Listen up ladies, we no longer have to subscribe to the idea that menopause means we can no longer look sexy, feel good, or have great energy.
There’s a ton of information out there showing that in fact, this can be one of the best parts of our lives. The children are grown, we are in a good place with our careers, and we deserve to enjoy this phase of our lives. Several of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and brain fog, often can be addressed by looking closely at our habits around sleep, diet, and true self-care. These areas are strongly connected to 3 main hormones that when balanced, are super effective at diminishing those pesky symptoms.
Which hormones do I speak of? Read on, they may not be what you think.
The 3 main hormones we are talking about today are cortisol, oxytocin, and insulin.
Cortisol is one of our "stress" hormones, it elevates when were are experiencing either real or perceived stress. Perceived stress is when we are worrying about what might happen and even though it may never actually occur, the body still responds with an increased release of cortisol. Hormones are present for a reason and though cortisol has gotten a bad rap, especially for women who are in perimenopause and menopause, it actually has a lot of great functions such as being anti-inflammatory and helps save our lives in a dangerous situation by getting us into action. However, when cortisol has been chronically elevated it can mess with our other hormones and cause early aging, weight gain, depression, hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue. So how do we combat these harmful effects?
Routine bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends. This supports a healthy circadian rhythm and reduces stress on our adrenals, which is where cortisol is produces. The adrenals are also the glands that step up to work harder as our ovaries quiet down, so protecting these babies throughout our lives is vital to healthy aging.
Routinely eating - it’s not just about what you eat (which we will get to below) but when and how you eat. Eating in a rush and not having a routine with your meal times can also be perceived as a stress. Schedule your day with the intention and attention on proper eating hygiene.
Stay hydrated - dehydration is another stress on the body. Aim for 2-3L of filtered water daily.
Start a self-care routine - this can mean getting a massage or coming to your acupuncture sessions, but true self care comes from within and it doesn't have to cost $. Having a breath practice, walks in nature, sitting with a good book and a cup of tea, regular mediation, starting a yoga practice, and putting away your devices are all ways to easily and effectively care for you soul.
Oxytocin - many women experience a rush of this beautiful hormone after childbirth, it is what floods our system when we connect and bond to others. It's our "happy" hormone but unfortunately it will be suppressed when cortisol is elevated. They work like a seesaw, one goes up, the other goes down. Oxytocin helps regulate body weight and appetite and can be called an "anti-aging" hormone. So how can we support this hormone?
Reach out to loved ones and connect on a regular basis.
Affectionate/loving hugs for at least 20 seconds
Having a daily practice of gratitude
And lastly, insulin, our sugar regulating hormone that affects testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. As we age we can become more insulin resistance which leads to belly and hip fat. When our blood sugar is not regulated all of our other hormones are affected. That's why balancing this hormone is vital to getting results that last. So how to we address this?
Eat a high protein breakfast - eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, smoked salmon, & avocado - I choose humanely raised products from Applegate & Vital Farms.
Choosing nutrient dense meals throughout your day - this is where your high fiber vegetable come into play, adding more healthy fats, and getting protein with each meal.
Limit your fruit intake - this is where I find people get confused. We were raised thinking that fruits and vegetables are the same! However, fructose, the sugar found in fruit, can become a problem in too high amounts. I would limit your fruit intake to low glycemic fruits and eat 3 - 4 x weekly.
Don't snack - if you like to snack right now it may be because blood sugar is unstable, so do what you must to not deprive yourself of eating (remember this is a stressor too) and we can slowly work this out of your routine.
This may sound like a lot but the fact of the matter is, it is truly just living simply. Begin by eating a hearty, high protein and fat (no carbs) breakfast, commit to staying hydrated throughout your day, get your sleep, and hug your friends. Trust me, when you have these areas dialed in, you will feel better! Cheers to abundant health as we age my friends! Emily