March 16, 2021
Pause the suffering
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
Menopause could spell freedom and liberation for women given they take the natural course
Menopause wisdom is almost like a family heirloom passed on from one mother to her daughter and so on and so forth. Women spend most of their 40s dreading the 50s and the horror stories attached to it. While some don’t feel a thing at all, a lot many get hit with either panic attacks or palpitations, hot flashes or insomnia due to night sweats or just aches and pains in their menopause. The fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone in their bodies play havoc and they know of not many solutions for the chaos going on in their mind and body besides the infamous hormone replacement therapy. What they do not realise is that their suffering is not preordained but a result of wrong choices. Their bodies are not flawed, their lifestyle is. And so is the environment.
Estrogens at play
An increasing number of young girls and women suffer from the vicissitudes of a toxic food environment filled with sugar and fats that promote obesity, cause a spike in circulating estrogens, and lead to early puberty (8-year-olds in many cases). Our industrial environment, filled with xenotoxic estrogens, disturbs normal hormonal cycles and stimulates pre-mature development. Why blame women or medicalise their grievances then? To think that women have to dwindle, shrivel, and lose emotional, physical, and sexual vitality is a burdensome prophecy. Why not look inward at the ways our culture and our environment create imbalance and illness. Why not revisit the gaps in diet and nutrition when it comes to women’s well-being?
Food is medicine
The influence of diet on hormone balance is vast and includes the differential effects of specific types of carbohydrates and fats, amino acids, and fiber and gut flora, as well as micronutrient effects on hormone synthesis, metabolism, and detoxification. Anti-nutrients—non-nutritive substances in our food supply, including xenobiotics and antibiotics—have powerful effects on hormone function. How do you counter that? By eating plenty of fiber from vegetables and flax seeds daily, consuming Phytoestrogens and healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and good quality oils like olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil at each meal. Keeping blood sugar balanced with ample protein at each meal and minimizing empty calories are other important steps. Hormonal changes during menopause can cause bones to weaken, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are linked to good bone health, so it’s important to get enough of these nutrients in your diet.
Heal with herbs
Dig out wealth from granny’s apothecary to soothe your frayed nerves. Botanical medicines can be a mild, effective alternative to hormones and other complicated drugs. One of the most popular herbs in Europe for the relief of menopausal symptoms, black cohosh is most effective for the relief of hot flashes. Passion flower and motherwort, on the other hand, work brilliantly to ease emotional irritability and anxiety related to hormonal changes. In countries such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom herbs are considered part of standard medical care, while integrative doctors in the US are increasingly recommending their use because of studies showing their safety and effectiveness.
Menopause is natural. Don’t fear it. Face it and fight its severity.
- Lee JM, Appugliese D, Kaciroti N, Corwyn RF, Bradley RH, Lumeng JC. Weight sta- tus in young girls and the onset of puberty. Pediatrics. 2007;119(3):e624-e630.
- Massart F, Parrino R, Seppia P, Federico G, Saggese G. How do environmental estrogen disruptors induce precocious puberty? Minerva Pediatr. 2006;58(3):247- 254. Review.