Menopause has been linked to risk for many chronic illnesses. It’s a time when being “hot” is not so hot or desirable. It’s more than just symptoms that will pass. Serious metabolic and physical changes will occur with or without symptoms.
Menopause has been defined as not having a menstrual cycle for a year and low estrogen levels. This brings about many changes since estrogen has wide ranging effects on many parts of your mind and body. It is not just a hormone for reproduction. This drop of estrogen can induce aging of blood vessels that send blood to feed and nourish every part of your body. Gut microbes which modulate your immune, nervous and hormonal symptoms can influence estrogen levels. Estrogen modulates, weight and heart and brain health. There are even receptors for estrogen on your eyes!
Menopause has been linked to increased risk of:
- Heart and vascular disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity and weight gain
- Chronic fatigue
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic pain
During menopause women continue to make estrogen, however it is not the feel-good estrogen that alleviates hot flashes and maintains bone, brain and normal lipid levels. The type of estrogen produced is called estrone which can increase inflammation. It is made in your fat as well as liver and adrenal glands. This estrogen makes breast and uterine tissue cells replicate and grow. That is why the incidence of breast and uterine cancer are higher after menopause. It is also why women who are overweight and obese, drink alcohol and are stressed out are at a higher risk of these cancers.
Nutrition is a Natural Defense
One of the most valuable things that help women in menopause is good nutrition. Since estrone causes inflammation, it makes sense to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Toxins can mimic estrogen and stimulate the receptors and disrupts your hormones and immune system. They are known as “obesogens” since they contribute to weight gain and bog down your liver making it harder to remove toxins. Here are some nutrition strategies to reduce risk.
- Decrease inflammation by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar and starch. Eat every color of the rainbow. The phytonutrients not only supply vital vitamins and minerals, they are also anti-oxidants and oxidation ages and inflames.
- Detoxify by eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and arugula. These also help you turn estrogen break down products into a safer form.
- Decrease inflammation and cardiovascular risk with Omega 3 fatty acids from anti-inflammatory fats that could be made into an oil such as fish, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and any of their oils. A plant-based diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids showed significant improvement in hot flashes.
- Maintain bone and decalcify your arteries with Vitamin K2 as MK7 menoquinone along with Vitamin D3. Studies have shown a certain form and dose increases bone density, bone strength and decalcifies arteries.
Supplements that make menopause manageable
- Reduce hot flashes with Rhapontic Rhubarb
- Reduce reabsorption of estrogen with calcium d glucarate
- Enhance estrogen metabolism to safe forms with DIM di-indolylmethane
- Reduce the risk of cancer and increase detoxification with sulforaphane
- Get protocols and combination of supplements to neutralize the negative effects of estrone and reduce cancer risk with Supplement Savvy.
- Reduce cardiovascular risk with EPA/DHA fish oil in natural triglyceride form
- Increase bone density and strength with Vitamin K2 and D3
Good nutrition, exercise, modulating stress and weight can go a long way to reduce not only the symptoms of menopause but the associated risks. When symptoms impact your quality of life, seek the advice of a functional medicine doctor with knowledge and experience in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.