Women “pausing” in Power Surge often ask one another what remedies they’ve used to address their menopausal issues. I had the good fortune to be made aware of nutrition early on in life by my dearest friend and savvy mother, Anne, who went through a difficult menopause and prepared me for what to expect. The general consensus is that your menopause is likely to be similar to your mother’s menopausal experience.
I was astonished when she told me that she had menopause-related high cholesterol of 400, which she lowered only with soy lecithin — 40+ years ago. She’s 95 today. That’s when I started researching ways of naturally lowering cholesterol and exploring the many benefits of soy protein and isoflavones.
Realisitcally, like you, I do not live on vitamins alone. I don’t buy organic foods. I eat the wrong things more often than I should, and oftentimes the joints ache too much to exercise. Do the best you can because nobody can help YOU through this transition as much as yourself!
Read, educate yourself, ask questions and learn tips that will help you “survive” this transition of life.
Time-Tested TIPS from Power Surge. You’ll find specific remedies in the recommendations area.
Menopause is a time fraught with physical, hormotional and spiritual changes.
For those concerned with weight loss, perimenopause is hardly the time for strict dieting. You have enough on your plate already (no pun intended). It’s enough to cope with the extreme hormonal upheavals. However, one can and should try to observe the best eating and exercise habits because they can be extremely helpful during peri and postmenopause, and can help to eliminate many of the problems you experience and form the foundation for a healthy future. It’s wise to begin a mild strength-training program to prevent muscle and bone degeneration later in life.
Did you know that exercise is one of the most effective measures in lowering cholesterol? Lowering your LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising your HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) AND lowering your triglycerides, too!
Did you also know that a few minutes of exercise can stop a panic attack dead in its tracks? Reduce anxiety? Decrease and even eliminate depression? Exercise does more than boost your mood and energy level, it also has a long-lasting calming effect. You don’t need elaborate equipment or gyms. The best equipment you have is your own body. Studies show that people feel less anxious while they are exercising and then for the next several hours. You don’t need to do an hour of heavy aerobics. A review of dozens of studies determined that you need to exercise for only 20 minutes for this natural tranquilizer to kick in. It’s a known fact that the best exercise is walking — even a twenty minute walk a day. The important thing is “consistency.” So, if you do 20 minutes of exercise even three times a week, it can be instrumental in establishing optimal health and, yes, lessening the severity of menopausal symptoms.
Brown Bagging It! Increased anxiety, hyperventilating and even panic attacks are common complaints during the perimenopausal years. You’ll find numerous suggestions all over the site about how to handle anxiety/panic. Sure, there are herbs, vitamins, tranquilizers, antidepressants and the exercise mentioned above. However, Power Surge also recommends brown bagging it, especially in emergency situations. You ask, “What is brown bagging it?”
Get yourself a small paper bag. Squish (yes, squish) the top together as though you were going to POP IT! Take the gathered top part of the bag and place it tightly over your nose and mouth, preventing outside air from getting in. Now, inhale deeply! When you feel you can’t inhale anymore, inhale just a little… bit … more. Next, slowly… exhale … and when you feel there’s no breath left … exhale just a little … bit … more. Do this for no longer than 30 seconds and see how you feel. Should you feel light-headed, don’t continue. However, most people have no problems and can do this exercise for one minute. The idea behind this is that by breathing into the paper bag, you’re inhaling carbon dioxide, which serves as a relaxant to your body’s organs, rather than oxygen which acts as a stimulant. Therefore, this exercise can be excellent for palpitations, anxiety, hyperventilation and general stress. Carry a brown bag in your purse. Stick one in your car’s glove compartment. You’ll be amazed at how simple and effective this procedure is!
Speaking of palpitations, should they hit, try taking 500 mg. of magnesium. They say, “If it spasms, give it magnesium.” The same holds true for migraines. If you feel a migraine coming on, try 500 mg. magnesium. You’ll find more info about magnesium on the Recommendations page.
Take one aspirin tablet per day (325 mg., 1/2 a regular adult dose) as a natural anti-coagulant. Antiplatelet therapy reduces the risk of any serious vascular event by about one quarter; risk of non-fatal heart attack by one third, non-fatal stroke by one quarter, and vascular death by one sixth. If heart attack (or stroke) symptoms occur, take one aspirin immediately as its anti-coagulant effects can mean the difference between life and death.
Become more aware of nutrition — what you put into your body. The types of oils you use in cooking, the way you prepare your foods. Canola, Sunflower, Safflower and Olive oils are the best. Sunflower oil actually serves as a cleanser of your arteries to remove plaque and prevent more plaque from forming. Certain fats are good for your body, while others are bad.. As you are aging your skin, hair and nails are likely to become drier and more brittle and lose their natural oils. Moisturize your skin and deep-condition your hair. And eat lots of fruit and fiber.
Avoid processed foods, nicotine, caffeine, artificial sweetners and “junk” food. These are no-no’s for menopausal women. Try to cut down or, better yet, stop drinking carbonated drinks, especially diet sodas – and more especially, those made with aspertame (Nutrasweet). The carbonation can cause bloating. I can’t even begin to tell you what sort of side effects you can experience from aspertame and so many low-calorie foods are made with it. It wouldn’t surprise me if you stopped using aspertame and some of the symptoms you attributed to menopause disappeared.
Keep a journal. Journalling can be extremely useful. A suggestion — when you have a hot flash, mood swing, palpitations, bout of binge eating, sudden elevated anxiety, panic attack, or any number of repetitive behavioral problems, take a pen and paper (or treat yourself to an actual journal) and write down:
- What you were doing
- What you were thinking
- What you were feeling
- With whom you were interacting
- What they said to you
- What you ate just prior to the onset of the problem
… and anything else you can think of that might be useful in identifying your triggers.
By keeping a running journal of the ‘changes’ you experience, you’ll be able to identify those circumstances, foods, people, thoughts, activities that may have triggered the physical and emotional changes. Through examination, you can see if there’s a pattern to the emotional UPS and downs, you can utilize the process of elimination in pinpointing the cause of the problem! You can keep your own menopause blog/journal, a free feature when you sign up for the Power Surge Message Board.
Dress in thin layers. When a hot flash hits, you can peel off the top layer (without getting arrested) and wear cotton as it is the most absorbent and cool of all fibers.
- Drink a glass of cold water or juice at the onset of a flash
- At night, keep a carafe or thermos of ice water or an ice pack alongside your bed
- Use cotton sheets, sleeping garments, lingerie, and clothing to let your skin “breathe”
Believe it or not, one of the quickest remedies for hot flashes and sweats is in your own refrigerator. Open the freezer and pull out a bag of frozen vegetables. Place it on your face, neck, inner arms and wrists. It’s refreshing and often can thwart a hot flash instantly. When unanticipated hot flashes or sweats hit, especially while travelling, a handy item to have is a mini portable personal fan. I’ve kept one in my glove compartment since I started perimenopause. It’s inexpensive and effective. Remember, this isn’t a taboo subject any longer. There’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s a natural occurrence. So, use your frozen veggies, or whip out your hand fan and, uncomfortable as it may be, try to find the humor in it. Everyone else will, too.
Eat lots of garlic!. Garlic is excellent for blood pressure and cholesterol. You can also take garlic in in a gel tablet – odorless, too. Also, eat lots of broccoli. It’s loaded with phytochemicals, vitamins and contains the highest amount of antioxidants than any other vegetable. Stacked with protective compounds , such as isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, as well as indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a substance that is said to have anticancer actions, broccoli tops the list of ‘must serves’. The entire Brassica family of vegetables, (which includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale and collard greens), contains a compound that activates certain enzymes in the human body to protect cells from genetic damage.
Try adding cinnamon and ground flaxseed to your morning oatmeal. It’s been discovered that cinnamon is very effective in lowering hyptertension. Ground flaxseed blends nicely with oatmeal and is one of the most important things you should take. Flax is good for your heart, for maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, one of the “good fats” our bodies need, has anti-carcinogenic properties to protect us from various forms of cancer. Flaxseed is an excellent source of fiber and especially Omega 3 Fatty Acids. A 2 tablespoon serving provides 2400 mg of Omega 3. Read more about flaxseed.
When our estrogen levels dip, our cholesterol levels often become elevated. It’s not something to be alarmed about, but it is something to take action to treat. Your health care practitioner may immediately suggest going on statins, such as Lipitor, Zocor, etc., to lower your cholesterol. Remember, this is probably a temporary condition and there are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally before resorting to prescription drugs — especially getting involved in a regular exercise programl. See Power Surge’s Recommendations.
Avoid fried, rich, spicy foods and too much sugar. As we go through the menopause transition, women are more likely to develop heartburn, acid reflux, gallstones, so avoid spicy and fatty foods.
You know how we suddenly develop cravings for chocolate? They’ve said that chocolate is the “feel good” food – probably raising seratonin levels. However, while it may make us feel good for a short while, chocolate and all sweets can bring on hot flashes, raise insulin levels, cause palpitations, anxiety and even depression in some, so while everyone’s exalting chocolate to the sky, remember it’s not good for every peri and postmenopausal woman.
Avoid toxic situations and people! Menopause can be likened to Murphy’s Law — whenever anything can go wrong, it does! Our patience is tested to the max while we’re coping with all these changes. It seems all our demons, every unresolved issue of our life, hits us right between the eyes during perimenopause. We each know at least one someone who pushes all our wrong buttons. If you know certain situations or people are invariably going to cause you grief, do everything within your power to avoid them. Avoid inconsequential arguments. Many women who have passed through Power Surge have discussed issues with anxiety and anger — oftentimes, inappropriate anger — even feelings of rage. This isn’t uncommon during perimenopause while our hormones are ebbing and flowing, up and down until we feel like an alien has taken over our body. There are simple things you can use from the breathing exercises above to taking lots of vitamin B, especially inositol, which is known as “nature’s own tranquilizer.” Many women are helped by using St. John’s Wort. It’s not only good for depression, but helps anxiety as well. You’ll find numerous suggestions on the Recommendations page and in the Being The Best You area of the site. There’s also a very helpful article, A surprising new health tip: When you’re angry, let it show. Here’s a helpful article about anxiety.
Let the light in. Turn down the noise. Find a quiet, peaceful place to regroup, or simply to read, to sew, to relax, to be free from all the stresses of the world. Perhaps you can use that time to boot up the computer and share with other women going through the same thing as you! And, DO turn off the news! One of the most contributing factors to high stress levels is watching the local news. Whether you live alone, or with your family, explain that you need some time and space for yourself. If they love you, they’ll understand what you’re going through. Explain that it has nothing to do with them, but that you simply need to tune out some of those things that cause you to feel worse.
The bottom line: LEARN TO P-A-M-P-E-R yourself!
Look at all the “TO DO” lists you’ve accumulated! I recetly printed out just one of my to do lists and ended up with 15 printed pages. You know as well as I that many of the notations on your to do list have been there for weeks, maybe months (maybe years). I could wallpaper my entire house with all the post-its scattered about my computer room/office. IF you must keep appointments organized, put them in your cell phone’s notepad. If you don’t want or can’t afford an expensive cell phone/PDA, you can purchase a less expensive PDA such as the Palm z22 PDA or the Palm Tungsten E2 100.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (a glass of red wine daily is good for your health). Once I entered perimenopause, I had to stop enjoying my glass of red wine because of the havoc it wreaked on my body. If you smoke, stop, or, at least, cut down to a minimum. You already know why without my telling you.
Alcoholic beverages can contribute to hot flashes and palpitations, plus raise your triglycerides as alcohol is converted to sugar in the body. Sugar and alcohol are two of the worst offenders during perimenopause and elevated triglycerides is one of the greatest contributors to heart disease.
High carbohydrate foods can also cause hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety and depression, plus elevated insulin levels which can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, plus too many carbohydrates can cause weight gain.
For the nausea often associated with perimenopause and PMS, try a cup of boiling water with 2-3 tsp. of lemon juice (from concentrated lemon juice). Sip it slowly and it should work like a charm every time. Ginger is also supposed to be helpful. However, using ginger itself may cause stomach problems. They say to add ginger to food, but really, who wants to eat when they feel nauseous? I would also recommend drinking some warm ginger ale (soda). You can also try peppermint or camomille tea, but not too much (I still prefer plain water and lemon).
Try to keep your sense of humor. I’ve always said in Power Surge, the moment we lose our sense of humor about life in general is the moment that life becomes unmanageable.
If you’re dealing with hair thinning and/or loss, there are some excellent tips in Hair Loss and Thinning at Menopause.
If you’re suffering from dry skin and other midlife and/or menopause-related skin disorders, you’ll find good information and tips in Tips for Midlife Dry Skin. There’s additional information about vaginal dryness here.
It’s really okay after years of playing superwoman to take time for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how well everyone manages to get along without your constant attention. Take time to regroup. Make “quiet time” for yourself. Go for a walk. Learn meditation. Reacquaint yourself with your inner child! She’s yearning to be heard. Find that peaceful place within yourself that so many of us seem to sequester away at some point in our lives, perhaps during times of stress, confusion, fear, frustration and pain — just when we need it. In my moments of anxiety and stress, music has soothed me. I have found peaceful moments with the help of Power Surge friend, Christine Magnussen’s Harp recording, “On Wings Of A Dove.
Of course, medication has its place in treating various conditions — many specifically related to perimenopause and menopause. However, medication isn’t always the answer. Not all, but many of the answers may lie within you and, believe it or not, how you “translate” everything that’s happening in your body. Own your body. It’s within your power.
Read and understand. You want to know more about menopause – visit Educate Your Body. If you’re interested in complex medical abstracts the averge woman doesn’t understand, this is not the place for it. We strive to make information you need about this rite of passage — simple and understable. There are menopause primers all over the site. There’s a list of prestigious experts in the area of menopause and women’s health a mile long, all of whom have appeared in Power Surge to answer your questions. Learn from their wisdom. They all talk in plain language. Glance at all the wonderful praise that’s been bestowed upon Power Surge and you’ll know you’re in a safe and caring place.
Become friends with your body. Listen to the messages it gives you. Your body will instinctively tell you more about what’s going on, especially during peri and postmenopause, than test results –and you can learn how to instinctively respond to it. Remember, if you treat your body well during these transitional years, it will treat you well in return… and long down the road. Own your body!
Be sure to check out the transcript library and other areas of the site for more information on menopause symptoms, methods of treatment, recommendations and Ask The Experts areas. There’s also the comprehensive Power Surge Search Engine to find specific information on any subject you’re looking for.
And, by all means, if you want to commiserate with other women — women who truly understand what you’re going through, the Power Surge Message Board and Insta-chat are best places to find them!
Other good “starter” articles are,
As a society, we are acutely exposed to daily stresses, be they emotional, physical, or mental. Work situations, family changes and obligations, changes in our bodies and in our health–all of these can contribute to the stress demands on our bodies. Our bodies respond to these stresses in a similar fashion despite the source. Physiologically, each time we are exposed to stresses, our adrenal glands respond by producing certain hormones. One part of the adrenal gland, the adrenal cortex, responds to long and short-term stresses, while the adrenal medulla responds to sudden or alarm situations, producing our “fight or flight” response. With the amount of stress we are exposed to each day, you’d think our adrenal glands were of considerable size, but that isn’t the case. Our adrenals weigh about 5 grams each and reside in our bodies just above our kidneys in the low back area. For small glands, they play an enormous role in our health. Their function also tends to decline over a person’s lifetime, leading some researchers to coin a new term “adrenapause” to define this loss. As such, we need to have ways in which we can keep our adrenal glands healthy.
From a preventive standpoint, we can reduce our exposure to certain stresses, as well as change the degree to which we allow stresses to affect us. This involves making choices about what we subject ourselves to, as well as how we respond to situations we can’t avoid or change. The amounts of hormones, specifically glucocorticoids and catecholamines, that are released by the adrenal glands are directly related to the amount of stress the body endures, and these hormones can affect nearly all the tissues in our bodies. Individuals exposed to long-term stress have higher circulating glucocorticoids than a person who is unstressed does. Certain lifestyle changes, such as exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga, have all been demonstrated to ease our response to stress. Those who incorporate one or more of these into their days are noticeably more resilient to daily stresses.
We can also address adrenal health through nutritional support and herbs. Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are crucial to adrenal health. Being water-soluble vitamins, they are easily depleted and may need regular supplementation, especially in times of stress. Vitamin C is stored in high concentrations in the adrenal glands, which is evidence of its need for this important vitamin. It has been shown that a person’s need for vitamin C varies, depending on what their body is going through at the time. Infection, for an example, can increase the body’s need for vitamin C considerably. Herbs which address adrenal health are referred to as adaptogens, because they help the body adapt to changes, or stresses. Some of the most notable herbs utilized for adrenal support are licorice, ginseng, and astragalus. Astragalus has long been used in Chinese medicine as a tonic. Research has demonstrated its value in enhancing immunity through multiple mechanisms. Ginsengs are commonly prescribed to increase energy and support adrenal function. Research has demonstrated improved functioning under stress as well as increased working capacity following ginseng use. For women, Siberian ginseng appears to be the most appropriate of the ginsengs, as from a Chinese medicine perspective, it is more cooling (less likely to induce hot flashes) and can be used on a regular basis. Borage leaf also provides specific support to the adrenal cortex and can be used daily to support adrenal health.
Diet is another factor that plays a strong role, as it can supply the body with nutrients as well as deplete the adrenals, depending on what choices are made. For example, sugar and caffeine tend to draw energy from the adrenal glands, so stay away from them during times of stress or if you are working at improving adrenal health. In contrast, nutrients that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables supply healthy support for the body. Nutrient-rich foods, like kelp and other seaweed, are good sources of key vitamins and minerals important to glandular health.
A balanced program for supporting adrenal health includes scheduling time to exercise and taking some time for you to be mindful of your stress level and facilitate adjustments when necessary. Remember that treating health holistically means addressing mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of one’s life, for they all affect one another and can contribute to health as well as disease.
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