Most of us don’t want to think about menopause at all, yet there are important things every woman should know about menopause to survive this time the easiest way possible. I can go ahead and tell you that at 28 years old, I never imagined I’d have to learn about these issues so soon. Past mistakes I made related to a ten year period of malnutrition and strict dieting led me to enter menopause as early as 27 years old. I went through perimenopause for a period of five years and no matter what I did in terms of gaining weight, I never was able to recover my menstrual cycle and therefore entered menopause at a very early age. Instead of ignoring my body during this critical time of need, I decided to educate myself on things every woman should know about menopause, not just someone going through it as young as I did. If you’re unfamiliar with signs, symptoms and treatments for menopause, check out these quick tips as well as some of the sources at the end of the article.
1. Know when It Starts
One of the most obvious things every woman should know about menopause is exactly when it starts. A woman’s menopause is considered to be the start of a one year mark that she has been without a period. So if you’ve been without your period for a year, count back to the last month it occurred and that was the start of your menopause. Menopause is considered to be final after one year without your period, and then you are considered to be in post-menopause, in which you never have a period again. After you have been without any periods for a length of 10 years, it is safe to say you are in post-menopause for the rest of your life and at this time, any vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal. If you are at a healthy body weight and still without a period, you are either in menopause or in post-menopause.
2. Lower Stress However Possible
Since hormones and moods are all over the place, you’ll need to take stricter measures to bust stress than you ever have before. To do this efficiently, be sure to get lots of rest and implement stress busting exercises into your day, such as brisk walking, yoga, tai-chi and pilates. It is also a good idea to eat foods that reduce stress, which include foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and antioxidants from fruits and veggies.
3. Watch Your Sugar Intake
One thing that should be noted is that, during menopause, hormones don’t work the same as the used to, meaning you may be more insulin sensitive, or even insulin resistant. This means your body won’t handle sugar the same way and eating sugary foods may cause your glycemic index to rise and insulin to soar. This creates stress in the body, weight gain, and messes up your natural hormone rhythms. Emphasize a higher protein diet with a low-moderate fat intake and low glycemic carbs instead of high sugary foods to raise your metabolism, and manage your weight and stress.
4. Strengthen up
One important thing all women in menopause or post-menopause should remember is that the body excretes more calcium and suffers more bone loss during this time than before. You’ll need to implement strength training or more weight bearing exercises at least three times a week, and preferably 5 times a week, to prevent osteoporosis. Resistance training is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, so lift weights, do yoga and use your own body strength however you can to prevent this from happening. Walking is also a great way to strengthen your bones and keep your weight down or in check.
5. Eat Your Bs
Women in menopause or post-menopause should eat more B vitamins during this time, since foods high in B vitamins lower stress and increase metabolism, along with improving mood and brain function. Foods that are high in B vitamins include green veggies, leafy greens, whole grains, fish, and nuts and seeds. These foods also contain phytochemicals that prevent and help age-related memory, mood and heart health.
6. Nix the Nicotine and Booze
If you smoke or drink, then stop. It not only affects your heart health, weight, mood, mind and aging, but also your hormones. It can interfere with natural hormone production and it has even been proven that women who smoke and drink early in life enter menopause earlier than those who don’t. Though this isn’t the reason I entered menopause, you should definitely drink with caution and quit smoking if you haven’t made the change yet. If you drink, keep it only to red wine once or twice a week and only have 5 ounces at a time.
7. Eat Your Phytoestrogens
Most people say that excess estrogen causes fat storage and foods such as soy that contain phytoestrogens are to be highly avoided. This is true to an extent, but for a woman in menopause or post-menopause, this isn’t so true after all. Foods such as soy, plant seeds, some veggies, and many herbs and spices are rich in phytoestrogens. These foods act like natural estrogen in the body and can improve hormonal function in menopausal or post-menopausal women. While it is true some forms of estrogen store fat in someone without enough estrogen, like a post-menopausal woman, these foods are great to eat to improve estrogen levels, and can actually aid in weight loss since these foods balance estrogen in the body. They shouldn’t be eaten in abundance, but should be included in a well-balanced, healthy diet. To get the best sources, avoid GMO sources of soy, and buy whole soy foods like edamame, sprouted tofu, and organic, non-GMO soy mik instead of processed soy protein or soy isolates found in many snack foods. Fermented soy products such as miso, natto, and tempeh are also good sources, as long as they are organic. Flaxseeds are also a great source of phytoestrogens, as are most all herbs and spices.
Menopause is not an easy time for any woman out there, but it doesn’t have to be unbearable. Hot flashes, night sweats, poor mood and lower or increased appetites are normal during the initial stages of menopause and even during the early and mid stages of post-menopause. These symptoms will pass eventually, and the body will find an even keel. Following the above tips are some of the best ways to manage this time as easily as possible to keep your body and brain healthy. If you’ve been through menopause, what is your best health tip to readers?