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There are a blessed few women these days who skate through menopause without troublesome symptoms. And while you may recognize “the Change” easily when it starts with menstrual cycle changes and hot flashes, if your menopause starts with insomnia and mood swings you are far more likely to end up on sleeping pills and antidepressants than you are to receive hormone help.
You may not have any control over how your menopause starts but you surely have a say in how it progresses. To help you make this natural transition as smooth as possible, we’ve sought the advice of Ann Louise Gittleman, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Before the Change, for her Top Ten out-of-the-box ways to manage your menopause.
If you want to stop storing fat, boost your immune system, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, then it’s time to get to know flax. Flax is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fats and helps balance estrogen and support healthy cholesterol. It can also help you fight the blues, fatigue, and skin conditions.
Toast your flaxseeds lightly before grinding, and sprinkle them on salads or mix into healthy muffins. Flaxseed oil can be drizzled over popcorn or steamed veggies but should never be heated. It needs to be stored in a cool, dark place because it goes rancid easily.
Your hormone balance affects your skin – it can go from smooth and supple to dry and wrinkled practically overnight when hormones are out of balance. Black currant seed oil is not only rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fats, but also has gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a potent fatty acid that supports your hormone functions.
GLA not only soothes skin irritation, cramping, headaches, mood changes, and breast tenderness, but also calms nerves and helps the body stimulate fat burning. Ann Louise Gittleman recommends 2 capsules of our GLA-90 twice daily with food.
Some women reach perimenopause – the years leading up to menopause – and don’t recognize who they’ve become. Sadly, the hormone havoc brings with it mood swings, stress and irritability strong enough they no longer feel like themselves anymore. Fibromyalgia, panic attacks, insomnia, tissue dryness, and water retention may all be part of this perfect storm causing you to feel less than your best.
If this is you, you may need magnesium and a combination of vitamins to help support your hormones to balance themselves. The combination of Mag-Key plus the Female Multivitamin contains a powerful mix of Magnesium, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E is what Ann Louise Gittleman recommends to bring hormones back into harmony again.
If you need more than magnesium and multivitamins for your moods, think zinc. Zinc helps balance hormones by lowering estrogen and increasing progesterone, while helping to build strong bones and boost immunity. Zinc also helps balance your copper levels, which may help with moods and boost your energy. The main source of zinc in our diets is animal products, so zinc supplementation is a must for vegans and vegetarians.
Many of the symptoms you start to experience in perimenopause can be caused by low progesterone, the first hormone to decline during this transition. Progesterone is used up rapidly during stressful times, and the hectic schedules so common during midlife are enough to zap progesterone levels and leave you coming up short.
If you are experiencing depression, fatigue, insomnia, foggy thinking, low libido, water retention, bone loss, abnormal blood sugars, weight gain, thyroid issues, or low adrenal function, low progesterone may be to blame.
Synthetic progesterones come with symptoms of their own, so Ann Louise Gittleman recommends supplementing with ProgestaKey, a non-prescription, natural progesterone topical cream you apply daily. It may take 6 weeks or more to experience relief from your symptoms.
If you experience blood sugar imbalance, weight gain, insulin resistance, or a decreased ability to handle stress, and you sit for most of the day, then you need to get moving to get your hormones back in balance.
Exercise lowers cortisol levels – our stress hormone – and raises levels of endorphins – our “feel good” hormones, all while helping to bring our sex hormones back in balance.
Dance, swim, bicycle, walk briskly, garden, and do what you love that gets you moving for at least 30 minutes every day. Even a good housecleaning counts! Just don’t spend more than 2 hours exercising daily, or you run the risk of overstressing your body and increasing cortisol levels, which brings hormones even more out of balance.
Say bye-bye to belly fat by lowering your cortisol levels naturally and stress less. While stress is an essential survival response for the short-term, in the long-term it raises cortisol levels, which leads to fatigue, depression, anxiety, digestive woes, and excess belly fat – aka the “menopot.”
Change your relationship to stress with daily deep breathing, meditating, using visualization, or going for a walk. Lowering stress and cortisol can also turn back the clock on aging and bring back energy you thought you had lost for good!
Your adrenal glands make your stress hormones, and their health is essential for a healthy menopause. These small glands sitting on top of your kidneys are the backup system for your declining sex hormones.
So as your busy, stressful lifestyle is burning up your progesterone, your adrenals kick into high gear to make up the difference. You need your adrenals in top shape, so as you lower your stress levels, you also need to nourish your adrenals with a full supply of vitamins, minerals and glandular support.
In addition to a healthy diet and a good multivitamin, you may need to supplement with a good Adrenal Formula. Signs your adrenals are under stress may include constant fatigue, trouble making it through the day without feeling sleepy or exhausted, insomnia, waking up at night, excess belly fat, carb and caffeine cravings, easily overwhelmed by stress, dark circles or bags under your eyes, and that “wired but tired” feeling that keeps you alert late at night.
Right now, your liver is hard at work breaking down fats and getting rid of excess hormones to keep your body functioning at its best. But when your liver can’t make enough bile, your bile becomes thick and congested and can’t do its job anymore. Excess estrogen accumulates and you start to experience fatigue, weight gain, estrogen dominance, low thyroid, indigestion, and constipation. It turns into a vicious cycle that only leads to more menopause symptoms.
Love your liver and build better bile with beets and bitter foods like arugula and dark chocolate, while making sure you’re getting essential nutrients your liver needs like choline and taurine. If you have a history of gallbladder problems or have had your gallbladder removed, consider supplementing with Bile Builder to help your body process fats more efficiently and stimulate bile production.
The dangers of synthetic estrogens have been broadcast far and wide, and are of great concern to women, especially during menopause and beyond. You can, however, supplement with natural plant-based phytoestrogens to bring low estrogen back into balance. Because estrogen dominance is so common, it’s best to start with a Saliva Hormone Test to make sure you truly have an estrogen deficiency.
Once your test comes back confirming your estrogen needs a boost, don’t turn to soy-based products, because of the potential for them to contain goitrogens, compounds known to impair thyroid function. Instead, Ann Louise Gittleman recommends pomegranate seed oil, maca, and turmeric or curcumin as the herbs to bring estrogen back into balance.
For more hormone help, get your copy of Before the Change, the New York Times Bestselling step-by-step, symptom-by-symptom guide that helps you navigate gracefully through the perimenopause and menopause years.
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