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Is it hot in here, or it is just me?

This post is NOT just for my female readers, because we all have women in our lives and understanding the hormonal ride women experience will make the journey so much better for everyone.



 

Perimenopause and Menopause Explained.

Did you know that 50% of women and probably most men don't know the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Menopause is really only one day- 365 days after your last period.

But, perimenopause begins for all women around the age of 35 and it's not a diagnosable condition - it's a long transition.

It's really our reverse puberty and lasts a really long period of time.

What's Actually Happening?

The Hand-off.

The role of our main sex hormones are being passed from the ovaries to the adrenals - the Stress Managers. As a women's body reaches menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and estrogen production is then solely relegated to the adrenal glands. Unfortunately, in perimenopause it's common to experience hormonal imbalances which is a recipe for dysregulation that brings along many troubling symptoms.

Common Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms:

  • Frequent feelings of frustration or anger

  • Hair loss

  • Intolerance to cold

  • Lack of mental focus

  • Weight gain around mid-section

  • Feelings of overwhelm

  • Frequent infections

  • Decreased energy levels

  • Difficulty coping with stressful situations

  • Acne

  • Salt cravings

  • Low blood pressure

  • Lightheadedness on standing

  • Anxiety, mild depression

  • Waking at night

  • Slow starting in the morning

  • Constantly feeli tired, despite getting enough sleep


Adrenal Overload.

When this hormonal hand-off begins, it can put an extra burden on the adrenal glands which when stressed produce cortisol and hormones in response. This has the potential to result in adrenal fatigue and produces syptoms that are similar to what the body is already struggling with;

  • Mood swings, irritability

  • Increased PMS

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Heaving bleeding

  • Headaches

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Decrease libido

  • Irregular periods

  • Hot flashes, night sweats

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Skin changes

  • Dry eyes

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Heart palpitations

  • Joint pain/stiffness

  • Breast tenderness, cysts, nipple discharge

When other factors in life also come into play during this transition, the body's response becomes stunted and the stress response to all of these symptoms takes over and pushes aside the call for sex hormone production. This then leads to hormonal imbalances. These current or built up stressors deplete the adrenal glands and inhibit their ability to boost sex hormones.

As a result, adrenal fatigue can worsen a women's perimenopause/menopause symptoms.

Estrogen & Progesterone.

During perimenopause the hormones begin to decrease, especially estrogen and progesterone which are the key players in perimenopause. They are symbiotic in nature which means if there's not enough estrogen, then there's too much progesterone and vice versa.

This struggle the body experiences to keep homeostasis-[balance] increases the stressors.

In addition to this extra load to the adrenals, women are also dealing with the effects of the modern lifestyle; poor sleep, lack of daily movement, low quality diet high in sugar and starches, blue light from an abundance of screen-time.


When blood sugar levels are high, progesterone is low.

Pay Attention to Blood Sugar Levels.

I haven't changed anything but my weight keeps climbing!

Do you resonate with this statement?

Weight gain is one of the most frustrating and confusing problems experienced during this season. By balancing blood sugar and insulin levels, weight gain can be managed well. The changes in hormones creates an environment where weight gain is usual. But by addressing blood sugar levels and spikes throughout the day, many of these troubling symptoms can be effectively managed.

Adequate levels of estrogen are necessary because it supports insulin sensitivity. During perimenopause/ menopause when estrogen levels begin to diminish, there's a risk factor for developing insulin resistance. This can increase the symptoms of perimenopause/ menopause.

What Can I Do?

1.Balance Your Plate.

Choose quality proteins found in meat, eggs, organic grass-fed dairy, nuts and seeds, increase fiber-rich vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, butter or ghee, avocados,and olives.

2. Avoid Processed Foods.

Foods that are highly processed contain inflammatory oils, added sugars and ingredients that our body struggles to digest. These foods can cause an inflammatory reaction which keeps the body in an inflammed state where we aren't able to heal and the hormonal chaos we are experiencing becomes even more difficult.

3. Build Muscle.

Muscle mass declines in women beginning around the age of 40, so it's important to work on building muscle. Muscle tissue plays a significant role in managing blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity. Muscle tissue is a major regulator of glucose balance. This protective effect of increasing muscle mass to balance blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity is one of the most effect ways to manage blood sugar and help to decrease the symptoms in both perimenopause/ menopause.

4. Support Gut Health.

Gut health is linked to every aspect of our health outcomes because addressing any underlying gut problems is key to addressing both blood sugar and insulin resistance. When our gut is functioning well, we will have less perimenopause/menopause symptoms. Building the diet around a variety of fiber-rich foods like vegetable, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds will build a healthy gut microbiome.

5. Guard Sleep.

Sleep is vital to address perimenopause/menopause symptoms. Decreased sleep is a risk factor as well for blood sugar levels. The body loves routine, so finding a regular sleep and wake time will improve symptoms.

6. Support Your Circadian Rhythm.

Our ancestors followed the cycle of rising with the sun and sleeping when it became dark. This cycle called the circadian rhythm - a natural cycle of physical, mental and behavior changes that the body goes through in a 24-hour cycle. These 'rhythms' are affected by light and dark which are controlled by our brain. When this system becomes disregulated - a common problem in our modern world, we experience foggy brain, daytime sleepiness, weight gain, lower mood and problems making decisions and poorer memory. Melatonin is the hormone critical for circadian synchronization so paying attention to when we wake and sleep is essential in supporting optimal hormonal regulation.

These symptoms of disrupted sleep, daytime grogginess and general fatigue are also part of the poorly regulated hormonal chaos that perimenopause/menopause brings.

The most profound way to support circadian rhythm is paying attention to light and dark.
  1. Wake with the sun and go outside for at least 15-30 minutes enjoying the light without sunglasses.

  2. Take a short walk outside around 1-3 pm in the afternoon to catch another brief spike of melatonin to help reset your clock.

  3. Try blue light blocking glasses when the sun sets to reduce the stimulating effects of all the blue light our brain receives after dark.

  4. Turn off screens 30 minutes before bedtime.

  5. Find a regular wake/sleep routins. Ideally; bedtime- 10pm, wake- 6 am.

These simple practices can support better sleep, hormonal health, blood sugar and insulin regulation, weight management, boosted mood and an improvement in all health outcomes.

7. Take Magnesium Daily.

Magnesium deficiency is a significant contributor to poor sleep, sugar cravings, and increased inflammation. Taking magnesium glycinate can improve insulin resistance, bone health, reduced migraines, sleep, diabetes, anxiety, blood pressure, heart health, osteoporosis, depression, muscle cramps, nerve function, mood and will improve perimenopause/menopause symptoms as well.

8. Pull Back on Fitness.

This might be surprising, but it's common for many women to pursue high intensity workouts, weight lifting and adding more exercise to address these symptoms. Why? because that's what we've been told! I'm here to offer perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I believe it's so important to women's health during this hormonal transition.

Fitness is for luxury bodies.

Before we pursue more fitness practices, we need to pursue functional movement.

When women experience the hormonal shifts during perimenopause/ menopause, this creates a greater energy demand than what the body can handle.

All of the work pursuing more and greater fitness practices with a body that's struggling hormonally is a huge waste of time.

Pulling back on fitness and pursuing functional movement will realize the best long-term outcomes. When our body is hormanlly stable and we've put into practice these suggestions, then it's time to pursue a more robust fitness routine.

Most women are experiencing depletion, and doing more continues this damaging process with continued troubling symptoms. These bodies cannot receive the benefits from working out yet.

So take a time-out and focus on healing that includes daily functional movement.

Ask Yourself.

  • Am I walking everyday?

  • Am I getting in 7,000 - 10,000 steps daily?

  • Am I stretching and expanding my body as it requires?

All of these things prepare the body for higher things when it's ready.

That's the most important part of the healing process along with;

  • eating well regularly

  • cutting out the inflammatory foods

  • limiting or eliminating alcohol, processed sugars and starches

  • watch out for genetically modified soy & corn products

  • be mindful of dairy, choosing organic, grass-fed

Today, I encourage you to consider your relationship with what's going on in your body and what you are trying to do to support feeling better?

Managing the stressors is vital for the long view in healing well.

Supporting our body so that it can deliver all the energy it has requires a time of healing and rest - things women generally are not good at doing.

Breathe deeply and slow down.

Life is not a sprint to the finish line, but a focused walk forward.

Maybe you need a nap?

A chance to connect with others?

I'd love to help you find ways to move forward.

You can find me here; https://www.janlindquistntp.com

Thanks for reading,

Jan



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