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Menopause hot flushes causing embarrassment just about every day? Confused about supplements? This one is for you.




As promised today lovely ladies, before we have a quick chat about supplements, I wanted to talk about nutrition and physical activity that might help us to combat those hot flushes, or at least manage them a little bit better. They might be at night, they might be in the office, they might be in response to when you eat, they might be in the gym – either way they can be super uncomfortable and can be embarrassing, and I definitely don’t want that for you. I want you to feel empowered, able to manage your menopausal symptoms as best as possible, although fairly often we can’t take them away entirely, I want you to be able to live your life as YOU want to – not dictated to by your menopause and how that might be making you feel.

 

So, a quick spin on why we experience hot flushes for context.

 

When our body temperature changes even slightly, as we move through our menopausal years, we become more sensitive to those changes. That oestrogen dropping, yet again has a lot to answer for, as what happens is those hormone changes means that the neurons, a key component in the messaging pathways between our bodies and our brains, are ramped up, meaning that just teeny tiny temperature changes within our bodies can cause a big overreaction in the body. This means more blood comes to the surface of the skin, our heart rate might rise and we start sweating to cool ourselves down. As our body temperature drops again, we might then feel super cold.

 

How long your hot flushes last in the moment and also over time and how frequently they occur can vary, as ever, between woman to woman and vary within individuals as we move through our journeys too. What tends to happen though is hot flushes become more regular and increase in intensity as the menopause is imminent and then they tend to be at their worst for most as we come up to a year after our final period which is almost indicating that we are, at last, after often a long time of symptoms, menopausal. So, the good news is, for many of you, if they feel about at their peak intensity just now – they are likely to get better from here for most.

 

It is worth saying at this point that there are also many factors influencing our health that can contribute to the worsening intensity of hot flushes during the menopause. Things like high blood pressure for example can make them so much worse. Yet another reason why taking care of our health at any age and preparing ourselves, holistically, as best we can for those menopausal years, is pivotal.

 

So how can we help what feels like a super out of control experience?

 

Remember that all of this is an experiment for you. What might work for one, might not work for another.

 

You might have noticed that often hot flushes come about at meal times or when we have a hot drink, especially where spicy or hot (temperature wise) food might be involved. When the body digests food, it goes without saying that is an energy expensive process, in other words, the body uses some energy to break food down. We know from our school science lessons that when energy is used, or ‘burned’, heat is a by-product of that. You might hear that referred to in the health and fitness industry as the ‘thermic effect of food’. We actually spoke about this a little earlier in the series with regards to protein. Protein has a fairly high thermic effect and therefore, despite it being a negligible amount, eating more protein can mean that we burn more energy from day to day!

 

The experiment element of this one that we referred to just a moment ago is that your ‘trigger foods’ if you like will be different to someone else’s, what will also be very different is the amount of any given food you can tolerate before a hot flush comes on. So, it’s time to get those notes back out. Having a hot flush in response to food? Make a note of it, the time, what you have consumed, the intensity of the flush – over time, can you start to notice a pattern and therefore perhaps start to learn your limits or things that might be better to avoid or moderate some more just now? This isn’t me here going full ‘fun sponge’ again and saying we should never eat those foods again – it’s just worth you considering whether the pay off in terms of menopausal symptoms might be worth it, or not, for now.

 

Next up, something we spoke about yesterday (funny how all of this is intertwined, hey? Now you know why we work on the WHOLE picture, not just nutrition), alcohol and caffeine can have a big impact on the activity of our blood vessels and therefore cause more hot flushes – again, just notice, is there a pattern? Is it worth the hot flushes? Might be, might not be, no judgement here! There are tactics we can use though – maybe iced coffee could work better for you? A spritzer to minimise alcohol content with the same ceremony of an alcoholic drink? Decaf? There are a number of things that we can go through and potentially work on together to maybe make it more manageable.

 

Lastly, and how many times do I have to tell EVERYONE, not simply menopausal clients, MORE WHOLE FOODS – that’s the things that are minimally processed, think of the things you find largely round the perimeter of the supermarket rather than in the middle isles. If we prioritise whole foods over processed alternatives, we are maximising our opportunities to consume plenty of vitamins and minerals in quantities that are super healthy for us. Another tactic we can use for this one is to try a new fruit or veggie every week in our weekly shop and to LOAD up that plate with veggies first before anything else and make it as colourful as we possibly can every single time.

 

Beyond just being super healthy for us, giving us the vitality and the energy that we need, not only at this phase of life more than any other but actually at any phase of life, the vitamins and minerals that are principally going to contribute to the improvement of menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes in this instance are the omegas 3&6, phytoestrogens, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc among many, many others.

 

This isn’t to say we have to radically change our diet in a moment, you know I’m all about small, manageable habit change here – as far as I’m concerned, it’s the ONLY way to make long-term sustainable lifestyle change.

 

Lastly today, a note on something we haven’t yet covered in the past few days chatting about the menopause in some more detail – supplements. I know you are inundated with advice from your peers and the media about what supplements can work their magic throughout their menopause. You might even have found one or two that you feel have made a small difference to you. I am here to advise you today that almost all supplements that seem too good to be true are just that. A waste of time and money for the most part, capitalising on you at your most desperate feeling time – it makes me so sad to see so many women buying into that but I can totally understand why you might and I have been there.

 

The very best thing that you can do is to get your big ducks in a row first, focus on the basics and being healthy and trying to tactics that we are chatting about in these blogs. Beyond there, I am more than happy to dig through the research to help you with what may or may not be worth a try if you have the time, money and inclination to try something out.

 

Any ‘professional’ that isn’t medical, recommending that you dive into the world of supplements, likely has an ulterior motive, even if they say it is research backed – what I do for you is delve into that research and look at the reliability and validity of the studies and more importantly, who the study was funded by! Would you believe, the saying that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ came about as the result of research funded by Kellogg’s? Shock!!

 

Tomorrow, before we bring our menopause series to a close for now (lots more content to come as I delve deeper into even more research, if I don’t drown in it before!), I want to talk about clarity in our mental wellbeing. Whether that’s concentration at work or just being able to decipher our feelings from day to day I want to talk about how we can manage and support our cognitive (brain) systems as we go through these challenging, but hopefully now empowering years!

 

Any questions as ever or if you might need some additional support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch over at annalouisecoaching@outlook.com.

 

Peace and low for now, A x

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