Menopause. It’s a word that most women dread to hear. But it is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle, and like it or not, all women will experience the physical and emotional symptoms that accompany this ‘change of life’. While some women will pass through menopause relatively easily, most will be visited by a series of unpleasant symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep irregularities, mood swings, depression and the loss of libido. The onset of menopause is also accompanied by a loss of bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis.
Conventional medicine has a long history of treating the symptoms of menopause with drugs and synthetic hormone injections. Recent studies, however, have shown that these therapies present an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Many women are now looking for alternative treatments to help them manage their menopausal symptoms. These natural therapies offer a relief from the persistent manifestations of menopause, without the risks and side effects associated with conventional chemical treatments.
Managing Your Menopause through Diet
Diet can be a powerful tool in managing the symptoms of menopause. Foods that are high in caffeine should be avoided, as should foods that contain large amounts of refined sugar and salt. These can all lead to high blood pressure, and can play a part in the onset of osteoporosis. Whenever possible, replace sugary soft drinks and coffee with water, herbal teas or fresh squeezed vegetable juice. Menopausal women should also reduce their intake of foods that are high in saturated fats, including highly processed grains, chocolate, butter, cream and processed meat products. Saturated fats inhibit the body’s ability to metabolize estrogen, and it is important to help the body utilize its hormonal output optimally.
In addition to eliminating certain foods, menopausal women need to begin adding additional nutrients to their diet. Foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed and fresh vegetables, can help to maintain bone density and healthy cholesterol levels. Phytoestrogens can also help to reduce the overall symptoms of menopause, and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Foods that provide good levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and collard greens should also be added to the diet. Recent studies have shown that menopausal women who added omega-3 fatty acids to their diet experience fewer instances of hot flashes, fatigue and depression.
Exercise and Menopause
Many menopausal women experience unwanted weight gain, mood swings and sleep disturbances. Regular exercise can help to manage all of these common symptoms, in addition to strengthening the core of the body and helping to fight osteoporosis. Regular sessions of resistance training and aerobic exercises help to maintain a healthy bone density, as well as greatly benefiting the cardiovascular system. A regular exercise routine can help menopausal women maintain a healthy weight, combat depression and enjoy more restful sleep.
Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
Conventional medicine often treats menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). While this does offer relief to many women, the side effect can far outweigh the results. HRT uses synthetic hormone compounds to replace those that are deficient in a menopausal woman’s body. These synthetic hormones can lead to an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer, an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and an increased risk of gallbladder disease.
Many menopausal women are now turning to Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). BHRT differs from conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy in that the hormone supplements are engineered to have an identical molecular signature to the naturally occurring hormones produced by a woman’s own body. Subsequently, these bio-identical hormones are easier to metabolize, and are recognized by the body as naturally occurring secretions. The patient’s body more readily accepts the bio-identical hormone, and its immune system does not go into overdrive attempting to ward of what it perceives as an invading force. Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy offers relief to many menopausal women with symptoms that cannot be managed through diet and exercise alone.
Women passing through menopause know just how unrelenting the symptoms can seem. But with sensible dietary changes, nutritional supplements and regular exercise women can experience this change of life free of many of the more debilitating symptoms. With God’s grace, and a regimen of natural therapy, women can begin preparing for the next stage in life’s adventure.