I hope this has got your attention, but I'm sure you're thinking 'I'm not starving, on the contrary I'm putting on weight!' However, that's not exactly what I meant, but now I have your attention I'll explain why your symptoms are your brain and body starving... of vital minerals and nutrients.
In fact your brain and body are in pain, just not the kind of stabbing pain that you associate with taking pain killers for. These pains are more like groans, and aches, lethargy and fogginess. Getting slower, getting more tired, not handling situations like you used to, and getting emotional way too easily for your liking and sometimes embarrassment; yes I've been there too!
When I first started helping women alleviate their peri/menopause symptoms naturally (and post menopausal too!) I thought Shiatsu (my therapy) could solve everything, but it couldn't, and I had to come to this realiseation and then think about how I could help women alleviate all of their symptoms. Going back to my books, looking at the energetic patterns that the symptoms group together to create, thinking about what is behind it all and I came to this one word:
WHAT DOES DEPLETION MEAN?
If you think about how you feel, you feel tired, so you're missing your energy, if you feel anxious or emotionally volatile you're missing feeling grounded, robust and calm. A lot of the symptoms of the perimenopause fall into the arena of depletion, and this is a 180 turn about from the symptoms of the actual menopause that are 'Excessive'. Symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats, you've got too much heat, you've got to get rid of it - that's excess, and do you know what? That's a lot easier to resolve than what you're going through right now, a stage of serious depletion.
If you're missing things in your body, then something is causing that to be the case, so what's different? You may not have changed your diet, and we can't say the exclusion of caffeine and alcohol is a good reason, and you maybe thinking 'sugar', but no sadly that's something we really shouldn't be adding more of. What you're actually depleted in is minerals.
You may already have started eating more healthily, this is only good but is it really enough to give your body what it needs. Sadly not, in this era we can not get enough nutrients from our food. It doesn't matter how hard you try, even if you're 100% organic you won't get enough of the vital minerals that your body needs. I can prove this point. I ate a lot of magnesium 'rich' foods, I had dozens of almonds a day, I thought I was being really good (and I was) but my sleep was deteriorating about 3/4 years ago. After about a month or 2 of really bad sleep, and some tentative steps into the world of supplements I thought I would try Magnesium. I wasn't sure I really needed it, I didn't know when/if it would work. Well, it worked that night!
My sleep came back that night and was great, so I was shocked (in a good way) that just adding in one mineral had this effect on me. I was lucky at such quick relief, it can take longer for most.
WHAT ARE YOU DEPLETED IN?
Let's look at some scientific facts (thanks to hormonesbalance.com for compiling this):
It’s estimated that up to 75% of the United States population may be deficient in magnesium. (Journal of Evidence Based Integrative Medicine, April 17, 2011)
A 2010 study found that nearly 68% of the United States population is deficient in calcium. (The Journal of Nutrition, April 2010)
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates about 25% of the world’s population is deficient in iron. (Public Health Nutrition volume 12, 2009)
According research published by WHO, approximately 31% of the world’s population is deficient in zinc. (Comparative Quantification of Health Risks, 2004)
A Swiss study published in 2012 estimates that about 33% of the world’s population is deficient in iodine. (Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 2012)
Pretty vital nutrients that we need to have in our bodies to run smoothly throughout life, don't you think? Magazines, health food stores, and supplement companies put out information claiming that food isn’t as nutritious as it used to be; but is that really true?
Sadly yes it is, even organic foods. Eating healthy is no longer enough to give our bodies what they need to maintain optimal health. We’re lacking in vital nutrients – especially key minerals and this comes from the way our food is farmed. It's so intensive that the soil isn't getting the chance to replenish with the vital nutrients our food needs to make it as nutritious as it once was.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M DEPLETED IN MINERALS?
Do you have great health? Are you bursting with energy? Do you not get ill in the winter? Is there not an ache in your body? Are you happy pretty much all of the time? You're not anxious at all?
If you can say yes to all of the above then you're doing brilliantly and you're most likely not deficient at all and I want to know your secret!!
If however you're in the peri/menopause with symptoms, it's this simple - you are.
This is because the actual stress caused by the hormonal change leeches your body of the spare nutrients it may have, Cortisol the stress hormone goes on the rampage for your nutrition to help repair your body, you'll feel this as aches and pains appearing, brain fog and lowering moods. If your body can't get enough then the symptoms get more extreme.
The first stage to feeling better is to feed your body additional nutrients to help the cortisol do its job, it's trying to replenish your nervous system. Then we can move onto why you're stressed, what inflammation you have going on, is your gut poorly, is your liver toxic; but firstly, take a multi vitamin and additional magnesium! I recommend the Women's Wholefood Multivitamin and Biofood Magnesium from Cytoplan - both plant based. Click here and download the 'When should I take my supplements' guide and you'll get worthwhile discount codes!
WHY IS MY FOOD NOT GIVING ME THE MINERALS?
In the past, farmers were much more likely to see themselves as the earth’s stewards, preserving the mineral-rich soil for seasons and generations to come.
To accomplish this, they would return mineral-rich wastes from both plants (compost) and animals (manure, bone meal, fish meal) to the soil to feed the microorganisms that thrived there. The plants would then assimilate those minerals and other nutrients and make them bioavailable to humans and animals that consumed them.
This still happens today, but to a lesser extent when the soil is lacking minerals. This is in part due to our negligence in purposely adding mineral-rich substances back into the soil. Also crop rotation was once a common practice and is now compromised.
A portion of the farmland would rest each year, with manure from grazing animals added to the soil during that year to help replenish the minerals.Then it would be enriched yet again, ready for its turn as active farmland. A different portion was allowed to rest each year in a rotating manner.
As a part of the crop rotation, some farmers also chose to plant the land left fallow with particular crops that could restore it. Without those traditional farming practices, the farmland gets demineralized over time, leading to lower quality produce from that land. Here's just one example, the humble apple:
HOW DO I FILL THE NUTRITIONAL GAP?
You should be eating as healthily as possible, nothing beats plant based nutrients, so a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, harking back to our hunter gatherer days is the best way to get a decent amount of nutrients; but if you still have symptoms this proves this really isn't enough. This is when I turned to really looking into nutritional supplements, as opposed to herbal ones (they came later). A quick recap on the difference between the two:
Nutritional - vitamins and minerals - adding something back into your body that is missing.
Herbal - has an energetic effect on organs, blood, energetics of your body, the aim is to bring you back into balance.
Even though my discipline is Chinese medicine I do start with nutritional supplements as I think this shows results quickly, gets your brain back into gear somewhat and then we can start working on the imbalances that are remaining within.
There are so many trace minerals that your body requires for your overall health and balancing your hormones, and there are 3 primary areas in the body they support:
Bones (calcium, magnesium and phosphorus) and connective tissues (magnesium for muscles)
The nervous system (potassium, supports the transmitting of electrical impulses and your overall heart health)
Metabolism and repair Magnesium is needed for over 100 enzymatic reactions and Zinc is needed for over 200. Did you know that the first thing they put you on if you're in ICU is a Magnesium drip?
Another thing to understand is that you need the supportive trace minerals alongside some of the major ones, for example copper to support zinc. This is why it's best to start with a good multi vitamin, you're getting your balance of minerals, it's your baseline, it's reconstructing the body's chemical building blocks, or you can see it as putting fresh oil into your car engine. The more you have this good baseline of vital nutrients the less likely you are to feel symptoms or get ailments.
I see often that women are taking herbal supplements and maybe some extra vitamin B12 or D3; I feel it's a bit of dabbling here and there without knowing what really should be taken. This isn't anyone's fault as we're not taught this but it needs to change not only for our health through the menopause but setting ourselves up for good health in longevity - avoiding the dreaded osteoporosis and heart disease the 2 main selling points of HRT.
They are right, with the decline of oestrogen these 2 life changing older age issues for women are massively important to us, however if you understand the correct nutrition you should be having (along with lifestyle to support) you can avoid both (see my freebie chaper Life After Oestrogen here).
HOW I HELPED MY ENERGY
I'd been on a multi vitamin, magnesium, omega 3, vitamin D3, Starflower oil and they had all along the way made a real difference in resolving various symptoms of perimenopause as they arose. Then I got Covid, and it left me pretty fatigued for a couple of months. I needed something else, and I didn't know what, until I learned about Trace minerals. Understanding how these differ from a multi vitamin is enlightening. Trace minerals are farmed from deep below the earth; prehistoric compost! Dug up from areas of rich plant minerality (I know about deposits in the US and Hungary so far!) they allow us to absorb bioavailable nutrients (this means your body is far more likely to absorb a greater percentage of the nutrients than a normal multi-vitamin).
I'm always looking to cut down on supplements, find 'the one', the magic pill to help resolve all symptoms in just one swallow.... but I'm not there, but I believe I'm on the way with finding this supplement that is a blend of antioxidants, trace minerals, liver support, additional vitamin D3, and some extra selenium - it's called Lonicera Longevity and when I took it I felt the difference, so did my best friend, so did my clients. I became confident enough to phase out some of the other supplements (like MVs, Mg and D3) as they were all in this one. Next month I'll talk about how blending herbal with nutritional supplements will really start to kick those symptoms once and for all!
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
It took me a lot of time to slowly step through and try things and document how they helped me, but I'm trying to speed up that process for you. Once I was confident what worked for me and my clients I put them in my book 'Understanding Your Menopause', available on Amazon in your local country, don't need to order from the UK, or you can download the website version - find all options here.
If you'd like to learn and be supported in a great community, join my group on facebook: Successful Natural Menopause, and join in the conversation!