What Creates It, What Sabotages It?
Menopause Health: What Kind of Health Do You Want?
Do you want health as in being free from illness? Or do you want more than that?
I certainly want more than that. I want to be able to continue with activities that I enjoy: sports, camping, and hiking, without fear of injury or a heart attack.
I want vitality most days. I want to feel good enough to be happy about it. I believe most of us can have that, although it may take some work, and plenty of change.
Menopause Health, Perimenopause Health: How to Get Healthy
The hardest part of getting healthy may be understanding how unhealthy you really are.
Since over half of us now (at least in America) have some form of chronic disease, and obesity rates are approaching 35%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index over 30 – check yours
with this BMI calculator)
, there aren't many models of healthy people.
We have not only forgotten the wisdom of ancient healing traditions, we have forgotten what health looks and feels like.
People eating their native diets back in the 1930's and 1940's were found to have perfect teeth. 98% of them never had a cavity.
They had no need for braces. Ever.
It is processed food that is causing your health problems. Most of us are eating processed food in some form or another on a regular basis. It may not be McDonald's.
Maybe it's a bottle of salad dressing, or a package of ice cream. Or cheese that is pasteurized and comes from cows eating soy and corn meal. Do you know how sick that makes cows? They're supposed to eat grass!
Menopause health requires good eating, exercising and living habits. If you don't have them, now is the time to get them. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Take one at a time. Take the easiest one first.
If you are addicted to coffee, and it's related to low blood sugar (which, I just found out, it usually is), that could be a very difficult habit to break. Maybe you should start with a different one, like taking a 5 or 10 minute walk each day.
Doesn't sound like enough, you say? Ten minutes a day, five days a week is 50 minutes.
A ten-minute walk can boost your energy for two hours
Exercising 30 minutes a week can reduce depression by 12%
Do not ever think that 5 or 10 minutes a day is not enough.
For most people the number one strategy for improving menopause health is to change your diet.
I have written extensively about this on this site. See these pages for more.
discusses the impact of menopause on health and diet, motivation to change, introduction to Dr. Weston Price and his discoveries about nutrition and disease, which foods to eat, which foods to avoid
a healthy diet includes healthy fats. Low-fat is not beneficial. There is no evidence that saturated fat increases CHD risk. Trans fats, vegetable fats and their effect on health. Healthy macronutrient ratios. Impact of fructose and polyunsaturated fatty acids on health.
Foods for Menopause
eat less soy, more saturated fat, butter, and whole fat dairy. Many people cannot make vitamin A from beta carotene. High protein and osteoporosis, digestion.
Diet and Depression
The importance of healthy fats, the impact of soy, gluten, caffeine, sugar, white flour, low calorie, low protein, preservatives and additives, and the importance of the B vitamins in depression.
Menopause and Exercise: Benefits of Exercise for Menopause Health
The number two menopause health strategy is exercise. Exercise:Increases energy
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance
Yoga is an excellent exercise choice for menopause health. From the back cover of Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause (Francina, 2003), “...you'll see how yoga can help you:
Relieve hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms
Alleviate anxiety, mood swings, fatigue and depression
Strengthen bones and reduce bone loss
Prevent heart disease and increase cardiovascular strength
Support pelvic health and alleviate common problems like heavy bleeding”
In addition to diet and exercise, protecting yourself from toxins in your environment - EMFs, chemicals in your food, air, water and personal care and cleaning products – will improve your menopause health.
Emotional and spiritual work will also help with your menopause health. Stress is especially hard on you, and we all have too much stress these days. Make sure you take time to relax and rejuvenate.
Conditions that may be sabotaging your menopause health
You may have one or more issues, undiagnosed or untreated, that is/are sabotaging your ability to get well and feel well.
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar is a good example of a condition that will do this. You will never be able to feel well consistently and eliminate substances that are bad for you, like coffee.
And if you are doing many things right, you will still be on a roller coaster, of some days feeling well or even great, and many others feeling like crap. I know because I just discovered that I have this condition, and it explains many of the questions and struggles I have had up until now with my menopause health.
Low thyroid (hypothyroidism)
There are multiple problems in the current medical diagnosis and treatment of low thyroid function. The diagnostic test used is often not adequate to diagnose thyroid problems. If you do get a low thyroid result, you don't get tested for Hashimoto's, which is an autoimmune thyroid disease.
In fact, most people with low thyroid have this disease, but many don't know it. And if you do have it, you will not be treated for it.
You will be given synthetic T4 until your TSH comes into range. This is completely inadequate for many people. I am one of them. If you are as well, you will watch your health deteriorate while being told you're fine by doctors, and you will not know what to do to help yourself. For more, see
Thyroid and Menopause
Digestive Health, Food Sensitivities and Leaky Gut Syndrome
I have recently begun to understand in a whole new way how important gut health is. Without it, you cannot feel well. Your digestive system uses up a lot of energy, and the worse it functions, the more energy it will require. The following diseases are now associated with poor digestive function, according to Lipski (2012):
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Excema or Atopic Dermatitis
Obesity and metabolic syndrome
And of course all the digestive diseases and conditions.
And if you have food sensitivities and don't know it, you can end up with increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. This is just one more issue that will sabotage your menopause health.
Leaky gut is associated with another long list of diseases, many of them different from those mentioned above. Many of the leaky gut symptoms sound a lot like menopause or low thyroid symptoms, for example: bloating, chronic joint pain, fatigue and malaise, mood swings and poor memory.
This is just the beginning of the discussion on digestive health. I highly recommend reading the book by Lipski (2012), called Digestive Wellness. It's packed with helpful information. For more on digestion and bloating, see the following pages:
Menopause and Digestion
– how digestion works, 3 types of herbs to improve digestion
– food sensitivities, way food is processed is the problem, most common problem foods, diet, supplements, herbs, hormone imbalance, wind-relieving pose
– causes, herbs, food preparation and fermentation, enzymes, probiotics, food sensitivities, thyroid issues
Are you really healthy? A Story about Menopause Health, or Lack of It
I had and experience this month (December, 2011) that caused me to change my reference point for health. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in 1993. Most people know this disease as low thyroid or hypothyroidism.
Most doctors do not test for Hashi's, which is an autoimmune disease, nor do they treat the disease. They use one test, the TSH, which is woefully inadequate by itself for diagnosis, and if you have low thyroid, according to that test (you may have low thyroid and pass the test just fine), you will be treated with thyroid hormone and told you will have to take it for the rest of your life.
What they won't tell you, is that you may never feel well again, and that you are now at increased risk for heart disease, other autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer's, Epstein Barr Virus, depression, osteoporosis, and more.
But don't bother asking a doctor for help, they won't. I developed shortness of breath almost the same day I started taking thyroid medication. My doctor, who is well known in the natural health field, told me that “just because you're healthy doesn't mean you're going to feel good.” WHAT?!?
I have had four doctors since then treat my thyroid condition. Some of them refused to try any of the medication choices available today, even though I complained repeatedly of not feeling well.
And these are “alternative” doctors! I only use docs that have been trained in some form of natural medicine, and I still can't get good care when it comes to this disease.
Until now. I found a new doctor, a chiropractor, actually. She specializes in functional endocrinology and clinical nutrition for Hashi's patients. The first step was to do extensive blood testing.
As I sat in her office, listening to her tell me that I had an infection, parasites, a poorly functioning digestive system and liver, and low blood sugar, the feeling I had is hard to describe.
All these other doctors are telling me I'm fine. And this one is telling me I'm not fine, not at all. In one sense, it's a relief.
There really are reasons I feel so crappy some days. But it's also so very revealing about the state of health in this country, and in this time in history.
We all are getting sicker and sicker, and it passes for normal.
Francina, S. (2003). Yoga and the wisdom of menopause. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.
Lipski, E. (2012). Digestive wellness (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
Created December 22, 2011.
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