Nourish - Guide to Managing Menopause the Natural Way Part 3: Combating Weight Gain, Anxiety and Irritability During Menopause
Menopause can be challenging time for your body, often leading to difficult side effects like weight gain, low mood, anxiety and irritability. While there is no cure-all for menopausal symptoms, there are a few natural ways to help stave off some of the worst aspects of the symptoms and make life a little easier.
As we get older, our metabolism can start to slow down, making it easier to gain weight.
It can also mean a natural reduction in physical activity which also slows down the metabolism.
You also have to take into account that changes in hormone levels can have an influence over body weight as well, so keeping yourself physically active and ensuring you’re eating well is essential.
Going long stints without eating, or living off stimulants such as coffee, tea and sugar can all cause blood sugar fluctuations which not only encourage symptoms like hot flushes, but also slow down your metabolism even more, increasing your chances of weight gain and triggering other menopausal symptoms along the way.
Focus on plenty of leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, good fats like avocado, chia, flax, healthy protein sources, see my protein blog here, include some grains like brown rice, or pseudo-grains like quinoa and keep yourself hydrated.
Ensure that you keep your blood sugar levels balanced and your energy levels stable by eating little and often, every 3-4 hours.
Low Mood, Anxiety and Irritability
Anxiety and irritability can also play a part in the menopause. Some women find these symptoms of moodiness and anxiety similar to pre-menstrual tension (PMT).
This deflated mood and irritability can also be a result of poor sleep due to night sweats and feeling too hot to sleep or as a result of low blood sugar levels.
Nutrients known to help with mood include:
The brain is made up of about 60% fat, so to keep our brains happy and healthy we really want omega-3 and 6 fats, also known as essential fatty acids. This is because your body cannot produce these fats themselves, they must be found from food sources.
These essential fatty acids both brighten your mood and improve your cognitive functioning and alertness, plus they reduce inflammation (think hot flushes, joint pain), reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases and boost energy levels, making them really supportive during menopause.
Find them in nuts and seeds including flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, as well as lots of green leafy greens, supply both omega-3 and omega-6. Wild fish, such as salmon or rainbow trout are also a fantastic source and are key players in boosting mood and happiness!
Oily fish such as mackerel and sardines are also good, just make sure to have variety so you do not load yourself up on heavy metals (e.g mercury) often found in fish. To avoid this risk, or just to make sure you’re really getting a good boost of these beneficial oils, try a high-quality fish oil such as Viridian Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil or an Algae Oil if you’re vegan.
By increasing the amount of B vitamins in your diet, you may begin to notice some positive changes in your mood and experience a feeling of prolonged happiness.
Low levels of B-group vitamins have been shown to contribute to low mood so if you’re having mood swings, feeling irritable or struggling with brain fog you could do with a good boost of B’s.
Look for foods rich in B vitamins such as dark green leafy veg, nuts and seeds, brown rice, oats, bananas, almonds, avocados, nutritional yeast, eggs, seafood, lean meat and fish.
Alternatively you could take a good B complex vitamin to whack up your levels if you’re under a lot of stress. B vitamins are used up very quickly during stress so it’s a good idea to replenish them.
Note also that B vitamins are destroyed by things like sugar, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine!
Magnesium is a calming mineral, also known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and may help with symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and mood changes.
Magnesium helps to both restore healthy magnesium levels in the body and balance your calcium intake, including dissolving any excess calcium in the body resulting in natural stress relief.
Boosting your vitamin D levels can really help improve mood by enhancing the production serotonin.
Vitamin D comes from sunlight (though remember sun cream blocks the ability of vitamin D absorption so it’s good to get 5-15 minutes of sunshine on your bare skin whenever you can.)
Vitamin D also can be found in foods such as oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods.
Check out my blog What’s the Scoop on Vitamin D for more info.
It can be worth taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement all through the year, though especially throughout winter.
Those prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder, this one is a must have!)
Learn more about how to cope with menopausal symptoms with natural solutions by exploring the rest of our series on Menopause:
Nourish’s Guide to Managing Menopause the Natural Way
For an introduction on menopause and a general overview on how natural supplements can help.
How to Treat Menopausal Hot Flushed the Natural Way
If you can’t kick those hot flushes to the curb, you can at least learn how to cope with them when they happen.
Tips for Defeating the “Drying Effect” During Menopause
Sometimes our hair and skin dry out during menopause. Here’s how to handle it if it happens to you.
Staying Strong: How to Keep Your Bones Healthy During Menopause
Strong bones are imperative to our health, but sometimes menopause can take a toll on our bones. We give you a few tips to avoid that.
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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication