Feeling tired, confused and invisible?
Have you spent more nights sweating than you care to remember? Or can you not remember much at all through the brain fog? Are your mood swings through the roof and is your sex drive on the floor? These symptoms, along with insomnia, weight gain, hot flushes, anxiety, and so many more are all common during the menopause. Yay us - but you'll be happy to know that it doesn't have to be this way.
What is Happening in the Menopause?
It's a brain problem, not an oestrogen deficiency problem
Although menopause is perfectly normal, so many women are suffering through this transition and losing their health. Understanding the process of the menopausal transition is key to mastering symptoms and
making it the best time of your life.
The declining level of oestrogen is the hallmark of of the menopause and although the definition of the menopause focuses on reproduction, the symptoms of the menopause are linked to the brain and the nervous system: brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, depression, pain and hot flushes.
The reason for this is that one of oestrogen's functions is to help transport glucose into the brain, where it is used for energy. As oestrogen levels start going down, the brain becomes deprived of glucose and rather than starve, it adapts to another energy source: ketones. Ketones are produced naturally in the liver from your fat stores, if you eat few carbohydrates and moderate amounts of protein. This happens naturally when you are asleep at night, or when fasting.
Ketones produced in the liver travel to the brain and are used as energy. In the absence of ketones the brain starts cannibalising itself: the covering of fat that insulates and protects the nerves - myelin - is broken down and converted to ketones. The nerves are damaged and the brain loses functionality, leading to brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings and hot flushes. As if hot flushes weren't quite enough, they are now seen as a signpost for dementia in later life. In fact a woman’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer.
The liver is a key player
On a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and it becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but the main benefit is that ketones are brain fuel. By giving your brain a unlimited ketogenic supply of energy from your fat stores, you can overcome your menopausal symptoms.
The crucial part of this process is having a healthy liver that can produce a sufficient amount of ketones everyday. Ageing, an excess of carbohydrates, a fatty liver, drinking excess alcohol, exposure to toxins and infections, and having an impaired digestive system can all prevent the production of ketones, and hence make menopausal symptoms worse.
What is happening in the menopausal body?
As the menopausal transition progresses, the body also becomes less able to use sugar as fuel and and more of it will be converted into fat. The classic apple-shaped figure is associated with an increased risk for:
- Fatty liver
- Abdominal obesity
- Hunger and cravings for sugar or carbohydrate rich foods
- Elevated blood sugar
- Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease: coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease
- Skin tags
- Swollen ankles
- Lack of ovulation
- Overstimulation of ovarian testosterone
- Excess hair on the face, hair loss on scalp (male pattern baldness in women)
- Adult acne and large pores on the face.
- Increased risk for breast cancer and endometrial cancer
- Urinary stress incontinence
- Sleep disorders
Your waist/hip ratio is a quick way to gauge your risk. Measure around the fullest part of your buttocks, then measure your waist at the narrowest part of your torso. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. A healthy ratio is less than 0.8, and the ideal is 0.74. A ratio greater than 0.8 is associated with all the health risks listed above.
You can also measure your waist in inches as it directly measures belly fat. If your waist measurement is more than 34.5 inches, there's a strong likelihood that you already have insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
What is the purpose of the menopause?
The only other time that the body has a requirement for ketosis occurs in newborn babies and they are fed breast milk which is very high in fat. Babies are born with a fully formed brain but the nerves are naked - they don't have the fatty myelin coating. Myelination of nerves in babies requires ketosis and a range of nutrients which have a parallel with those required in the menopausal transition, including:
- Iron: iron stores in menopause increase by two- to threefold from before menopause to after menopause.
- Iodine: this is a crucial requirement for nerve myelination and peri-menopausal women are prone to iodine deficiency conditions: hypothyroidism, fibrocystic breasts and ovarian cysts. The increased requirement for iodine may be inducing a state of iodine deficiency in the body.
- Essential fatty acids: DHA - the omega 3 fatty acid consumed from food (such as oily fish) - is an essential fat for the brain and is used to synthesise myelin. Menopausal women who supplement their diet with DHA have found improvements in depression, hot flushes and pain, as well as high cholesterol and osteoporosis. Further, women have a higher requirement for DHA than men.
- Vitamin D: regenerates and repairs myelin, and maintains reproductive function. Women experiencing menopausal symptoms have been found to be deficient in vitamin D.
It seems that in menopause, the female brain is rewiring and is actively building up the myelin sheaths around nerves. When carbohydrate intake is high and ketone supplies are low, the brain cannibalises myelin for fuel and loses functionality. Historically, myelin has been thought of as nothing more than insulation but recent research indicates that myelin is far more actively involved in brain activity than previously thought, in that it organises the structure of brain circuits and can regulate the timing of information as it flows through them. Alterations in the thickness of myelin can potentially increase or decrease the synchronicity of brain regions that work together, making them process information more or less efficiently.
Pre-menopause and during the childbearing years, women are built to be sensitive to their environments, their emotions, and the emotions of others, as guardians of children, family and social units. Women's brains differ from men's brains in that their brains have less nerve insulation and this may partly lead to their increased sensitivity and all that that brings. Menopause may be a process that increasingly insulates women from sensitivity to their environment and allows them to gain time for themselves for the decades to come - if they can master their menopause.
Modern Menopause Program: What to Expect
The fundamental truth about menopausal symptoms is that they originate in the brain.
The longer you wait to take action, the more your brain function may deteriorate.
Going through the menopause is a critical transition period in a woman’s life and can determine her level of health in the years to come. The Modern Menopause Program provides a personalised nutrition, lifestyle and supplement plan that effectively takes care of all aspects of the menopausal transition, and secures vibrant health now and in the future.
The Program includes:
- Personalised clinical nutritional recommendations for optimising weight, liver and brain function as well as promoting heart and bone health, alleviating symptoms.
- Individualised vitamin, mineral and botanical supplement program to address optimal hormone balance.
- Vaginal rejuvenation program to moisturise, hydrate and plump the vagina (if indicated)
- Lifestyle modifications and stress management
- Potent antioxidant support to age beautifully, address physiological ageing and stay youthful inside and out
- Comprehensive health history evaluation
- Nutrition and lifestyle evaluation
- Menopause type evaluation
- Lab tests as needed, including mineral and vitamin status, thyroid and other hormones.
- Protect your brain and prevent dementia: the Modern Menopause Program is designed to protect and enhance brain health, preventing cognitive decline in later years.
- A personalised nutritional and supplement program to address hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, low sex drive, low energy as well as bone and heart health.
- Benefit from a ketogenic diet specially adapted for women in the menopausal transition - whether you want to lose weight or not.
- Avoid the number 1 mistake that women make on the ketogenic diet, upsetting their pH balance which can lead to inflammation, turn down detoxification, depress your mood and upset your hormone balance.
- Stabilise your fluctuating hormones: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones and insulin and coast life in hormonal calm.
- Advice on how to build muscle mass and protect bone health (aerobic exercise can make things worse!)
- Vaginal rejuvenation program addressing vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, urinary tract infections and an overactive bladder.
- No requirement for HRT or bio-identical hormones.
- Practical and meaningful change to enable a healthy and vibrant you.
"I have a pre-existing health condition. Can I still join the program?"
Yes. The program is designed to identify all the pieces of your health puzzle and put them together in a way that enables and healthy vibrant you. You will have a complete health assessment and are likely to experience improvement in all your symptoms as you follow your personal program.
"Who is not a suitable candidate for the program?"
Unfortunately at this time women with type 1 diabetes, and women who are vegan or vegetarian are not suitable candidates for the Program.
"Will I have to survive on skimpy salads and protein shakes?"
No. The program nutrition plan includes plenty of delicious, hearty foods that you will be excited about eating. The recommended foods are high in healthy fats and include appropriate levels of protein and carbohydrates so meals taste great and keep you full for hours.
"What is the vaginal rejuvenation program?"
The vaginal rejuvenation program is intended for women experiencing vaginal dryness and/or atrophy. The program promotes blood flow to the skin of the vulva and vagina and encourages more skin flexibility and thickness.
"How much time is this going to take?"
You can expect to see positive changes within the first few weeks. Progress to full vibrant health will depend on your current state of health and your desire to learn and implement the program. I will be there to support and guide you throughout, as you progress to a more healthy and vibrant you.
- The standard clinic fees apply: £90 for the first consultation lasting 1.5 hours, and £30-£60 for follow up consultations of 30-60 minutes.
Make an appointment:
Please call the Dolphin House Clinic on 01273 324790 or Sandra on 07817664873 to make your first appointment, in clinic or by video link. You will receive the Modern Menopause Program pack which will need to be completed and returned prior to your first appointment. You are welcome to call for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.
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