The menopause uncovered
Posted 12 May 2015 12:00 AM by Nurture team
Keep your joints supple
Registered nutritionist, Angela Dowden, explains: “Your joints can let you down as you age if you don’t pay them the attention and give them the respect they deserve. Repetitive and restrictive lifestyles can result in poor muscle control around joints leading to a loss of the full plane of movement. Think about introducing an exercise such as yoga that will strengthen and loosen joints whilst respecting their intricacy. Exercise helps to release endorphins for feelings of happiness too.”
Dawn Harper is a doctor specialising in women’s health, she says: “If you are going or have gone through the change, oestrogen levels drop, meaning the vaginal walls are less lubricated. Most women know that the change may throw hot flushes their way, but too many accept a dry vagina as part of getting older. You may not want to take HRT but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with vaginal dryness. There are slow release vaginal lubricants available from chemists or your GP can prescribe oestrogen creams, tablets or pessaries which just work locally in the vagina.”
Dawn Harper says: “As we reach the menopause our metabolic rate can slow. A lack of sleep doesn’t help either as it reduces levels of the hormone leptin which tells us when we are full and increases levels of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin so long term sleep deprivation can also mean you start to pile on the pounds. Next time you have a lie in, don’t give yourself a guilt trip, remind yourself that you are just looking after your body.”
Soy is the greatest food source of isoflavones. However, in the West few of us consume the same levels of soy naturally found in an Asian diet. Soy milk, soybeans, tofu, soy nuts and soy nut butter are all good sources so if you’re going through ‘the change’ try adding these to your diet. However, relying on dietary intake is not easy as you need to consume them with most meals to see a benefit. Supplements offer a more equivalent way to meet the levels of a typical Japanese diet that’s rich in phytoestrogens.
Dr Sarah Brewer, former GP and hospital doctor advises: “If you suffer from hot flushes you are not alone. Decreasing levels of oestrogen stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is involved in regulating temperature, sweating and flushing. When it is overworked as the menopause approaches, these other systems can go awry leading to hot flushes and night sweats. Eat little and often – the heat generated by digesting big meals can bring on flushing. Hot rooms can aggravate flushing so keep your house temperature cool. Finally, keep a water spray in your fridge to help cool you down if the going gets hot. Carry some cool wipes in your handbag at all times.”
Adapt to your skin’s changing needs
Dr Sarah Brewer explains: “When we reach the menopause collagen levels can fall by as much as 30 per cent causing several visible changes. Namely a loss of elasticity, thinner skin and a loss of moisture leading to increased dryness. For many, accelerated skin ageing is low down the list of menopausal concerns. But dry, wrinkled skin can affect self-confidence and it can also be uncomfortable.
So is there anything you can do to retain youthful looking skin? The answer is ‘Yes’. Simple steps like switching to products containing phytoestrogens that can replenish key nutrients and hormones can help.”