Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stop the Symptoms of Menopause

Are you one of the 40 million American women going through menopause? If so, the good news is you can sail through this transition feeling great if you take the appropriate measures now. Yes- there are lifestyle tips that you can apply immediately.

Did you know... that some foods can strengthen and energize you while other foods can trigger menopausal symptoms? ...that stress management and an exercise program can help you prevent, or even eliminate symptoms? ... that vitamins, minerals and herbs can make a menopause difference?

The average age of women reaching menopause is 51. Based on life expectancy trends, women face the prospect of spending one-third of their lives in a state of hormonal imbalance!

As the amount of naturally produced progesterone and estrogen declines, a wide range of debilitating menopausal symptoms can occur, such as:

  • hot flashes
  • skin changes
  • mood swings
  • sleep disturbance
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • forgetfulness
  • decreased energy

Menopause can cause other problems too. Decreased libido, along with vaginal dryness and thinning, which makes intercourse painful, puts an additional strain on even the best of relationships. Other symptoms are, potentially deadly, 'silent killers'. Osteoporosis affects one in three women during this stage of life. Cholesterol levels increase dramatically. The result is that heart disease has become a leading killer of women over age 50.

Yet, there is good news too! You can sail through this transition with a minimum amount of trouble if you just take some appropriate measures now. Best of all, it's never too late to start.

In this article, you'll discover lifestyle tips that you can apply immediately...

  • which foods to eat that will strengthen and energize you.
  • which foods to avoid because they can trigger symptoms.
  • which vitamins, minerals, and herbs to take in order to prevent, or even eliminate symptoms.
  • you will also get the 'lowdown' on hormone replacement therapy.

Lifestyle Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Life

Get Some Exercise
Stay active. Exercise helps to increase blood circulation to the skin, keeping it soft, supple and moist. It also helps to reduce mood swings, wards off depression, provides you with a deeper, more restful sleep, and it boosts your cardiovascular health.

Use Relaxation Techniques to Combat Stress
Since a woman's mid-to-late forties and fifties are typically a period marked by change, life can seem even more stressful. Worries crop up about caring for aging parents, concerns about your health, and having decreased energy and vitality. Using mental relaxation techniques, doing yoga, getting a massage, or just taking a warm bath can help you manage your response to stress.

Stop Smoking
Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

Good Food To Include -- "Trigger" Foods To Avoid

  • Include foods rich in phytoestrogens in your diet. Phyto, or plant, estrogens travel to the estrogen receptor sites and activate estrogen-dependent activities. They have a gentle, balancing effect on your system. Soybeans, soymilk, soy nuts, tofu, tempeh, miso, fennel, and alfalfa are rich sources of phytoestrogens.
  • Reduce your intake of animal protein. Too much animal protein can overwork your kidneys and leech calcium from your bones, increasing your chances of developing osteoporosis.

How much is too much? The answer isn't definitive. As a good rule of thumb, vary your sources of protein by including some vegetable sources of protein, including beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, and soy.
  • Get more fiber in your diet. For optimal fiber, increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and legumes. They provide valuable phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that are powerful antioxidants. Adding soluble fiber, such as apples, beans, lentils, oats can help lower your blood cholesterol, while insoluble fiber can help keep you regular.
  • Increase your intake of essential fatty acids (EFA). One tablespoon of flaxseed oil, a rich source of EFA, can do wonders for your skin and helps to protect against vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Plus, EFAs are an integral part of all cell membranes and are the precursors to prostaglandins, which are hormone-like chemicals that regulate cellular activities and balance hormones.
  • Increase your consumption of fatty fish. Rich in omega-3's, they help to protect you against heart disease. They help to prevent blood clots, inhibit inflammation in the vessel walls and promote a regular cardiac rhythm. Mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, and salmon are all good sources.
  • Go nuts. Eat more nuts and seeds. Rich in vitamin E, this helps to regulate estrogen levels and protect against hot flashes.
  • Include more calcium-rich foods. Things such as green-leafy vegetables, calcium fortified soymilk, cheese and milk, helps to protect your bones and heart health.
  • Limit sugar, refined flour, and alcohol. They can trigger hot flashes. Plus, they can add to your waistline as they provide a lot of calories and little in the way of nutrients. Although evidence suggests that moderate wine consumption offer some protection for the heart, too much alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer and is a contributing factor to osteoporosis.
  • Go light on salty foods. Too much sodium in the diet can result in calcium loss from the bones.
  • Keep the caffeine to a minimum. Too much caffeine stresses the adrenal glands, acts as a diuretic leading to a loss of potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins B and C and water. It can increase anxiety, irritability, mood swings and even the
  • Graze don't gobble. Eating mini-meals three hours apart will help you regulate your blood sugar, helping to protect against mood swings.
  • Cut back on hot spices. Curried chicken or hot tamales may taste good, but they can trigger hot flashes.
  • Drink plenty of water. Carry a water bottle with you. Make sure to have at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day- that's 64 ounces or 2 quarts! Drinking that much water can help you reduce wrinkles, relieve constipation, reduce lower backaches, fill up so you eat less, and protect the mucous membranes in your vagina from drying out.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs to Help You
Prevent, Ease, or Even Eliminate the Worst Menopausal Symptoms
To help you sail through menopause with minimal discomfort, there are a host of natural nutrients that can ease your transition. The lifestyle tips along with these nutrients will help to ease the symptoms and even provide the missing 'ingredients' your body needs to enhance your sense of wellbeing during this time.

  • Bioflavonoids (bilberry, quercetin, green tea, grape seed, and grape skin) powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. They help to protect blood vessels and reduce blood platelet aggregation (acting as natural blood thinners). Because of their ability to strengthen capillaries, they reduce the occurrence of hot flashes. They strengthen and maintain collagen, which helps the skin to maintain its elasticity and smoothness, which may decrease wrinkles.
  • Bee pollen. This nutrient helps to reduce hot flashes, plus gives you an energy boost.
  • Black cohosh. This herb has weak estrogenic effects, reducing the number, severity, and frequency of hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, nervousness, irritability, heart palpitations and headaches. Now you know why it has been used consistently in Germany since 1930!
  • Calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron. This combination of nutrients support bone health. Calcium and magnesium have an added benefit: they help to protect against heart disease.
  • CoEnzyme Q10. This powerful antioxidant protects the body against dangerous free radicals. It helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the occurrence of heart disease.
  • Dong quai. Because of it's balancing effect on hormones, this herb, commonly referred to as the female ginseng, helps to protect against cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. In combination with other herbs, it helps to reduce hot flashes.
  • Soy isoflavones and red clover. Their antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties help to reduce the incidence of hot flashes, heart disease, hormone-dependent cancers, tumor growth and vaginal dryness. They protect against bone loss, and enhance mental function. Research studies indicate that women in Asia who consumed about 55g of soy a day (which is what they typically consume) exhibited a 60% lower risk of breast cancer. Additionally, only about 15% of these women report hot flashes compared to 85% in the U.S.
  • B Vitamins. They are important for liver function in order to detoxify excess hormones. One B vitamin, B6, is particularly helpful in improving your mood, as it plays a critical role in the manufacture of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to ease depression. An insufficiency of B6 may also cause insomnia and irritability.
  • Vitamin C. This water-soluble antioxidant decreases the rate of LDL oxidation and so may reduce the risk of heart disease. It helps to form collagen, the protein vital to keeping skin, blood vessels and bones intact, thereby helping to maintain skin integrity and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. It also helps to relieve hot flashes.
  • Vitamin E. The considerable reputation for vitamin E in alleviating hot flashes comes from studies as far back as 1945. This fat-soluble antioxidant helps to protect your heart, eases hot flashes, and alleviates vaginal dryness.
  • Natural progesterone cream helps to relieve many menopausal symptoms and helps to balance the effects of estrogen on the uterus. It helps to increase libido, normalize blood sugar, and may have a positive effect on bone building.
  • Milk thistle seed extract. This powerful antioxidant scavenges free radicals that can damage liver cells. Silymarin, the active component, helps protect against toxic chemicals entering the liver, removes toxins from the liver cells, and stimulates the liver to regenerate injured cells, as well as build new cells. Milk thistle also inhibits the depletion of glutathione; one of the liver's most important antioxidant enzymes. By maintaining optimal liver function, milk thistle helps your body produce energy more efficiently, enhancing your overall vitality.
  • PhosphatidylCholine (PC). This nutrient is the basic building block of the membranes of every cell in the body. It helps the liver perform many of its functions. By enabling the liver to convert estradiol (the strongest form of estrogen) to estriol (a more beneficial form of estrogen) helps alleviate many estrogen-related problems. Keep in mind that during the peri-menopausal years, your estrogen levels start to dwindle. It's important during this time of life to maintain a healthy liver to effectively convert whatever estradiol that's produced by the ovaries, to its weakest form.
  • PC also helps to lower plasma homocysteine levels, which, when elevated can increase your risk of heart disease. It helps the body make acetylcholine, one of its most important chemical messengers essential for helping the liver process fats. When the liver's ability to process fats is impeded, cholesterol and trigylcerides accumulate in the liver, which can lead to liver disease if left untreated. PC also helps the liver eliminate toxins accumulated as the result of exposure to chemical agents in air, water, food, the environment, and drugs.
  • Schizandra berry. This powerful antioxidant benefits the entire body, including the liver. Scientists have discovered that the active ingredient, schizandrin, promotes regeneration of the liver. It also is a great energy tonic.

The "Lowdown" On Hormone Replacement Therapy
Women are prescribed conventional ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) or HRT (estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy) to alleviate hot flashes and vaginal dryness, as well as to prevent osteoporosis and heart disease. It sounds like a miracle since it offers so many benefits. Yet, there can be many side effects.

Firstly, ERT and HRT are synthetic hormones, meaning they do not match the type of circulating hormones that your body produces. Since the molecular structure of synthetic hormones is different from hormones naturally produced by the body, they have different effects inside you. Synthetic progestin, for example, cuts down the body's production of it's own progesterone. Bio-identical progesterone, or natural progesterone, on the other hand, encourages the body to continue to produce progesterone, as it adds progesterone to your body.

This means that synthetic hormones can cause symptoms such as, breast tenderness, swollen legs and feet, and weight gain caused by fluid retention (estrogen decreases the amount of sodium and water excreted by the kidneys).

HRT also decreases vitamin B6 stores, which may contribute to depression, irritability, insomnia, fatigue and the inability to concentrate. Some women experience nausea, migraines, insomnia, increased incidence of gallbladder disease and many other problems. When ERT is taken alone, an increased incidence of breast and uterine cancer has been reported.

What should you do? Discuss the natural alternatives, like those listed in this article, with your doctor.
No longer will you have to endure the symptoms of menopause.
Natural, healthy alternatives can provide the solution.


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