 20% estradiol. if natural supplements don’t help and diet and lifestyle changes.
  • *That is a personal choice, I went that route and took supplements as they wanted me to have more estrogen as my bone density was low. I took the smallest dose of estrogen cream, and progesterone cream for a while. Then switched to the pill form of Progesterone not synthetic progestin.
  • Night sweats: estrogen is low, but then you can get surge’s in the night of estrogen, my Dr said, which can cause night sweats.

I tried some of these things

  • Flax seeds, to optimize and help with hot flashes (I used)
  • Maca: helps to balance the hormones and adrenals, then helping estrogen
  • Vitamin E
  • Ashwagandha: is an adaptogen, it helps adrenals and balance estrogen The digestive tract effects your hormones, parasites, etc.
  • Black Cohosh, short time, St John’s wart, can help
  • Vitex, helps to increase progesterone.

The things that helped me the most, and where I have Hashimoto’s I took the bottles to my Doctor and she said it was ok to take for me, always go through your doctor as I’m not a practitioner, and this is just my experience, and what worked for me, and my doctor knows my history etc…

I loved all of Lorna Vanderhaeghe products she formulated them, put out now by Natural factors.

  • Menosense : designed to support for symptoms associated with menopause, you can look it up to get the ingredients and she formulated to help herself and daughters.
  • Estrosense: estrogen balancing, says balanced hormones, healthy breasts, effortless periods, PMS support, there is no estrogen in it. I take 2 capsules daily with my food in the AM
  • Adrenasense: Adrenal nutrients help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Helps promote restful sleep. Right now taking this again, 2 capsules midday with my late lunch.
  • She has a thyroid support product as well, called Thyrosense which I showed my doctor as well. I always ask her and show her bottles, she’s the best.

All her products are put out by Natural Factor’s here in the US, in Canada I think Preferred Nutrition Ltd. I used to listen to all her audio’s to see how everything worked, and how to take the products etc… vitamin shoppe carries, and herb online etc…

More take aways I found and find beneficial…

  • Eating less SUGAR and artificial sweeteners
  • Watch for BPA, and Phytates found in many plastics can mimic estrogen an d work against you and your testosterone levels too.
  • Pesticides, which can cause testosterone to drop
  • Stress, watch the stress is huge, walk, take naps, read a good book, fun time with family and pets, and get out into the sunshine.
  • Lift weights 2-3 days. Keeps us strong, optimizing metabolism, helps you have nice toned look, raise mood, helps bone density.
  • High intensity interval training 1-2 days can be beneficial too.
  • Low testosterone can cause brain fog, weakness, low pain threshold, low libido, loss of muscle….

My girlfriend one glass of wine and she had terrible hot flashes. Plus other women I know said when they cut the wine down or out there hot flashes became much better.

A simple template I find really helps me to maintain my weight and helped me lose fat as well.

When I switched my diet to more fibrous veggies, leafy greens moderate palm size portion of protein at 3 meals, starchy carbs to my tolerance, usually a 1/2 cup serving or 1 small sweet potato, or butternut squash etc…at dinner. Plus a thumb of fat at my meals about 16 grams, depends. I also do well with a 1/2 cup of berries or small banana at breakfast, especially if I work out.

We are all unique so even though this works for me, it may not work for you. But if you are eating a lot or starchy carbohydrates, breads, pastas, etc…try less and see what happens.

Try switching to more carbs in the form of veggies, and 1 -2 servings of fruit a day. More fibrous veggies than fruit.

We need some starchy carbs and the amount will depend on you, age, genetics, how hard you workout..do you do a lot of high intensity exercise? Then you may need more than someone who sits all day or does none.

Breakfast: Protein and veggies thumb of fat or about 16 grams, or a protein shake

Lunch: protein and veggies, or salad with protein 1-2 tbs vinaigrette dressing or olive oil and vinegar, or protein shake with spinach, a thumb of fat etc…

Snack: An apple, or protein and veggie etc…Snacking is optional, I don’t snack now it was habit for me and I try to just eat my 3 meals..but depends on how I feel.

Dinner: Palm of protein, half a plate fibrous veggie’s about 2 fists, starch such as one small size or 1/2 cup sweet potato, 1/2 cup rice white potato, 1 cup squash depends squash is not as starchy as the others. Some potato’s our huge as well.

Starch with your dinner meal works really well for women in the menopausal years for sleep, starchy carbs help to relax us.

Walking on all days as much as you can, I feel this is one of the best things we can do for ourselves in the menopausal years to lower our stress as we are more stress reactive now at this time in our lives.

I know I have talked about all of this before, but some ladies have asked me to refresh there minds or repeat it this.

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