It’s a word that sends a chill of dread up the spine of most women aged 40 and up, wondering when, and or how severe those inevitable hot flashes will be. With all the women I've coached, or even just chatted with, the assumption is never, “If I get hot flashes...” but always “I hope I don't get it too bad when when those hot flashes show up.”
If that’s you, I'm telling you it doesn't have to be that way.
Essentially, menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Post-menopause comes after going at least one year without having a menstrual cycle. Those annoying symptoms and side effects that plague women everywhere—hot flashes, poor sleep, weight gain—can begin pre-menopause and sometimes continue for up to four or five years post-menopause.
Although quite rare, some women may even start to experience changes in their 30s. More likely however, they will to show up for women in their mid- to late-40s to their 60s, or anywhere in between.
While it would be naive to expect that as we age there would be no change whatsoever in our bodies, expecting and accepting all the negative effects of these hormonal changes as “normal” is just wrong.
Society, media and even doctors, continue to fuel that belief, so I guess it's really not surprising. Just know your body is not designed to live in disease and is designed to heal, given the right environment to do so.
Changes in hormonal balance before, during and after menopause can trigger any number of symptoms. As the ovaries age, they produce fewer hormones and the ability to regulate estrogen, progesterone and testosterone decreases. The overall imbalance combined with the decline in estrogen can significantly affect a woman's health.
Osteoporosis, vaginal changes/dryness, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, disturbed sleep, weight gain and of course the dreaded hot flashes, are symptoms most often reported. The good news is there are things you can do to minimize discomfort and in some cases even eliminate symptoms altogether.
As with everything to do with health, quality matters. Although your current mood may make you want to sit down with a bag of chips, a bottle of wine and a single-serving of Haagen Dasz ice cream and eat through those emotions, it will honestly only add fuel to the fire— moods and hot flashes included.
Instead, let's think about quality and balance. Logically, if the body's lack of balance is contributing to uncomfortable symptoms, it stands to reason that putting the body back in balance will help. FYI, it has been my experience, both personally and in my coaching practice, that this is most definitely the case.
To create balance, or homeostasis, within the body you must stabilize blood sugar. Hormonal balance and blood sugar go hand in hand. When blood sugar is stable, the body just works better and good things happen. I say that blood sugar stabilization is our body's “love language.”
Not only will you sleep better and have more energy, moods and mood swings will be fewer and less severe, concentration and focus will improve, and it's in this place of balance, where your body is in a position to create hormonal balance, fire up metabolism and naturally release stored fat. That's right, balancing blood sugar not only balances hormones it also allows the body to release stored fat and lose weight. The better able you are to balance blood sugar, and therefore hormones, the fewer and less intense symptoms you will experience.
Eating small meals made up of a protein, a healthy fat and a quality carbohydrate together— in the right portions and in the right frequency— throughout the day consistently, stabilizes blood sugar. Missing breakfast, skipping meals or taking too long between meals on the other hand, causes blood sugar to drop, your body to burn muscle and your metabolism to slow down.
Think of your body like your car. In order for it to run properly, you need the right type and amount of fuel to keep the engine running. It’s the same for your body.
Choose whole foods and avoid packaged, processed or fast foods and that will help even more to extinguish hot flashes. Those chips, that wine and the ice cream will only serve to spike blood sugar, store fat, create inflammation and disrupt both hormonal and blood sugar balance.
Increasing your water intake, while cutting down on salt, will also help get rid of bloat and flush out fat and toxins, improving your comfort level yet again.
Having coached several groups of women, there were always several positive comments about how stabilizing blood sugar had improved, and in some cases eliminated, their menopausal symptoms.
Ladies, if you're at that place in your life where feeling hot is no longer a good thing, I invite you to watch my free training on blood sugar stabilization.
The only thing you've got to lose are the hot flashes.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.