Menopause is traditionally a taboo topic, leaving women feeling insecure, ashamed or afraid.
BUT, the “change of life” doesn’t have to be the end of life as we know it! Global Health Coach, Jake Carter says that the key to feel better during menopause is to listen to your body.
According to Jake, every woman will have their own experience with menopause, however, there are telltale signs and each of these signs or symptoms can bring insight to associated health challenges, and therefore different ways to work with the body.
“I think the word symptom often carries a negative association, but a symptom doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but rather it can be a form of communication – I look at symptoms as a message from your body, where it is asking for further investigation,” said Jake.
Don’t Ignore The Signals
“Symptoms can be warning signs, asking to be addressed before they manifest into something more serious.”
“While there is no magic bullet, or one size fits all answer when it comes to menopause, there is some common ground including stress, self-deprecation, fear, and lack of understanding that, managed correctly can help address some of the other symptoms of menopause.”
Jake’s top tips to feel better during menopause include:
1. Support Progesterone:
Progesterone, a hormone responsible for fertility, is one of the first hormones to drop during menopause. Menopause occurs when ovulation stops causing progesterone to plummet. Progesterone works on GABA receptors in the brain which are calming and support sleep, along with promoting the assimilation of thyroid hormones into cells. This is one reason women may experience more anxiety, insomnia and slower metabolism during menopause.
Progesterone can be supported through specific herbs such as vitex, or even foods, such as red clover sprouts or wild yams.
2. Reduce Stress:
Menopause reduces the body’s ability to tolerate stress, whilst exposing women to a greater range of stressors.
Oestrogen is another hormone which declines quickly in menopause. Oestrogen has been found to buffer certain stress chemicals within the brain. As oestrogen levels decrease, these stress chemicals become more active, making the bodily less tolerable to stress.
This is then compounded with the physiological stressors from hormones falling, and the emotional stress associated with menopause.
Reducing and managing stress is imperative, as excess stress will further dysregulate the body’s natural rhythms of sleep and hormone regulation.
Fortunately, there are a number of methods to help manage stress with no additional cost. Effective methods range from gratitude logs, expressive writing, meditation and breathing exercises.
Additionally, magnesium is an essential mineral which is extremely beneficial in supporting the breakdown of stress chemicals and supporting sleep.
3. Avoid Overtraining:
During menopause, body shape starts to shift from a typical feminine ‘pear’ shape, more towards an ‘apple’. This is due to the drop in female reproductive hormones which promote the storage of fat around the hips and lower extremities for maternal benefit for energy conservation and warmth for the development of a baby. This new-found storage of body-fat on around the stomach can become an area of focus for women going through menopause, in which two approaches are usually taken to mitigate this shift:
- Increased exercise
- Reducing carbohydrates (which I will unpack in the next point)
The increased exercise further burdens the body with more physical stress, which further exacerbates this shift in body fat.
In addition, the most common form of exercise middle-aged women adhere to is either group exercise classes, or cardiovascular exercises. Both of which have a higher likelihood of impact, and become risky for women in menopause, due to an increased risk of osteoporosis through loss of bone density.
In contrast, strength training may provide huge benefits. It has been shown to promote bone density, while exhibiting lower levels of stress on the body due to larger rest periods between sets, less intramuscular friction, lower set volume and increased recovery days.’
4. Carbohydrates can be your friend:
It is extremely common for women to cut carbohydrates when trying to reduce body fat, however, in menopause, stress is often higher so carbohydrates can actually be beneficial. Our bodies naturally crave carbohydrates in times of stress, hence why there is a tendency to consume more carbohydrates in the evening or at the end of the work week. This is due to our body’s awareness that carbohydrates lower stress chemicals by increasing insulin, and support serotonin.
Avoiding carbohydrates may further expose the body to more stress and exacerbate the symptoms of menopause. However, increasing carbohydrates, especially in the evening, can support sleep, one area that is affected by menopause.
5. Build or join a community:
Living with symptoms of menopause can leave women feeling distressed, uneasy, vulnerable and isolated. It’s important to have an open line of communication with those closest to you, so that they not only understand what you are going through but can support you through it. Joining a community of individuals who are also experiencing menopause can provide a sense of belonging, normality and intimacy which may be jeopardised due to personal changes in self-identity.
In addition, expressing yourself is important along with viewing your body with empathy, gratitude and care that all of the experienced symptoms are messages to redirect you onto a path of greater health.
As part of his mission to redefine health across the world, Jake is educating people to take a full-system approach to wellbeing by appreciating the multi-dimensional aspects within us, in 2021, Jake launched The Carter Institute.
The Carter Institute is a program developed with health professionals, including doctors, naturopaths, allied health professionals, physiotherapists, life coaches, and personal trainers in mind.
The 12-month certification program is broken down into a series of 25 online seminars covering topics such as gut health, women’s health, mental-wellbeing through to blood work, delivered over 3,703 slides, and referencing more than 1,000 medical journals.
What are your tips to feel better during menopause? Tell us in the comments below.