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Menopause

Written by: Amanda Whitehead, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

How I Perceive What Menopause Is


Menopause has been part of our history for many years. However, never has menopause had more attention than it does in this present day.


I believe menopause should be looked at and approached positively, yes it is a reminder to women that they are getting older, however, it is another new chapter in life and personally, I believe that should be celebrated.

This stage of life should not be causing the symptoms and issues that I not only hear about but see far too often. When you look back in history, women very rarely complained of symptoms like night sweats, hot flushes, or heart palpitations. So, what happened?


A positive thing I believe is that we are able to speak about these issues more openly and freely than was able or even allowed years ago. Women have more freedom and power over their beautiful bodies and have more control over what they will and will not allow.


We also have the opportunity to educate ourselves about our unique body and help loved ones around us understand what is going on too.


The Western World Impact on Menopause


Along with this, our lifestyles have become faster and faster, processed food and the food industry have become all about packaged food being instant, and with that comes lots more chemicals, toxins, and sugar which preserve the food that you are going to eat. However, these also feed inflammation and breed disease, which contributes to damaging the gut and creating imbalances. The clean, wholesome food that is available to us is not anywhere near as nutrient-rich as it used to be as our soils are so over-processed now.


Add into this that technology now defaults to be available 24/7 and is getting faster and more accessible every year, our brains cannot keep up. The environments we find ourselves in can be very stressful and affect our emotional health more than we realize, which could have been going on for a very long time, having a huge impact on our hormone health and affecting our quality of sleep too, all in a negative way.


As much as we are lead to believe that our bodies are sometimes fighting us, I personally do not believe this at all. I hear women speak of fear when they think of menopause because with it, they believe come health symptoms and challenges alongside aging.


Menopause actually slows down the aging process which is at its highest level from puberty through to menopause. At this phase in life, we quite often put more synthetic hormones into our bodies by using methods of birth control as an example.


In those reproductive years, the immune system puts more focus on reproductive organs and less focus on other areas of the body.


Whilst there are exceptions, modern lifestyles are typically led by partying hard, being on gadgets constantly, sleeping with them on and constantly by your side, working long hours or shift work, running a home and raising a family, eating on the go, and never really switching off. All of this contributes to the symptoms and challenges that people are dealing with more and more.


So, is this really caused by menopause? Because there are now women in their late 20s and 30s sharing that they too are struggling with these symptoms that quite often mirror those of menopause.


When we take a look at many of the lifestyle illnesses that are becoming more prevalent, many symptoms like vaginal dryness, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and other symptoms are related to adrenal fatigue, digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s to name a few.


When a woman is classed as peri-menopausal she can be given HRT which may help relieve the symptoms or if honest, mask them. I have worked with clients that have been offered anti-depressants too.


I believe we are all unique and, whether we believe it, or not are an expert on our own beautiful body; only we know what is truly best for us.


So I think it is important to be aware and as fully informed as possible of the options available to you.

Whilst HRT may help with symptoms at the moment, it will in fact prolong the process and slow down the menopause phase.


This is because like other products, the contraceptive pill or coil, for example, you are putting synthetic hormones into your body to try and mimic higher levels of estrogen in the case of HRT. As a lady going into the menopause phase estrogen should naturally be lowering as should progesterone. Not so that it is non-existent but to bring the reproductive phase to an end and actually protect our bodies from issues and illnesses like cancers and osteoporosis.


This is not to say you should not try HRT if you feel it would help you and women certainly should not feel shame for doing so.


HRT works for some ladies and not others. It can work really well alongside alternative therapies, some of which I share here.


As I have said already, we are all very unique. Being well informed is the key here, so you can make the best decision for yourself. After all, you are the expert on your body.


How to Ease Symptoms


There are foods you can include in your diet to help naturally boost estrogen and progesterone and help to keep them at a healthy level.


Things like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds are full of nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, and fiber. Seed cycling is something I highly recommend whether you do not have cycles anymore or do still have periods.


By rotating the seeds and eating them at certain times of your cycle (if you do not have monthly anymore you go with a 30-day cycle) the seeds help to balance the hormonal rhythm. This helps with reducing menopause symptoms and PMS.


If you are interested in giving this a go, I would recommend doing it for a few months as there are never any such things as quick fixes, and hormones are a very complex area.


There are two phases, if you have a cycle go with that and if you no longer have a cycle as I said above go with 30 days and try to go with the moon cycle. Starting day 1 with the new moon.


So for 28-day cycles, you would have phase 1 which are days 1-14 freshly grind 1 tbsp of each, flax and pumpkin seed daily.


Phase 2 days 15-18 freshly grind 1tbsp of each, sunflower and sesame seed daily.


You can mix the seeds with yogurt, sprinkle them on fruit, and salads, add them to granola or porridge or add them to stir-fry’s, stews, and soups.


Phase 1 helps to boost estrogen levels and phase 2 helps to boost progesterone levels. Seed cycling works best when doing it alongside a healthy lifestyle and eating clean, wholesome foods.


This practice will help to balance a sensitive endocrine system that is affected by an overload of toxins and help with detoxification, stress, and sleep.


If you choose not to do the seed cycling, I would recommend eating a variety of seeds daily; purely for the abundance of nutrients, they contain.

Taking herbs like Ashwagandha, which is an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body respond to and manage stress in a healthier and calming way, helping to reduce anxiety. It also helps reduce fatigue and brain fog too.


The food choices we make really do impact how our body performs and responds to the life we choose to lead.


Our gut starts at the mouth and goes all the way down to our anus. This tube is full of bacteria all the way down and the foods we choose to feed these bacteria, some of which produce the hormones that impact our health massively and so are a huge part of our immune system, heart health, and brain health.


When I begin working with my clients and they tell me they are prone to illnesses like osteoporosis now, I have the question why? These kinds of illnesses take years to develop but quite often appear or are diagnosed in this time of life. This leads me back to the choices that have been made along the way and the lifestyle being lived.


I have been asked a few times if I believe we can control any of these things and the answer is, that we have total control, it is our body and we are the decision-maker and captains of our ship.


I work with my clients by taking them back to basics and educating them about how their body is meant to function for them to be the healthiest version they can be.


I believe there are seven principles of living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eating clean, real wholesome foods

  • Prioritizing sleep, 7-9 hours in darkness

  • Breathwork and other mindful practices including gratitude

  • Movement – finding the exercise that suits their individual body

  • Hydration – flushing out those toxins and keeping the body well hydrated

  • Play – doing something you love every single day

  • Daily bowel movements – keeping the gut healthy

If I could give you some tips here, it would be to accept where you are right now and assess your environment and emotional health. Alongside eating well and sleeping, your environment plays a huge role in the health of your gut and hormone health.


Prioritizing sleep is also vitally important, lack of sleep causes so many health issues, your body needs rest and your brain sleeps when you do. The rest of your body is working to take away toxins, and repair and regenerate new cells within the body which is why your food choices really do matter and you really are what you eat.


By having a good sleep routine you are also helping to regulate your hormone production. Other ways to aid a good night’s sleep include:

  • Regular relaxing baths with oils or salts with relaxing music playing in the background and scented candles

  • Switching off phones, tablets, and other electronic devices, including TV’s, a minimum of one hour before going to bed

  • Practice relaxing yoga Nidra in the evening. This is a practice that can be done in bed or on a yoga mat and you will find an abundance of Yoga Nidra sessions on YouTube from 10 mins through to 60 mins to choose from.

  • Read a book you enjoy and can relax with

  • Spend time relaxing with friends or loved ones

  • Allow any food to digest at least two hours before going to bed

  • Journal and get things out of your head, you could also have a note pad at the side of your bed so you can jot down thoughts if your sleep does get interrupted by your brain becoming busy.

  • Drink calming tea like nettle leaf, Chamomile, ginger or raspberry leaf.

  • Have a routine of waking and going to bed at the same time every day

Everything I recommend and share with my clients is what I do and use myself, so I know it works because this is how I live my life.


I am 47, so some may argue I have not fully gone through menopause myself yet. Others remind me that I am perimenopausal myself and do not have any menopause symptoms.

I am happy to share that years ago, during my 30’s, I did have these symptoms, anxiety, bloating, suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, brain fog, vaginal dryness, and feeling very “meh”. Putting the practices I share with my clients and being consistent with them saw all of these symptoms go.


Recently, some of the symptoms reared their head again and although my daily practices of breath work, movement every day, and other principles were in place, I had emotional stress in my personal life which was what caused the imbalance in my gut and affected my sleep.


By really ramping up my self-care and relaxation, resting when my body was asking me to, everything settled down.

There will always be something that can be seen as stress or a problem, so it is important to recognize how your body communicates with you and learn to respond rather than react, which I know is sometimes easier said than done.


The beauty of this is though, that we get to choose which path we want to travel. It does not really matter what others say or what they think, your choices impact you and no one else. So I encourage you to learn about your unique body, what serves you and what drains you; and live your life on your terms.

I saw this quote a few weeks ago from Bhawna Gautam:


“Hurdles are not meant to stop you but take you to new heights.”

So be you, do you, for you, living true to yourself and no one else.


In summary, Menopause is a phase in a woman’s life that cannot be avoided; however, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience.


I have shared recommendations and education, which I hope have given value to you, and recommend trying some of the things I have shared. If you would like to go more in-depth with this, then feel free to contact me at amanda@purposefullynourished.com


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn for more info!


 

Amanda Whitehead, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Amanda Whitehead is a Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. After reversing her own lifestyle illnesses, which were irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid imbalances, and a sluggish liver, she has supported and educated hundreds of women to understand how their body functions, the importance of nutrition, and a healthy mindset. Creating a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and empowering them to become an expert in their unique selves.


This has enabled them to heal from issues like anxiety and depression, gut health and digestive issues, reversing diabetes type two as well as helping to heal skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis too. Her mission is to change the way mental health is approached and see the person as a whole, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual being.


She is the proud founder of Purposefully Nourished, a system used to educate her clients on the mind, body, skin, and gut connection, a one-to-one program that achieves life-changing results and a sustainable way of living.

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