We all know how menopause affects a woman’s physical and mental health—hot flashes, insomnia, issues with concentration and memory, night sweats, and mood changes can create mayhem in the lives of even the most confident women. But did you know that recent evidence suggests the severity of menopausal symptoms can be predictive of even greater health risks? Before you hit the panic button, take comfort in the expert advice of Lovera Wolf Miller, MD, and David C. Miller, MD, authors of Womenopause: Stop Pausing and Start Living (O-Books London, UK, 2010).
Get moving. Just thirty minutes of exercise a day can reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes, increase sleep quality, improve sex, defend against osteoporosis, and even boost your mood. Whether you’re walking, biking, or practicing yoga, any recreational activity that gets you sweaty and tired will do the trick.
Check the scale. When menopause arrives, overweight women can suffer from more hot flashes, so be wary of those extra pounds. Exercise alone is not usually enough to cut the fat, but daily physical activity paired with fewer consumed calories can produce good results over time. Weighing less not only reduces the risks of breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, but it is sure to increase your self-esteem—and you’ll look great, too!
Monitor your mood. Menopause is essentially a magnification and extension of PMS, and it’s important to remember that your mood swings affect everyone around you. Don’t let your family suffer—combat this common problem with foods containing vitamin B6, such as garlic, celery, or cauliflower, which can boost your mood. For persistent problems, however, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice.
Rest up. Adult women need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Rehabilitate your sleep schedule by removing electronic distractions from the bedroom, avoiding caffeinated beverages after noon, and exposing yourself to bright lights in the morning and dim lights in the evening. Milk, yogurt, peanuts, and cheese also promote restful slumber.
Think calm thoughts . According to the authors, there is no physical wellbeing without spiritual and mental wellbeing. Relaxation decreases the stress response hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol, which promote emotional peace. Train your brain to relax by practicing yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or prayer, and rejoice in that newfound feeling of calm control you’re sure to discover.
Choose food wisely.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin E— found in nuts, vegetables, and seeds—may reduce hot flashes; vitamin C may reduce the risks of breast cancer and diabetes; fish oils help prevent dementia and improve cardiac health. Other foods like broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, lowfat cottage cheese, and egg whites contain nutrients known for assisting women with menopausal problems while also making great low-calorie choices.