Lifestyle changes to make when you hit menopause!


Are you struggling with the symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings?  Its likely that you are menopausal! This is a critical transition in your life and requires some intervention in your food and lifestyle habits.

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life as her menstrual cycles come to an end. However, the transition and symptoms associated with menopause can last for several years. While menopause is linked to many uncomfortable symptoms and increases your risk of certain diseases, your diet and lifestyle may help reduce symptoms and ease the transition.

In this article, we will focus on the importance of blood sugar levels and their effect on menopause. Blood sugar is the concentration of glucose found in the blood. Glucose is a very simple carbohydrate that comes from foods like bread, grains, fruits, dairy products, and some vegetables. While glucose is an important fuel for the body, if the concentration of glucose is too high in the blood, it can become very problematic, leading to many complications.

When the blood sugar is out of balance due to prolonged consumption of a high sugar diet, the body processes the instance as stress. Stress triggers the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones – epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. They help the body regulate the stress response by bringing the body back in balance, or homeostasis. The continuous release of stress hormones can deplete the adrenal glands of their function. A prolonged stress response is considered a major priority by the body. It is your ‘fight or flight’ response.

Prior to menopause, the ovaries produce most of the estrogen and progesterone (sex hormones) found in the body. After menopause, ovaries stop producing estrogen. Estrogen instead, comes mainly from adrenal glands. Adrenal function must be supported at this time of transition!

Balancing the blood sugar becomes vital for an easy transition into menopause, as adrenal glands take over the production of estrogen. As mentioned earlier, adrenal glands manage your body’s stress response which can come in the form of a high sugar diet from refined carbohydrates, or stress of daily life. Adrenal function of stress management in the body is favored over  any other endocrine functions. The adrenal glands can “steal” the nutrients and hormone precursors, hence leaving the rest of the endocrine system in lack. Managing your blood sugar is a good place to start balancing the endocrine system, and to manage your symptoms of menopause effectively.

If the adrenal glands have to constantly deal with stress, they can get tired and depleted. This condition is called ‘Adrenal Fatigue’. This causes the adrenals to not make enough estrogen, causing symptoms like  hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, interrupted sleep, obesity, decline in bone density and irritability.

Managing your blood sugar levels can have profound effects on your symptoms. Eating a diet low in carbohydrates, high in protein and good fats, can be very supportive. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like walnuts, flax and chia seeds, may benefit women going through menopause. Phytoestrogens are another category of food that act as weak estrogens in the food. Foods that naturally contain phytoestrogens include flaxseeds, soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, grapes, berries, plums, green and black teas. You may want to limit added sugars, processed carbs, alcohol and caffeine rich foods.

There are supportive herbs available that can help balance adrenal hormonal production and support stress and energy, but also indirectly maintain symptoms of menopause. Herbs such as Siberian Ginseng and Ashwagandha replenish and nurture the adrenal glands, while Holy Basil and Astragalus balance stress and support healthy energy levels. Herbs such as Lemon balm and Hops nourish you while you sleep and promote calmness and relaxation, while Cordyceps and Reishi mushrooms give a nutritive addition. This in turn offers a second benefit – to help manage menopause and fight fatigue, support mental alertness, relieve nerve tension and maintain sleep.

Lastly, I would like to share a recipe for an Adrenal Cocktail which helps in replenishing the nutrients for the Adrenal glands and supports its function.

The Recipe

The Adrenal Cocktail is an orange juice drink composing of just 3 ingredients to support your adrenals during periods of stress and insomnia.

In a glass add –

  • 100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice
  • 200 ml coconut water OR 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar (an excellent source of Potassium)
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt/pink salt

Mix the ingredients well.

The Adrenal Cocktail is best consumed around 10am and/or 2pm, when the body naturally starts to run low on adrenal gland hormones.

You should feel more rejuvenated and less fatigued.

This is not to be used as a meal replacement and should be included as part of a normal diet, where 3 meals a day are consumed.

These simple changes to your diet may make this important transition in your life easier!


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Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.