A-List performance expert, nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach Ruben Tabares gives us his top tips for treating the menopause naturally.
HRT is one of the ways in which you can treat the menopause medically…
…but there are natural ways in which women can tackle their symptoms if they can’t or choose not to take HRT. Nutrition and lifestyle of course play a major role in this so let us take a look at some of the things that I would recommend.
Firstly, it is vital to limit the amount of toxins coming into the body by not smoking and drinking coffee which exhaust your adrenals. It is important to brush your teeth with toothpastes that contain as few chemicals as possible while not eating wheat and dairy products and maintaining a healthy balanced diet high in fats such as coconut oil, pumpkin seed oils and olive oil. Olive oil actually contains vitamin E which scientific research shows causes a reduction in hot flushes when 400IU of vitamin E is taken once a day. Omega 3 fatty acids also aid with dry skin, fatigue, depression and aching joints. You can find great sources of Omega 3 in salmon, mackerel and other oily fish and for vegan and vegetarians in chia and flax seeds. I would also recommend staying away from omega 3 capsules.
The great thing about good nutrition is that as long as you stick to the changes you make with your food and lifestyle this can work in conjunction with what your doctor tells you and any medication you may be on including HRT.
…poor food choices and an unhealthy diet can add to the symptoms of menopause and indeed start it earlier than usual.
My other big tip would be to add superfoods such as Maca, Sun Chlorella and Milk Thistle to your diet and vitamin D (preferably from sunshine). Maca is adaptogen and it helps your body adapt to stress, helps balance your endocrine system and supports your thyroid. Sun Chlorella is my version of a natural multi vitamin and mineral; it has active vitamin B12 so it is great for vegans too. Milk Thistle helps to support hormonal balance with its active ingredient, a bioflavanoid called silymarin, which helps the liver detox from excess hormones. Vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis which is a major worry for women going through the menopause. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption which helps keep our bones strong.
As discussed previously, poor food choices and an unhealthy diet can add to the symptoms of menopause and indeed start it earlier than usual. One of the things which is often overlooked but vitally important is dehydration with two out of three of us being dehydrated. Drinking at least three litres of water a day is vitally important to maintaining optimum health and lubricating every part of the body. Green leafy vegetables are also a great source of B vitamins along with meat, fish and eggs. If you’re vegetarian or vegan as I stated above, Sun Chlorella also has active vitamin B12.
Exercise also plays a critical role in the menopause and its side effects such as osteoporosis. It has been scientifically proven that strength training not only helps maintain healthy muscle and muscle tone but also helps keep a strong healthy heart as well as increase bone density.
…make sure that you set attainable goals in the short, medium and long term so that you actually feel good when you achieve them.
High intensity exercise whilst good for you should be kept to a MAXIMUM of two times per week. A brief explanation for this is that HIIT produces free radical damage to the cells. Unfortunately the nutrition in food nowadays is not good enough to help us counteract these effects quickly enough so if you’re doing HIIT too often it actually makes you age quicker so vary your training between strength, HIIT, yoga, stretching and pilates. This again maintains a healthy balance and exercise helps release endorphins which make you feel good.
Goal setting when changing your lifestyle is also just as important as all of the above: make sure that you set attainable goals in the short, medium and long term so that you actually feel good when you achieve them.