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Olwen Anderson's Blog

How to Stay Healthy During Menopause

Thursday, March 19, 2009
How do you feel now that you're in your menopausal years, or on the verge of menopause? Frightened? Confused? Or just determined to stay as healthy and active as you were during your fertile years? There are many steps you can take to make sure you not only stay healthy, but become even healthier as the years progress.


As you go through menopause, the major change experienced by your body is a radical drop in your estrogen levels. This hormone had begun to surge in your early teenage years, bringing on your womanly shape and fertility. It also promoted new muscle growth, bone growth, and skin thickness. The drop in estrogen will make itself evident in a variety of different ways, but you can take many positive steps to compensate for them. 


Estrogen helps drive your body to build muscle. Unless you compensate with the right activities, you will witness your body becoming flabbier, particularly your tummy and arms. Fight back and keep your womanly shape by taking up weight training. This form of physical fitness actively promotes new muscle growth. If you haven't tried weight training before, avoid injury by hiring a personal trainer to show you the right way to train. Increase your cardiovascular exercise too – your trainer will show you how much you need to do.


That weight training is going to proactively avoid another potential disorder of post-menopausal women: osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise will stimulate your bones to stay strong. You may need to take a calcium supplement as well, but check first, with a test of your bone density every few years, or a urine test for the presence of bone collagen. Keep in mind too that your production of digestive enzymes wanes as you age, and the ability to absorb calcium requires a digestion with the right pH; you may need to supplement your digestive enzymes rather than calcium.


You can choose foods which act as mild estrogen mimics in your body, easing the estrogen decline. These are soy based products like soy milk, plus green leafy vegetables. Aim for one serve of soy and five serves of vegetables every day.


As you age your need for protein increases. A healthy adult requires 0.8g of protein per kilogram of their ideal weight; by the time you are in your 80s you will need 1.5g of protein per kilogram of your ideal weight. Make sure you enjoy some high quality protein at every meal, and if in doubt, consult with a nutritionist.


Menopause doesn't mean the end of your sex life, but your estrogen decline may cause your vaginal lining to become dry and more prone to injury. Use a good quality lubricant to avoid irritation.


Your skin may become thinner all over your body too. Now is the time to reach for that supplement of fish oils to keep your skin soft and supple. Consult with your nutritionist about the right dosage for you.


Your emotions may shift as you pass through the menopause. This phase marks the end of your child bearing years, but some women find that their creativity naturally finds new outlets elsewhere; in art, craft, writing, or some other field that enriches the world. 


Some women experience unpleasant symptoms during menopause; These can include hot flashes that are worse at night but embarrassingly, continue through the day. Or mood swings, including anxiety attacks. If you are finding menopause problematic in this way, many natural remedies are available to help ease your symptoms.

Some women believe they become old and feeble after the menopause, and quietly fade into the background. Others choose to grasp life with both hands and enjoy all the new opportunities open to them. Which one are you?

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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