There's a lot of confusion about what a woman needs during menopause to keep the peace. Hormone therapy and anti-depressants are the most common go-tos in western medicine.
And though both can help, often there are more foundational remedies for balancing hormones and calming the raging chaos that can come with menopause.
As you enter menopause, your female sex hormones can drop up to 90 percent. If the drop isn't well managed and regulated by your body, you can experience impaired mood, hot flashes, muscle loss, poor sleep, cognitive dysfunction, night sweats and a tanked sex drive.
However, not all women experience these symptoms and it's estimated that up to 20 percent hardly notice they're in menopause.
Are the women suffering with raging hormones defective?
No, but something does need to be addressed. There is a hormone imbalance.
Addressing Hormone Imbalance
Hormone therapy can certainly help and there is research that says it's beneficial for several reasons. However, it's important to work with your body and not to overwhelm it by flooding it with “third-party” hormones. If you do decide on hormone therapy, think low dose, bio-identical, and short-term. Absorbing hormones through the skin can also help your body regulate the influx of hormones.
But in addition to hormone therapy, you want to address the essentials and go back to basics; diet, natural detoxification, rest, exercise and stress management.
A poor diet and nutritional deficiencies are a couple of the top root causes for hormone imbalance. The wrong foods can trigger your stress response system, and missing key nutrients can impair your ability to produce hormones.
While you are working on improving your diet, you may want to consider supplements. Probiotics, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants and omega-3s are the most common supplements needed by women in menopause.
As you enter menopause your body undergoes various changes, and it's common for HDL or “good” cholesterol to decrease, and for LDL or “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure to rise. This can lead to cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women.
Additionally, because estrogen helps to regulate inflammation, inflammation also tends to increase due to reduced available estrogen.
As these changes occur, to include increased inflammation, your body can experience an increased stress load resulting in chronic stress. When your stress response system is active, your immune system and digestive function are minimized, your blood pressure goes up and resources are diverted away from other activities to produce more stress hormones.
Resources for producing thyroid hormones, estrogens, and other critical hormones are used to produce stress hormones instead. This includes omega-3s.
Essential Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids. These are nutrients you cannot make on your own and much obtain through the food you eat. Traditionally, we were able to obtain a balance between the two, but as our food supply has changed, so too has our ability to stay in balance.
The primary source of omega-3s come from cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and cod. You can also obtain them from unprocessed foods and animals which graze. However, the modern western diet has a higher percentage of foods that contain omega-6. Foods such as meat that is grain fed, vegetable and nut oils, and of course processed foods.
Both omega-3 and -6 are important for your health. Though you likely have a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 than ideal, you need omega-6s. They play an important part in brain health, growth and development functions. Omega-6s help to stimulate skin and hair growth, good bone health and help to regulate your metabolism.
You need adequate amounts of omega-6, otherwise, you can experience nerve pain and reduced nerve function, high blood pressure, poor bone health, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and more.
However, it does need to be in balance with omega-3 to maintain an optimal inflammation response. Ideally, the balance is 1 – 1, but no more than 3 omega 6 – 1 omega 3.
Omega-9 fatty acids can be produced by your body, therefore, they are not considered “essential,” however including them in your diet can have several health benefits such as reducing triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol. Also, research has shown that diets with high-monounsaturated fat, such as the Mediterranean Diet, can lead to less inflammation and better insulin sensitivity. Rich sources of omega-9s can be found in olive oil, avocados, sesame oil, and nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts.
There are several forms of Omega-3. The most common are:
- Eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), important for reducing depression and inflammation and are found in animal-based sources.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), important for brain development and function and are found in animal-based sources.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), important because it can be converted into both EPA and DHA and is used to produce energy and are found in plant-based sources.
Omega-3s are precursors for hormones, building blocks, and without them your overall hormone levels will be low. You need to have adequate amounts of fatty acids and in the right ratio to maintain a health hormone balance.
Omega-3s are also critical for maintaining healthy cell membranes and to increase HDL “good” cholesterol while reducing triglycerides, blood pressure and the formation of arterial plaque.
Additionally, they support metal health, healthy weight, liver health, cognitive health, bone health, respiratory health and are anti-inflammatory.
Foods Sources for Omega-3s
You can obtain omega-3s from a variety of sources. Generally, you want to eat at least two servings of fish per week, and include other foods rich in omega-3s on a daily basis.
- Fresh and wild caught fish, particularly cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, cod, and herring)
- Cod liver oil
- Pasture-raised and grass-fed animals
- Wild game
- Chia seeds
- Walnut oil
- Hempseed oil
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
Though you can get ample amounts of omega-3 in your diet it can be difficult to balance your omega-3s and omega-6s if you don't like fish or if you eat a diet high in omega-6s. That's why many choose to add supplements to their daily routine. However, fish oil is very perishable and when it starts to oxidize it can form free radicals which can add to your stress load and damage cells.
You also want to consider the source. Fish can contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic, and fish supplies are often found to be contaminated with pollutants and toxins that can affect your health in large enough quantities.
Therefore, you'll want to identify a supplement that is not only highly-absorbable, but is also free of contaminates and includes a natural preservative to help reduce oxidation.
If you want to consider adding omega-3 supplementation to your daily routine, I invite you to schedule an appointment with me by clicking here. There are several factors to consider before adding omega-3 supplementation, even though they are widely used, and you can buy them off the shelf at any grocery store. You may have health considerations that need to be addressed such as if you are taking blood-thinning medication.
And there are other considerations, for instance, maybe you want to avoid animal-based sources, have a sensitive stomach, don't like fish smell or taste, etc.
If you have excessive stress and believe you have chronic inflammation, are concerned about heart disease, bone health and/or have chronic pain, or have hormone imbalance, increasing your omega-3s may be an important element to add to your health routine.
You may have the belief that you can't control your hormones and they have a mind of their own, but with the right approach you can considerably influence them for the positive.
And as you address hormone health, you're also addressing other critical health issues such as heart, bone, nerve, brain and emotional health. There is never a good reason to avoid taking care of your hormones, and being aware of your omega balance is one easy step you can take.
If you are curious to know the current state of your fatty acids, I invite you to schedule a FREE Hormone Troubleshooting Session. There are low costs testing options and together we can discuss your current routines, symptoms and diet to determine your risk factors.
You don't have to accept feeling out of balance, fatigued and irritable. A few simple enhancements could be all you need to go from “wired yet tired” and manic to strong, confident and more like yourself.
If you're ready to be energized, engaged and enthusiastic about your life, click on the button below and schedule an appointment that is convenient for you.
You can feel like yourself again, calmer, motivated, confident and great in your own skin.
Your partner in health,
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