Most women tend to see the menopause as a time of either gaining or losing. What they don’t realise is that we are beautifully primed to cope with most situations by adapting both physically and emotionally (1).
In order to get through this enlightening transition (and I speak from experience when I call it this), we need to hold each other high with cheer and support. We need to instill small habits that have a huge impact day-to-day, such as intermittent fasting, sleep health and daily movement. Doing so will have a huge impact on our health issues and relationships and will determine a pleasurable outcome.
As the wonderful Dr. Christine Northrup - author of ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’ - says: The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution!
I first heard rumblings about the menopause when I was in my late-20’s. My mum would walk around the house muttering something about being in the menopause and constantly needing the windows open as another hot flush subtly crept up on her. I also vividly remember her losing her temper much more than normal and after first questioning the behaviour of our family (maybe we were the problem?), I eventually came to the conclusion that actually she had officially gone mad and I would avoid her at all costs!
I then happily continued through life, content with my regular 28-day menstrual cycle and didn’t give the menopause a second thought. Anyway, it was too far off to affect me.
Fast forward some 10 years. I was now in my late 30’s and coming out of keyhole surgery to have my ovaries removed after testing positive for the BRCA gene (the one that makes you more susceptible to having ovarian or breast cancer). As I exited the hospital, I kept thinking about how straightforward that was, especially ahead of the double mastectomy I was about to have.
How wrong. That innocent keyhole surgery took a mere 4 hours to complete and sent me tail spinning, head first into the menopause! Suddenly, my mum’s words were ringing in my ears - and without her around (she passed away from ovarian cancer in 2015) - I scoured the internet and healthcare providers for some guidance, only to be prescribed antidepressants and told to watch what I ate.
I was at a complete loss, until that is, I found the lifeline that I now know to be intermittent fasting and now some of us (me!) won’t stop telling people (you!) about it. Below I discuss some of the symptoms ladies may experience throughout the menopause and how intermittent fasting can be a fundamental help in the journey.
It’s estimated that around 80% of us will experience unpleasant menopausal symptoms at some point. The most common amongst them are hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, moodiness, tension and anxiety - all of which have a huge impact on our stress management (2).
The good news is the tide is beginning to turn as we talk openly about these issues and discover new ways of dealing with the symptoms. Recent studies show that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on mental health (3) and whilst further investigation is needed into the studies, it’s a promising start.
Each one of us have trillions of microorganisms - mainly bacteria - living in our intestinal tract. These organisms are also known as our ‘gut microbiome’ and their functions are critical to our health and wellbeing by helping out with digestion and our immune system (a whopping 70% of which is in our gut!).
An imbalance of these microbes can have an impact on our weight, blood sugar levels and high cholesterol - to name a few - and studies have shown that the menopause can alter our gut microbiome. Knowing this information gives us the power to deal with issues relating to our metabolism much earlier, hopefully preventing us going down a slippery slope (4).
Intermittent fasting helps fight menopause symptoms by restricting the time we eat and so reducing the number of hours one eats. Without counting a single calorie, this way of eating can equate to an average of 1-4% weight loss. It also appears to have an impact on improving blood pressure and oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants) and so is a great starting point in getting a handle on our gut - so to speak (5).
Lastly, let’s talk about our bones. The most important risk factor for bone loss in midlife women is the menopause.
Women lose about 50% of their trabecular bone (also known as the spongy bone because of its appearance) and 30% of their cortical bone (the bone’s dense outer layer) during the course of their lifetime - about half of which is lost during the first 10 years after the menopause.
Approximately 40% of all postmenopausal women will eventually experience fractures (6) but it’s not all doom and gloom!
Intermittent fasting has been shown to affect our parathyroid hormone which in turn, is thought to benefit our bone health and the bone remodelling process. It also has a possible role in preventing inflammation which is a major contributing factor in musculoskeletal disorders (7).
Yes, the menopause can insidiously creep up on us and temporarily knock us down. However, by implementing small and positive habits, we can have a huge impact on the way we manage our symptoms.
Intermittent fasting helps fight menopause symptoms by instilling a daily habit that is so easy to implement and free. So try it today and when you do, tell your girlfriends about it, so they can tell their girlfriends… and before you know it we’ve turned the problem into the solution.
To join other unique and fabulous women all on similar journeys, please join our intermittent fasting community for women only.
Keto and intermittent fasting are two diet that can combined. Find out what benefits you could get by doing so.
Drinking black coffee during intermittent fasting increases fat burning and triggers autophagy, improving health.