To hear some doctors tell it, hot flashes, sleeplessness, and mood swings are normal — and unavoidable — parts of menopause. But Aviva Romm, MD, author of Hormone Intelligence, says that’s just not true. At least 80 percent of women struggle with a hormonal problem significant enough to disrupt quality of life, but there are easy solutions for menopause symptoms, assures Dr. Romm.
“If you’re sick and tired of feeling hijacked by your hormones, you’re not alone,” she promises. “Far too many women have endured far too much discomfort for far too long, and you don’t just have to grin and bear it anymore.” Read on for the secrets that will help you master your hormones and menopause symptoms to feel your best!
Create a Sleep Cave
“The sleep hormone melatonin helps regulate the production of estrogen and progesterone,” says Dr. Romm. To ensure optimal melatonin levels, she advises turning your room into a sanctuary. To do so, limit light, which suppresses the production of sleep hormones. To guarantee deep sleep, wear an eye mask and turn on a fan: The white noise drowns out sleep-robbing sounds and keeps you cool, which boosts melatonin.
Nourish Your Brain
“Maca root is an adaptogen: an herb that has the unique ability to help the body cope with stress,” says Dr. Romm. It’s also rich in compounds that support hormone function. The payoff: In one study, women given maca root reduced brain fog, hot flashes and mood swings by 84 percent. Dr. Romm suggests taking 600 mg. of standardized maca in capsules (Buy on Amazon, $16.67) daily.
“Women are disproportionately exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals on a daily basis,” says Dr. Romm. “For example, when we’re doing the shopping, the receipts we handle are often coated in BPA, which alters estrogen levels.” To reduce your risk, instead of grabbing the receipt at checkout, ask for an e-receipt — many stores now offer this option.
Putter in the Garden
“Any activity that brings you into contact with soil, plants, or animals that spend time outdoors will increase your opportunity for exposure to microbial diversity,” notes Dr. Romm. That’s important because the bacteria in your digestive tract are responsible for helping the body eliminate about 20 percent of excess estrogen that can cause hormonal problems.
These nutty-flavored gems are rich in plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens), which aid in hormone balance. “When estrogen levels are high, phytoestrogens block excess estrogen,” says Dr. Romm. “And when estrogen is low, they can provide enough to keep estrogen levels supported.” Aim to enjoy one cup of seeds throughout the week, adding them to smoothies, yogurt, salads, or sauces.
Make it Easier to “Go”
“Having a regular daily bowel movement will allow your body to get rid of excess hormones,” says Dr. Romm. To move your bowels more easily, she recommends getting a toilet stool that makes it easy to sit on the toilet with your knees raised into a “squat” position — this opens up the colon, making bowel movements more complete to help remove excess hormones and restore balance.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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