Nourish - Guide to Managing Menopause the Natural Way Part 3: Combating Weight Gain, Anxiety and Irritability During Menopause
Menopause can be a challenging time for the 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 tends to start slowing down, making it easier to gain weight. It can also mean a natural reduction in physical activity which also slows down the metabolism.
It’s wise to take into account that changes in hormone levels can also have an influence on body weight as well. With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to keep yourselves physically active and ensure we’re eating well.
Speaking of eating well. Going long stints without eating, or living off stimulants such as coffee, tea and sugar are all causes of crazy blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations tend to encourage symptoms like hot flushes, as well as slowing down our metabolism. Unfortunately, this only increases our chances of weight gain and further triggering of other menopausal symptoms along the way.
Instead, focus on plenty of:
- leafy greens
- colourful fruits and veggies
- good fats like avocado, chia, flax
- healthy protein sources (see my protein blog here)
- grains like brown rice
- pseudo-grains like quinoa
- keep hydrated
Importantly, 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 are also big players during the menopause for many women. Some women find these symptoms of moodiness and anxiety are similar to pre-menstrual tension (PMT). This deflated mood and irritability is also a common result of poor sleep due to night sweats and feeling too hot to sleep. Additionally, it comes as a result of low blood sugar levels as we covered above.
Nutrients that are 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 our bodies cannot produce these fats themselves. They must be found from food sources.
These essential fatty acids both brighten our mood and improve our cognitive functioning and alertness. Additionally, they reduce inflammation (think hot flushes, joint pain), reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and boost energy levels. Honestly, this makes them incredibly supportive allies during menopause.
Find them in:
- nuts and seeds (and their oils) such as flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin seeds, walnuts. Udo’s oil is also a great option.
- green leafy greens
- wild fish, such as salmon or rainbow trout
- Oily fish such as mackerel and sardines
- algae oil (great for vegans)
To learn more about other key players in boosting mood and happiness, have a read over this blog post:
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.
Interestingly, low levels of B-group vitamins show to contribute to low mood. Therefore, 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
- nutritional yeast
- lean meat
Alternatively, or should I say, additionally, take a good B complex vitamin to whack up your levels. Especially, 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’. It’s a great helper when you’re struggling 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. This includes dissolving any excess calcium in the body resulting in natural stress relief.
Boosting vitamin D levels can really help improve mood by enhancing the production of serotonin. Vitamin D comes from sunlight and thus people often they that they get enough. It’s worth noting, however, that sunscreen blocks the ability of vitamin D absorption. Yes, it’s great to prevent damage from the sun, especially at its peak, but it’s also good to get 5-15 minutes of sunshine on your bare skin whenever you can.
Vitamin D isn’t only sourced from the sun. We also get it from certain foods such as oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods.
Additionally, it’s also available in supplement form. Taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement all through the year is a great idea, though especially throughout winter.
For those prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder, this one is a must-have!)
Learn more about vitamin D in my blogs:
And that’s it for our Guide to Managing Menopause the Natural Way Part 3: Combating Weight Gain, Anxiety and Irritability During Menopause.
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 Flushes 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.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*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.