As women and non-binary people with ovaries, our oestrogen and progesterone levels decline normally between the ages of 45 and 55 years old leading to menopause and ovulation finishing. Lower levels of oestrogen can impact our health in many ways including increasing our risk of heart disease and cancer, osteoporosis due to bone density decreasing, changes to the lining of our vagina and urinary system, and links to depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many symptoms of menopause and everyone will experience these differently. For those of us that have had hormone or oestrogen positive cancer, we might experience the symptoms of menopause with hormone treatment which is used to treat our cancer. Menopause also increases the risk of breast cancer.
I've always been interested in how we can use diet and lifestyle to support both menopause symptoms and to prevent some of the risks. This year's theme is about bone health as menopause can negatively impact bone health, particularly if you have not been looking after your bones before the age of 30. The reduction of oestrogen production can affect the amount of calcium in our bones and this can lead to a decrease of bone density which is known as osteoporosis. Many people experience accelerated bone loss when they finish their periods and go through menopause.
Weight-bearing exercise and a diet high in calcium (through eggs, oily fish, dairy products, dark leafy greens, small bony fish, sesame seeds) and vitamin D through sunshine, food or supplements can help with supporting bone density. Reducing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking can also help.
There are many of aspects of diet and lifestyle to be discussed which can impact menopause including eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants, phytoestrogens and supports the gut microbiome, different types of exercise including yoga, meditation and breath work and more. I've written about how our diet can support delaying our menopause which can support our health in the Telegraph - read more here. If you are a health care professional, I've shared more about the estrobolome and the oestrogen-gut brain axis for Symprove.
If you would like to know more about personalised menopause care and support through diet, lifestyle, nutrigenomics and functional medicine, do contact me to find out more!