“Sorry… I can’t go for that spa trip. It is the time of the month”. I am sure every one of us women out there have felt frustrated at the inconveniences of our menstrual cycle at some point in our lives. However, once you get to the stage of your life when it is gone, it is gone. You enter what is known as menopause and yes, there are physical and emotional challenges that come with it but if managed well, it can be an exciting new stage of your life!
The average woman will start experiencing the symptoms of menopause in their late 40s to early 50s. Some of the common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, slower metabolism and weight gain. Fret not though; if you are going through menopause right now or will soon be, read on to learn the simple and easy lifestyle changes that you can adopt right away for a happier healthier menopause.
Daily Routine Changes for Menopause
1. Get Moving! Exercise!
Keep up with your activity levels as much as you can. For example, if you are still working, take every opportunity you have when commuting or at work to walk. If you are retired, keep busy around the house or your garden.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to exercise. At least once a week, go for a jog or go swimming. These are all really fun social activities that you can do with your girlfriends! Exercise will help keep your body in shape, prevent and reduce unwanted belly fat due to the slowing down of your body’s metabolism rate. Do a combination of both resistance and cardio exercise at least a couple of times a week if your schedule allows. Resistance training like weight lifting helps build and maintain muscle and bone mass to keep osteoporosis at bay. Cardio exercises are essential for a healthy heart. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go overboard with these exercises in order to benefit from it. You are not trying to become the next top female athlete. Just have fun with it while keeping your body strong and healthy. [1, 2]
While it is important to keep moving, adequate rest and sleep are also critical for a healthy menopause. If you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones get disrupted and that can have an undesirable effect on your weight gain.
Start cultivating a regular sleep pattern to help you prepare for this important phase of your life. Try to go to bed at the same time each day and aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Studies have shown that people who slept 8-9 hours per night can weigh up to 11% less than those who get less than 5 hours or more than 11 hours per night. 
Below are some easy adjustments that you can make to make it easier for you to go to sleep at night.
- Avoid coffee or food high in caffeine such as chocolate or caffeinated tea in the evening
- Avoid screen time at least 1 to 2 hours before your scheduled bedtime. Put your phone or iPad down for a good old novel instead.
- Wear loose comfortable clothing after your evening shower to help you relax.
- Have a lighter dinner that is both smaller in portion and also lighter on spices.
- Turn on your ambient lighting at home (if you have) or consider adding some.
Ensuring that your body has enough melatonin at night also helps with a good night sleep. If you live in an area that has ample sunshine most days of the year, aim to spend time outdoors during the day to help your body produce melatonin at night. If you do not have that access to ample sunshine during the day most days of the year, consider taking a melatonin supplement. I particularly like the natural supplement called Melatonin SRT™ that can help to restore your body’s circadian rhythm and provide more restful sleep and hormonal balance my body needs. [4,5]
3. You come first. Manage your stressors.
Exercise and ample sleep will both help your body deal with the daily stressors in your life better. Always remember, you come first. Love yourself first.
Learn how to set aside time just for yourself each day to chill out to help keep your stress hormones down. Higher cortisol levels (i.e. those nasty stress hormones) can cause undesirable increases in your appetite and provoke unhealthy cravings, all of which can put you at a greater risk of unhealthy weight gain. The heightened estrogen levels caused by stress also increase your body’s tendency to store fat, especially around the midsection. You really don’t want any of that.
So try different things to help yourself relax. Do things that you enjoy and learn to say “no” to things that you don’t. Find a hobby. Try yoga, meditation or taking leisure walks.
4. Quit smoking
Whether you are an avid smoker or just a social smoker, quit smoking right now or at least start a plan to quit. In addition to an increased risk of heart disease, lung disease, cancer, osteoporosis and accelerated aging, the direct negative impacts of smoking on menopause are very real as well. Nicotine has profound effects on your body’s hormonal balance and imbalanced hormones worsen all the nasty symptoms of menopause. Quitting smoking is a long journey; start as early as you can.
Healthy Diet Changes for Menopause
1. Detox. Help your liver.
As mentioned earlier, hormonal imbalances during menopause can put you at an elevated risk of weight gain. Coupled with a bad diet, toxins can start to accumulate in your body and inhibit your liver’s ability to detoxify efficiently and effectively, allowing more toxins to accumulate in your body, especially your fat cells. Sounds scary? It is! Click here to learn more about Understanding Menopause and Weight Gain.
Consider a detox program to boost your body’s natural ability to detoxify itself. Check out this easy 14-day detox program to get started on your weight loss effort. Start eating cleaner with a more plant-based diet, that is prepared more gently (i.e. avoid deep fried and heavily grilled foods) to retain more of the nutrients from the foods that you are eating.
Diet adjustments are never easy. So start small like switching out one meal a day for a salad or a healthy smoothie and go from there. Check out my yummy hormonal detox smoothie recipe below. Choose the vegetables and fruits that you love most to make your diet changes sustainable. Click https://nutritionkey.com/diet-tips-hormonal-balance/here for my article about “12 Diet Tips for Hormonal Balance.”
Click here for my “Healthy Hormone Detox Smoothie recipe.”
Find more on How to Lose Weight During Menopause here.
2. Avoid alcohol
As you age, your body becomes more sensitive to the effects of alcohol because our cartilage and tendons lose water as you age. Your body holds less water than it used to thus reducing its ability to dilute alcohol like it used to. Your body becomes more susceptible to the side effects of alcohol consumption. The heightened heart rate also worsens menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia.
3. Supplements for your diet
Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to give your body a helping hand in getting the ample amount of nutrients by adding some essential supplements to your daily diet. Having enough of and the right balance of nutrients in your system are both very important in managing your hormonal changes and balance. Remember how scary hormonal imbalances are? They can put you at a greater risk for osteoporosis! 3 key vitamins and minerals together help maintain strong healthy bones – (1) calcium, (2) vitamin D and (3) magnesium.
Your body can make natural vitamin D from sunshine. If you are not living in an area that gets ample sunshine all year round, consider taking a vitamin D supplement to help your body absorb the calcium that you might already be consuming in your daily diet. Some studies have suggested that having enough vitamin D in your body can help to ease hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Vitamin D has also been shown to be effective at improving estrogen metabolism and decreasing estrogen-related cancer risks.
Although the official recommended daily dose is only 600 international units for most people, I recommend getting 1,000 to 2,000 international units of vitamin D a day. I personally really like the OsteoForce™ Supreme supplement for healthy bones. This supplement has the right combination of calcium, magnesium and other minerals for better utilization and absorption.
To know if what your vitamin D levels are on track, you can always have your healthcare practitioner check your levels at your annual health exam and have a regular bone density test to make sure everything is on the right track.
Melatonin is also a very powerful antioxidant which acts as a free radical scavenger. It reduces oxidation and inflammation thus improving risk factors for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and other potential menopausal conditions.
As a supplement, as mentioned above, melatonin is useful for restoring the body’s circadian rhythm, regulating sleep and making it ideal for jet lag. I suggest taking Melatonin SRT™ two hours before bedtime to help restore and maintain the hormonal balance the body needs. Melatonin also supports a healthy immune and stress response.
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Other natural therapies for an easier menopause
1. Essential Oils for hormonal balance
If you are into essential oils and aromatherapy, this section is for you. Essential oils can be very effective and powerful if used correctly. As with any remedies, always check with a qualified practitioner first before starting something new, especially if you are pregnant or managing a health condition.
Depending on which qualified practitioner you talk to, they can recommend slightly different combinations of essential oils for hormonal balance. Below are just a few that are more commonly recommended and more readily available.
- Ylang Ylang
Click here to learn more about Natural Simple Approaches to Menopause.
Acupuncture can be a safe and gentle way to deal with menopausal symptoms and to get hormonal balance. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, bodily aches and pains and thereby promote better sleep
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique where tiny little sterile needles are inserted strategically through your skin at very specific points on the body to promote the flow of oxygen throughout your body. The proper flow of oxygen is critical to all other essential functions in your body.
As you can see, there are many different things that can be done to make your menopause journey a happier and healthier one. For more information or help with managing menopause transition, please contact me at Nutrition Key.
3. Natural Supplements for managing menopause symptoms
Black Cohosh for Menopause
One of my favorite natural remedies to recommend to my patients at the start of menopause is black cohosh. This well-known Native American herb has been used since the early ages and has been shown in many studies to have certain components that act like estrogen in the brain. It is therefore highly beneficial in reducing the symptoms associated with a lack of estrogen.
Natural Menopause Supplements
Another good natural supplement that helps with menopausal symptoms is chasteberry also known as vitex. Chasteberry extract acts on the pituitary gland to regulate estrogen, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone, and prolactin and can treat hormonal imbalance issues caused by not only menopause but also premenstrual syndrome, cyclical breast pain, polycystic ovary disease and uterine fibroids.
My all-time favorite supplement to recommend is FemGuard + Balance™. It is a perfect hormonal balancing combination supplement including black cohosh, chaste tree extract, calcium, magnesium and more.
CONTACT ME to help ease any issues or roadblocks holding you back from getting the results you deserve and stopping you from feeling your very best.
1. Dose-effect of cardiorespiratory exercise on metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.
2. Effects of aerobic or combined aerobic resistance exercise on body composition in overweight and obese adults: gender differences.
3. Alterations in sleep architecture in response to experimental sleep curtailment are associated with signs of positive energy balance.
4. Sleep, Melatonin, and the Menopausal Transition: What Are the Links?
5. Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects.