Menopause Awareness Month - Understanding Your Body to Help You Thrive During Midlife
October is Menopause Awareness Month - an important month to help women embrace their bodies and gain a better understanding of how we can nourish and thrive during midlife and beyond.
Our in house Nutritionist, Katie Skrine, is passionate about women's health and explains what is going on and offers advice as to how you can support your body at this stage of your life.
What is menopause?
Menopause is actually only one day…. it is the name given to the year anniversary after a woman’s last ever period. Perimenopause is however the years leading up to menopause and in the same way each and every woman is unique, each and every perimenopause journey will be different too. Factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle and diet all have an impact and symptoms will come in many different forms and vary for every individual from intense and debilitating to mild with little or no impact on day-to-day life.
Common symptoms and body changes during menopause
During menopause, the female body undergoes many significant changes due to hormonal fluctuations, primarily a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone production. These hormonal changes can cause women to experience a variety of symptoms.
Common symptoms can include night sweats, weight gain, skin issues, reduced energy levels, migraines and low mood. A decline in memory, awareness, and mental ‘sharpness’ are also commonly experienced during perimenopause and menopause. In addition, women often notice the changes that affect their hair and skin as well as joint stiffness or arthritis-type symptoms.
In a similar way our hormones decline, collagen production slows down during menopause and many parts of the body can be affected. Skin can become drier and less elastic and menopause hair loss may become more noticeable. Joints can also become stiffer or ache more and decreases in bone mass and lean muscle tissue start to occur, and weight gain can become more likely.
Does collagen help with menopause?
The short answer is, yes! Taking targeted supplements to help rebuild the natural collagen in our body to help ease many of the symptoms commonly related to menopause like hair loss, dry skin, or joint pain is a no brainer.
Like any supplement, it is essential you choose a high quality product that will be easily absorbed in the body for maximum benefit. True and Wild Collagen by Ancient + Brave have been used by thousands of women in midlife, and who not only see daily benefits but feel it too. These pure and potent daily supplements have been cleverly formulated using the very best ingredients which are easily digestible, highly absorbable clinically researched Type 1 hydrolysed bovine collagen peptides.
Taking collagen daily really can help support our bodies throughout perimenopause and menopause and offer a variety of benefits:
Skin health: Many women report that taking regular collagen supplementation helps support the appearance of their skin. Studies show that taking collagen peptides daily help improve skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling. Getting enough vitamins A, E, and D from foods along with healthy fats can also support the health of your skin and combat dryness.
Arthritis and joint discomfort: Collagen supplements have been shown to improve joint function in people with osteoarthritis, specifically reducing stiffness, aches and discomfort.
Supporting muscles: A diet rich in protein is essential as our bodies mature - both in terms of supporting muscle maintenance as well as repair. A menopausal woman should be aiming to include protein in each meal and a simple, yet effective, calculation to work out how much you should be consuming each day is - 1g protein per 1kg body weight. Collagen is a great way to help boost protein consumption - True Collagen contains 4.5g per serving which is a great way to help you hit your daily target.
Bone mass density: Collagen supplements can aid in slowing the breakdown of bone mass that can increase the risk for osteoporosis. Recent research shows that supplementing with a high quality collagen can help build bone density in pre and postmenopausal women.
Healthy hair:: A blended collagen supplement with added nutrients such as biotin, zinc and vitamin D, will help boost hair growth and quality. Ancient + Brave Radiant Collagyn is a great option for the daily maintenance of healthy hair. Like with skin health during menopause, eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin A, E, and D as well as healthy fats can help your hair look its best.
Nourishing your your body during menopause
Although taking a collagen supplement has many health benefits, it isn’t the only option. There are so many different things we can do to help support and nourish our body to help naturally balance symptoms caused by declining and fluctuating hormones.
Specifically, it is important that we look at our diets, what we consume, why we consume it & understand how nutrition plays a vital role in the way we feel, function & adapt to change. It is not a time for faddy, restrictive, calorie counting diets. It is not a time for winging it, big blow outs or binge eating. It is time to integrate the best possible nutrition to help nourish, support and nurture our bodies.
Here are some key ways in which you can support your body through the right nutrition:
Eliminate processed foods containing high levels of sugar and salt, limit caffeine and alcohol intake and make sure every meal is used as an opportunity to nourish and balance your body. This will not only support with symptoms such as low energy, anxiety and mood but will significantly help reduce inflammation within the body to minimise aches and pains as well supporting your skin health.
Incorporating three nourishing meals a day, without unnecessary snacking, to help balance your body and especially support your blood sugar levels.
Include omega 3 rich foods 3 – 4 times per week - a brain-friendly diet is one rich in
polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega 3, and can have a favourable impact in supporting brain chemistry especially those experiencing brain fog and low mood. For example; eating eggs for breakfast, oily fish such as salmon for lunch, drizzling olive oil over salads, nuts and flax seeds sprinkled over berries are all great ways to enhance everyday meals.
Adding good quality protein to each meal is so important for balance and brain function. It
helps balance blood sugar levels which can help reduce irritability and brain fog, balance
hormones and improve mood. Chicken, fish, lentils, eggs and tofu are all good sources and can be eaten with salads, stir-fries and dahls. Greek yogurt and oats are also a great way to boost protein and kick start your day at breakfast.
Boosting your body with antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, sourced from vibrant
coloured fresh vegetables and fruits such as peppers, spinach, kale, kiwi fruit, berries, broccoli and citrus fruits will help balance out the negative impact of free radical levels which are caused by stress and anxiety. You can add a variety of antioxidant rich foods to your smoothies, salads and roasted vegetables for maximum daily nutrient intake which your body will love.
Supporting gut health with approximately 30g fibre per day from foods such as oats, brown rice, lentils, cruciferous vegetables and fermented foods such as live yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi will help your gut thrive. Supporting your gut health and maintaining balanced gut microbiome (the good bacteria) is important for the break down, metabolism and excretion of oestrogen. Without a healthy gut, oestrogen can build up, leading to an increase in symptoms such as low mood, irritability, anger and depression. Poor gut healthy can also significantly impact your skin and lead to conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and adult acne.
As well as a healthy diet, sleep is a powerful way to help manage hormonal changes. Prioritising restorative sleep is crucial to support overall wellbeing. Poor quality sleep can contribute to ‘brain fog’ and can also be a key trigger of irritability, low mood, anxiety and even depression. It can also have a huge impact on the appearance and health of our skin.
Avoiding eating large meals before bedtime as well as stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol can support better quality sleep. Working on relaxation techniques, such as meditation, journal wiring and practicing breathing techniques can massively help to reduce stress levels and help you ‘switch off’. Taking time to make sure your bedroom is prepared with the right light, temperature and bedding will also help create the right environment to induce a good nights sleep.
As a last thought, whilst midlife for women can feel pretty overwhelming it is important to remember that although there is no magic wand to quickly remedy fluctuating hormones or uncomfortable symptoms there really is so much you can do to help your body thrive. The power of a good diet, balanced lifestyle and targeted supplements can make a huge difference to the way you feel inside and out.