“Me­la­tonin is only pro­duced in the dark, so dim the lights at least one hour be­fore bed”

Country Living (UK) - - Health & Beauty -

REST­LESS SLEEP

The hor­mone me­la­tonin helps to con­trol our sleep/ wake cy­cle, so it’s no sur­prise that smaller vol­umes are linked to poor sleep and mild de­pres­sion. “Me­la­tonin is also an an­tiox­i­dant, and hav­ing low lev­els can af­fect the brain, skin, heart, eyes and im­mune sys­tem,” says nutri­tion­ist Nina Omo­toso. It is only avail­able on pre­scrip­tion in the UK, but there are nat­u­ral alternatives that may help. “Sup­ple­ments of tart cherry or as­phalia (a mix of wheat and bar­ley grasses) could help to re­bal­ance your sys­tem,” she con­tin­ues.

In­creas­ing your lev­els of the amino acid tryp­to­phan helps to kick-start me­la­tonin pro­duc­tion in the body. It’s found in sun­flower seeds, spir­ulina, sal­mon and eggs, so try in­clud­ing th­ese in the last meal of the day. “Me­la­tonin is only pro­duced in the dark,” Nina Omo­toso adds, “so switch off your phone, TV and lap­top, and dim the lights at least one hour be­fore bed­time.” Try Cherry Ac­tive (£12.95 for 30 cap­sules, re­vi­tal.co.uk).

CON­STANT CRAV­INGS

Ghre­lin is the hor­mone that tells the brain when you’re hun­gry, and lep­tin passes on the mes­sage that you’re full. When the two don’t work in har­mony, it’s easy to over-eat. A good night’s sleep is key to keep­ing this bal­ance. In one clin­i­cal trial, where the sleep of vol­un­teers was re­stricted, lep­tin lev­els de­creased and the de­sire for car­bo­hy­drates and su­gary foods in­creased by a mas­sive 45 per cent.

Eat­ing soup be­fore a meal may also help to re­duce the num­ber of calo­ries you con­sume over­all. “This is be­cause soup stops cells in the stom­ach from pro­duc­ing ghre­lin, which turns off your ap­petite,” ex­plains Dr Glenville. Also try tak­ing a zinc sup­ple­ment, such as Boots Zinc (£6.99 for 180 tablets, boots.com) – a study dis­cov­ered that it in­creases lev­els of lep­tin. Other re­search found that a com­bi­na­tion of fish oils and chromium helped to curb any crav­ings. Try NHP Omega 3 Sup­port (£29.77 for 60 cap­sules, nat­u­ral­health­prac­tice.com) or Lam­berts GTF Chromium (£10.99 for 100 tablets, nat­u­ral­health­prac­tice.com).

THINNING HAIR

Testos­terone dom­i­nance of­ten hap­pens when lev­els of fe­male hor­mones drop. “This isn’t just con­fined to the menopause, but also hap­pens cycli­cally for some women,” phar­ma­cist Shabir Daya says. “Symp­toms can in­clude acne, de­pres­sion, weight gain and thinning hair.”

Di­in­dolyl­methane (DIM) is a com­pound that is formed in your body dur­ing the di­ges­tion of foods that con­tain the nu­tri­ent in­dole-3-carbinol, which is found in cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles. It is thought that DIM may help to pro­mote a healthy bal­ance of oe­stro­gen and testos­terone, so in­crease your in­take of veg­eta­bles such as broc­coli, cab­bage, kale and Brus­sels sprouts.

“Stud­ies in­di­cate that drink­ing two cups of spearmint tea a day may help to re­duce male hor­mones, in­clud­ing testos­terone,” Shabir Daya adds. Try Pukka Three Mint Tea (£2.99 for 20, pukka­herbs.com), or you could make fresh mint tea if you grow your own herbs.

HOT FLUSHES

Around the time of the menopause, it’s nat­u­ral for oe­stro­gen lev­els to fall and for you to ex­pe­ri­ence hot flushes, mood swings and joint ache. “The trick is to use herbs to help lev­els fall grad­u­ally over time, pre­vent­ing oe­stro­gen crashes and al­low­ing you to ac­cli­ma­tise to the changes,” ex­plains Mon­ica Wilde, di­rec­tor of Napiers the Herbal­ists. She sug­gests sip­ping cooled sage tea made with an in­fu­sion of fresh leaves to calm hot flushes, or tak­ing a sup­ple­ment, such as Dried Sage Leaf (£5.75 for 100g, napiers.net). Many women also use ag­nus cas­tus, black co­hosh or red clover to help bal­ance hor­mones dur­ing the menopause.

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is a must, so head out for a walk in the coun­try­side. “Even a brisk walk, five times a week, will help to man­age menopausal symp­toms. Re­sis­tance train­ing [with hand weights or re­sis­tance bands] is great for main­tain­ing bone den­sity and re­duc­ing your chances of os­teo­poro­sis,” Mon­ica Wilde adds. Try Napiers the Her­bal­ist Midlife Mix: Black Co­hosh and Sage (£12 for 100ml, napiers.net).

“Head out for a walk in the coun­try­side. Even a brisk walk, five times a week, will help to man­age menopausal symp­toms”

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