B is for bone health

Bone loss accelerates during and after menopause for about five to seven years. It's vital to take care of your bone health in menopause.

Normal bone loss accelerates during and after menopause for about five to seven years. You can lose as much as 35 percent of your bone density during those few, short years…many people have weak bones and don’t even know it! Hormone imbalance, due to low levels of progesterone, over-acidic diet, nutrient deficiencies, smoking, excess alcohol, and sedentary behaviour are common osteoporosis risk factors. The good news is that there’s lots you can do. Healthy progesterone levels are vital and a healthy diet that includes calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium, an organic progesterone cream and regular weight-bearing exercise also help to support bone health.

What is bone?

Bone is a living substance that contains blood vessels, nerves, and cells. There are two types of cells that control your bone structure:

▪ Osteoblasts – cells that build your bones

▪ Osteoclasts – cells that break down old or damaged bone to make room for new bone

Strong bones protect your heart, lungs, and brain from injury.

4 Steps to Help Protect Your Bones in Menopause

One of the best ways to achieve bone health in menopause (or any other time) is a diet rich in fresh, raw whole foods. In addition, you need healthy sun exposure along with regular, weight-bearing exercise:

  • Optimise your vitamin D3 either from natural sunlight exposure, a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Check your blood levels regularly to make sure you’re within the optimal range.
  • Optimise your vitamin K1 through a combination of dietary sources (leafy green vegetables, fermented foods like natto, raw milk cheeses, etc.) and a K2 supplement, if needed.
  • Make sure you do weight-bearing exercises.
  • Consume a wide variety of fresh, local, organic whole foods, including vegetables, nuts, seeds, organic meats and eggs, and raw organic unpasteurised dairy for calcium and other nutrients. The more of your diet you consume RAW, the better nourished you will be. Minimise sugar and refined grains.

N.B. Osteoporosis Drugs

Contrary to what you’ve been told, most osteoporosis drugs actually weaken your bones. Bisphosphonate bone drugs impact your normal bone repair process by killing off your osteoclasts, and do make your bones denser, but because the osteoclasts are killed the bone is actually weaker as it is not remodelled properly.

AND REMEMBER!…it’s never too late to start! 

A-Z of menopause: A is for anxiety…

We were inspired by a recent blog to write a an A-Z of menopause – Thanks Simply Ceremonies. It’s such a wide ranging subject so there’s lots to learn. Keep coming back as we work our way through the alphabet. Let us know if there’s a subject you’d like us to tackle by emailing us at info@menopausematters.guru

A is for anxiety

One of the most common symptoms of the menopause is anxiety.  Worry, tension and fear have a really negative effect so it makes sense to reduce them as soon as possible.  If you have felt more anxious than usual try these 5 ways to alleviate it

1. Meditation – Calm your mind by developing a meditation habit. Select a quiet, comfortable place and meditate for a few minutes each day. You don’t need any special equipment, just a quiet space. Getting out in nature helps too. You can find plenty of meditation videos on You Tube.

2.  Take time out –  Where possible remove yourself from the situation which is making you anxious. Listen to music, get a massage or learn relaxation techniques.

3.  Diet – Choose foods to boost your mood. Foods rich in Vitamin B such as pork, chicken, leafy greens and citrus fruits. Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have been linked with uplifted and enhanced moods. Try salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Avoid caffeinated drinks and sugar. Avoid processed foods. All foods should be organic to avoid the interfering effects of added hormones and pesticides.

4. Exercise – Evidence shows a link between physical activity and mental wellbeing. Try introducing more exercise into your day and making it a habit. You don’t need to go to a gym to work out, having a good time dancing, a brisk walk or even taking the stairs instead of the lift are all just as effective.

5. Sleep – Make sure you get enough sleep. Tiredness exacerbates anxiety and you can cope with life much better if you aren’t feeling tired and grumpy. If you’re having trouble sleeping try our article on sleep How to get a good night’s sleep

Have you noticed yourself feeling more anxious since peri-menopause? What have you tried? Share your remedies with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Yoga for menopause

Yoga for menopause

We’ve long extolled the virtues of yoga to help alleviate menopause and peri-menopause symptoms and generally make you feel amazing. So we’ve put our money where our mouth is and teamed up with an amazing yoga teacher to bring you a range of poses. These will be in the form a course which will be available imminently but for now we wanted to give you a little taster.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to stand on your head with your ankles round your shoulders. These are some simple poses designed to combat individual symptoms. There are photos and directions to accompany each one. While you are in these poses concentrate on your breathing

About our yoga teacher – Claire Rother


Claire is an experienced yoga teacher who offers classes in Kent, United Kingdom. Yoga has been an important part of Claire’s own healing journey and she is immensely grateful for that. It is so much more than an exercise, than just a way to increase in flexibility, strength and tone. It certainly has those benefits (and many more!) but the real beauty of yoga is it’s transformative power; a power it has through the focus on both the health of the mind and the health of the body as one.

You can find our more about Claire on her website www.clairerother.com

Hot flushes

Ardha Halasana (Supported Plow Pose) with the legs resting on a chair:

  • calms jittery nerves
  • cooling and restorative
  • tension in the body can make hot flashes worse, so using a chair with a blanket helps to
  • support legs and release deep held tension

Directions:

  • Place three blankets on top of mat. Make the blankets neat and folded edges in a clean line. This goes under shoulders to make space for the neck, protecting it.
  • Use a bolster or a folded blanket across seat of chair
  • Lie down on the blankets – head at the same end as the chair – and line the shoulders so that they are on the blanket but the neck and head are on the mat.
  • Bend knees into chest, then lift the hips and bring legs back so that the feet and front of  shins come onto the blanket or bolster on the chair.
  • Keep the arms down by the sides of the body or if more comfortable, place them over head.
  • Rest here for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Whilst here, work on softening the throat, temples and jaw. Try to widen the back of the neck and shoulders. Allow the legs to release their weight onto chair.
  • Roll down and take a couple of breaths before coming up.
Arda halasana – supported plough pose 

Anxiety / irritability / insomnia

Forward folds can help to reduce tension and stress because when we fold forwards, we remove distractions from our external environment and we feel a sense of coming home to ourselves and feeling protected.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) – with head on chair

  • Stand facing the chair, feet together or hip distance apart, whichever is most comfortable for you.
  • Fold forward so that the the head is supported by the chair (using a blanket or two to raise height if needed). Allow arms to either fall down to the sides or rest arms on chair – holding each elbow with the opposite hand.
  • Stay for 5-10 breaths.
  • Whilst in this pose, keep a soft bend in the knees to prevent from locking them and work on drawing the lower belly in towards to spine and lifting the sit bones upwards to help create extra length in the back of the legs.
  • On an inhale slowly come up.
Uttanasana – Forward fold

Upavista konasana (Wide-Legged forward Bend)

  • Sit on a folded blanket or a yoga block to help raise hips and support lower back. Make sure you have a bolster or chair or yoga brick in front.
  • Open the legs wide.
  • Push into heels and draw the big toe mounds back towards the body, toes and kneecaps facing the ceiling.
  • Hinge forward from the hips and walk the hands out in front of you. Rest the forehead on your block, blanket or bolster so that is it supported. walking your hands out and resting your forehead on the block, bolster or chair.
  • With every inhale, lengthen torso; with every exhale, allow tension to release from the neck and upper back.
Upavista Konasana – wide legged forward bend

Tell us how you get on 

We’d love to know how you get on with these poses and what your experiences of yoga are. Let us know in our Facebook group where you can share your experiences of menopause and peri-menopause and get support from like minded women.

Countdown to a naturally stress free Christmas

Naturally stress free Christmas

Christmas can be stressful and even more so if you are menopausal or perimenopausal. Try these steps for a naturally stress free Christmas

1. Planning: Planning is key to reducing stress at Christmas (and any other time of year) and if you suffer from a touch of brain fog you can use some help.  It’s time for some lists. Make a list of all the things you need to do, the people you need to contact, shopping you have to buy. Once you have everything out of your head and on paper, you have made space for actually getting some of the items ticked off rather than worrying about them. Start early and keep your lists updated. You will probably need to add things as you think of them. Remember to cross things off as they are done.

2. Delegate: Christmas is a fun time for everyone and you are no exception. It’s a great time to remind your family you are a team and all need to pull together. Allocate the tasks fairly and make sure everyone knows it’s their responsibility to complete them. Even the young or old can help out in some way.

3. Build in some ‘me’ time: To stay chilled and stress free over the Christmas period you need to build in some time for self care, whether it’s treating yourself to a massage, getting your nails or hair done or just relaxing in a hot bubbly bath.

4.  Relax: Take time to relax with friends or make yourself a cup of tea and read a good book.

5. Keep your eating healthy: Tempting though it is to stuff your face with chocolate and cakes which are more freely available at Christmas, try to resist. Keep your diet as organic as possible and above all avoid highly processed foods.

6.  Pace yourself: There’s always lots going on at Christmas. Remember you don’t have to attend every single event you’ve been invited to. Be selective and really enjoy the ones you go to. Send your apologies but don’t feel guilty about the ones you miss.

7. Manage your mindset: Make a decision early on not to get stressed and overwhelmed by Christmas. If you have a positive mindset and are determined to enjoy yourself then you stand a much better chance than if you worry about things going wrong, the turkey being raw in the middle and relatives being bored or fighting.

8. Set a Christmas affirmation. Peace on earth and goodwill to all men is a great phrase to repeat daily to remind yourself of the aims of the season.

9. 5 minutes of meditation: Make every effort to fit in five minutes of meditation every day. It will calm your mind and centre you for the rest of the day.

10. Take a hike: With all the festivities taking up your time it is easy to let exercise habits lapse. Try exercising which is a great de-stresser as it gets you out of the way and helps produce endorphins to make you feel great. Just fitting in a short walk 3-4 times a week will help.

11. Go easy on the Christmas cheer: In addition to the usual hangovers and bad moods following a night of excess, alcohol exacerbates hot flushes. Stay cool by moderating your intake. Just in case you overdo it try these ways to naturally beat your hangover

 

12. Enjoy It!  

6 ‘thanks’ you need to give this year – even if you’re not American

Our readers come from all over the world, but wherever you are, it’s unlikely that the American holiday  Thanksgiving has escaped your notice. So, we thought, in honour of our stateside readers, we’d remind you of 6 things to be thankful for in menopause.

 

1.      The biggie – no more periods! Hello white trousers! What a relief to not need to carry around a selection pack of tampons, sanitary towels and the like just in case of an unexpected bleed.

2.      Freedom from the risk of unwanted pregnancy. The end of periods means an end to fertility and you can look forward to years of fun, carefree sex without the need for contraception. Whats not to love? N.B. You should continue to use contraception if you have experienced any bleeding in the last 2 years if you are aged 50 or under, or in the last year if you are over 50.

3.      Fun. As your children grow up and become more independent there is no excuse not to make the most of the extra free time created and indulge yourself in those hobbies and interests which have taken a back seat for years. This is your time to shine. Make the most of it.

4.      Choice: Now there is more choice than ever about how to cope with your menopause symptoms. Not so long ago women had to put up with their symptoms with no help or guidance. We were solely reliant on those who had gone before and many women in their 50s or older seemed very old indeed.

5.      Increased confidence levels: How much more confident do you feel than when you were in your twenties? That’s right, lots of our friends have reached a stage where they are not constantly worried about what other people think about them. In fact we’ve reached an age where we realise that most people are so worried about what others are thinking of them that they don’t have time to think and be critical of others.

6.      Opportunity to make health giving changes and benefit from them in other areas. One of our simplest recommendations for a stress free menopause is to change your diet to organic, local food which is as close to it’s natural state as possible. This is great for hormone balance but means the foods you eat are more nutritious, taste better and their production does less harm to the environment.  Using organic, paraben free soaps, creams, cosmetics  and cleaning products will have similar effects.

 

What are you most thankful for? Remember gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for one day in November. You can enhance your mood by a daily gratitude practice. Before you go to bed each night, reflect on the day you’ve had and try and find at least three things, large or small to be thankful for.

How to upgrade your menopause mindset

Mindset is everything in menopause. We talk about ways to change yours

Since turning 50 I have obviously reached a new advertising demographic. I sometimes watch programmes that are aimed at a more mature audience and have noticed that the accompanying adverts are of a lot less cheery nature. Once you pass your half century it’s clear (from an advertiser’s standpoint) that you should be preparing for imminent demise, wetting your pants, and getting a bit more help to rise from your armchair. If I believed all the advertising I would be in a sorry way.

This simply does not correlate with most of the women we meet in our daily life. We are a vibrant, forward thinking and optimistic group of women who are not ready to give up just yet! By taking care of our minds and bodies we are showing that we still have loads more to offer. Combined with the freedom that menopause brings from child rearing, messy periods and the like, menopause and the years around it denote, freedom, wisdom, fun and excitement if only you have the mindset to make it so.

Your mind is an extremely powerful tool. The way you think impacts your actions and behaviour either positively or negatively.

Carol Dweck, a psychologist who has extensively researched mindset, has identified there are two main types, fixed and growth. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their lot is determined and they have to stick with the hand they have been dealt. A much healthier way, particularly in menopause health and wellness is the growth mindset which means you can change the way you think and act. You can change from negative to positive, from unhealthy to healthy. A growth mindset empowers you to seek out new ways to change your world and your experiences.

 

Ways to change your mindset to a positive one

Surround yourself with the right people. We tend to become an average of the people that we spend the most time with, so it makes sense that if you surround yourself with miserable moaners and energy vampires, you will eventually become one. No one in your whingey group want or needs to hear your positive outlook (unless of course they want to change themselves). Instead choose your friends and associates wisely. Stick with positive people who act in the way you want to act, feel how you want to feel and think in the way you find attractive and engaging. Did you know you can find all the right support and positive people in our Facebook group? Feel free to join us here

Change the language you use. Be mindful of the words you use in your daily life and switch the negative words and statements for positive.

Decide the mindset you need and work out the actions you need to take to change it. For example, if you want to be fit and healthy, you need to have the mindset ‘ I love nourishing my body with good food and exercising.’  Think and act as if you are already achieving a certain result which will  fool your brain and your body will follow. If you need a bit of help, think how a role model would act and follow accordingly.

Be thankful. Reflect daily on the good things in your life. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day (this year on the 22nd November) to show gratitude. Regularly practicing gratitude will give you a much more positive outlook on life. It doesn’t always have to be the big things. Being grateful for small things will have just as good an effect.

 

As Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t – You’re right.” So keep a check on your mindset and upgrade if necessary

 

BE AWARE! It’s Breast cancer month!

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Mammography Day is the third Friday of October, which this year was on the 19th.

There are many reminders that mammograms save lives, but little effort is made to educate women about actual prevention. Detecting cancer has nothing to do with prevention, and at this point, it’s already too late. Many doctors now say that mammograms have serious health risks which are ignored by conventional breast awareness campaigns.

Importantly, vitamin D optimisation could potentially eliminate a vast majority of breast cancers, yet this key information is being completely ignored!

Research shows most cancers occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL), and the optimal level for cancer protection has been identified as being between 60 and 80 ng/mL. Once you reach a minimum serum vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL, your risk for cancer diminishes by 67 percent, compared to having a level of 20 ng/ml or less. Vitamin D also increases your chances of surviving cancer if you do get it, and evidence suggests adding vitamin D to the conventional treatment for cancer can boost the effectiveness of the treatment.

Just last month, research published in the journal Menopause found that postmenopausal women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer are more likely to be vitamin D deficient and overweight than women who receive a negative diagnosis. Overall, breast cancer patients were one and a half  times more likely to have low vitamin D.

This year, do your breast health a real favour and get your vitamin D level checked.

The best way is through sensible sun exposure, but many of us will need oral supplementation, especially in the dark days of winter!

Just remember that if you take high-dose oral vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2 as well, as these four nutrients work together, and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly. Low levels of vitamin K2 in combination with high vitamin D intake may cause over absorption of calcium, which in turn can result in calcium deposits in your heart and kidneys.

Calcium-to-magnesium is also important, as magnesium helps keep calcium in your cells so they can function better, a ratio of 1-to-1 appears to be ideal.

Magnesium is also required for the activation of vitamin D, as without sufficient magnesium, taking a vitamin D supplement may be ineffective, making it appear you need unnecessarily high amounts. If your magnesium level is too low, the vitamin D will simply get stored in its inactive form, doing you absolutely no good.

If you’ve been taking a certain amount of vitamin D3 for a number of months and re-testing reveals you’re still not within the recommended range, then you know you need to increase your dosage. Over time, with continued testing, you’ll find your individual sweet spot and have a good idea of how much you need to take to maintain a healthy level year-round.

Osteoporosis: the emperor has no clothes

What if everything your doctor told you about osteoporosis and osteopenia was wrong?

Until recently, most of the medical fraternity believed that the reason older people fell was because their bones had become brittle and fractured more readily. An article in the Journal of Internal Medicine titled, “Osteoporosis: the emperor has no clothes,” confirms that the primary cause of what are normally labeled “osteoporotic fractures” are falls due more to lifestyle factors and not osteoporosis, i.e. abnormally “porous” or low-density bones.

The new study pointed out three false notions that can be disputed:

  1. Mistaken diagnoses:  Most fracture patients have fallen, but actually do not have osteoporosis. A high likelihood of falling is an age-related decline in physical health.
  2. Ineffective screening: Current fracture risk predictions including bone densitometry and other prediction tools can’t identify a large proportion of patients who will sustain a fracture, whereas many of those with a high fracture risk score will not sustain one.
  3. Unproven and unsafe treatment: The evidence for the success of prescribing drugs to prevent hip and other fractures is mainly limited to women aged 65–80 years with osteoporosis, whereas the proof of hip fracture-prevention in women over 80 and in men at all ages is virtually non-existent. Plus many drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis have also been associated with increased risks and serious side effects.

“While bone drugs like Fosamax  (a bisphosphonate) may contribute to increased bone mineral density, they do not necessarily improve bone quality and strength. Very dense bone created by destroying osteoclasts (bone-degrading cells) may be far more brittle than less dense bone where there is healthy turnover of the osteoclasts and osteoblasts (bone-building cells). In fact, drugs like Fosamax are notorious for contributing to bone degeneration in the jawbone. Plus an extensive body of research indicates higher-than-normal bone density greatly increases the risk of breast cancer.”


The authors conclude: “Given all this, should ‘osteoporosis’ be added to a long list of diagnoses for which doing less, or even nothing, is better than our contemporary practice?”

Fortunately, there are natural alternatives!

Eating a balanced diet of organic, unprocessed foods, using a natural bio-identical form of the hormone *Progesterone, doing regular weight-bearing exercises plus practices like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, walking etc., can help reduce the risk of fracture, and increase bone mineral density and strength.

*At ‘Your Natural Menopause’ we recommend a natural, organic progesterone cream called Naturone, available from their  website  www.naturone.com

Friends in need…

Why friendships are important during menopause

Friends can be a really important lifeline for us during the menopause, and we need to be careful to nurture them, especially if family and workmates don’t understand what’s happening to us. 

How does the menopause affect your friendships?  There can be several reasons for this.

Mood Swings

One minute we can be absolutely fine. The next minute we’re really irritable or angry, and it can be difficult for our friends to understand why we’re having such severe mood swings.

Social Anxiety

You get to the stage where  you don’t want to be in a big group of people. Your worst nightmare would be going into a pub with loud music and lots of people talking.  

Loss of Confidence

This can be due to body image. Bodies change during menopause due to hormone imbalances, and if our friends are all nice and slim and you’ve put on a few pounds, you can feel really awkward.

Poor Sleep

If you’ve slept badly, what with night sweats and frequent trips to the loo, the last thing you want is to socialise… all you really want to do is just cuddle up in front of the the TV and have an early night!

Toxic or Unsupportive Friends

Friends who spend the whole time talking about themselves, and are unaware about what you’re going through and totally unsupportive, can make you think “Why am I here? I would be a lot happier on my own than being in this person’s company.”  You may also have other friends going through the menopause, and not suffering to the same extent, so they may be unsympathetic. Try to make them understand that you’re having a little bit of a rougher time and that all you want is their support, and maybe a bit of help to get you through a particularly difficult time.

Why not join our FB group, Your Natural Menopausewhere our members share their trials and triumphs, and we’re always on hand to advise, encourage and help!

How to avoid overwhelm and stop feeling stressed in menopause

With all the changes and strange symptoms happening in your body, menopause can seem overwhelming and confusing. It’s not for nothing that menopause and perimenopause have been known as ‘the change’ for many years.

 

As natural menopause coaches, part of our role is to reduce the overwhelm for you. We reduce the stress and worry you feel using the tools of our trade. But to get you started here are a few of our favourite tried and tested remedies for overwhelm.

 

As with any big goal or change there are lots of actions you can take to reach your goal and it’s best to break them down into small steps. There are lots of changes we recommend. You don’t have to do them all at once. Pick one you like the look of and practice it until you are comfortable with the change you have made, then add another to your repertoire. Make the changes gradually until you feel less stressed.

1.       Make yourself some head space. Take a break and practice meditation. Start with 5 minutes at a time and if you find your mind wandering, focus on your breath.

2.       Exercise. The benefit of exercise to reduce anxiety and also menopausal symptoms cannot be underrated as it helps correct hormone imbalance which is the root of symptoms. Another advantage of exercise is that it results in lower levels of heart failure in post menopausal women. You can read more here.

3.       Manage your mindset. If you expect your menopause to be stressful and difficult then it probably will be. It is important to maintain a positive outlook. There are lots of ways to achieve this. One of our favourites is  use of affirmations. You  can find lots on our Instagram feed

4.       Reduce toxins. This can be the confusing one as we are absolutely  surrounded by toxic substances which disrupt hormones. Industrialisation has been great in so many ways and we as a society have benefitted lots. However many man made materials, cosmetics, household cleaners and products contain toxins which contribute to oestrogen dominance which in turn exacerbates menopause symptoms You can read more about oestrogen dominance in our article here. A great rule of thumb is to use items which are as close to their natural state as possible.

5.       Get good sleep. It’s so much easier to deal with anything if you have had a decent night’s sleep and are full of energy. Go easy on the late nights, and all night parties. Get into good bed time habits and avoid too much stimulation before sleep (sorry that includes your mobile phone)

6.       Eat a good balanced diet. Avoid processed foods and sugar. Focus on plenty of fresh produce like organic meats and fish, fruit and vegetables. Cut down on alcohol – you don’t have to ban it altogether.

7.       Balance your hormones. We advocate the use of natural progesterone cream and our favourite one is made by a company called Naturone, as it’s important to ensure you have the correct percentage of progesterone in the cream  To try it follow the link and quote MENOPAUSE MATTERS in the order information