If you’re approaching menopause—most women go through it between age 40 and 58—you might be thinking, ugh, when do the hot flashes start?
But the truth is, no two women experience menopause in the same way! Some breeze through it with minimal symptoms, while others get hit with the full spectrum: insomnia, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, vaginal changes, brain fog, weight gain, and (everyone’s favorite) hot flashes.
Now here’s the good news—if you’re going through the rough stuff, there are lots of ways to manage menopause symptoms naturally and make life a whole lot more comfortable.Read on for 12 holistic strategies to smooth your transition and welcome this new season of life. After all, menopause can be a time of opportunity—to embrace change, be healthy, and age happily. (Plus, no more periods or PMS, woop!)
1. Eat more phytoestrogens
To deal with uncomfortable menopause symptoms, some women turn to hormone replacement therapy, which has some back and forth research on safety and effectiveness. Another option, if you’re looking for a way to naturally manage hormone imbalances, is to eat foods high in phytoestrogens—a natural alternative to synthetic estrogen.
Non-GMO, organic soy-based foods, like edamame, tofu, and miso, are especially rich in phytoestrogens, but they can also be found in foods like grapes, berries, green tea, flax seeds, chickpeas, lentils, oats, and barley.
2. Opt for a plant-based diet—and steer clear of trigger foods
In general, eating well during menopause looks a lot like eating well at other times in your life. We’re talking lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (like olive oil, nuts, and seeds.)
However, there are a few unique nutritional needs that come with menopause too. In particular, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can help ease hot flashes. Be mindful, too, that you’re moderating your intake of sugar and processed foods, which can also aggravate hot flashes and cause weight gain (as your metabolism slows during menopause).
3. Try intermittent fasting
Remember the freshman 10? Well, something similar can happen come menopause. Our metabolism slows as we age and insulin levels can get thrown off by hormonal changes.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to manage weight and regulate insulin levels—such as intermittent fasting! Intermittent fasting essentially means that you plan out when you eat—and don’t eat—creating cycles of fasting and fueling. Learn more about how it works, plus, some things to consider before you get started, here.
4. Keep your bones strong
The decrease of estrogen during menopause can weaken your bones—women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the 5-7 years after menopause!
But there are some super simple ways to protect yourself and keep your bones strong throughout the hormone changes of menopause:
- Get enough calcium in your diet or via supplements
- Get enough vitamin D (supplements are probably the best option here). Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption.
- Exercise! In particular, weight-bearing exercises are great for your bones. Shoot for 30 minutes daily, if you can.
5. Manage stress
The hormone changes that happen during menopause can trigger increased stress in the body, as well as increased anxiety and depression for some. PLUS, the symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and disrupted sleep, don’t do much to help matters—they can be stressful to deal with in and of themselves!
So what can you do to keep your stress in check? Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can all be helpful places to start. Self care is also super important—get enough sleep, take time to relax, eat well, exercise. And not to be a fun sucker, but you may consider avoiding caffeine and alcohol to reduce stress as the long-term effects can outweigh the short-term feel-goods.
6. Move your body
If you’re going through menopause, I absolutely recommend getting regular exercise, ideally 30 minutes each day. Why? Well, we all know exercise is good for us, but it can have extra benefits during this season of life! Get that body movin’ and you can reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, boost your metabolism (which often takes a hit during menopause, slowing down as estrogen decreases), and help keep your bones healthy and strong—particularly if you do weight-bearing exercises.
But really, pick whatever form of movement feels best to you! Dancing (my personal fave), yoga, walking/jogging, tai chi, weights…the sky’s the limit! Even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, every little bit counts.
7. Add maca to your smoothie
This herbal supplement may be one of the latest “superfood” trends, but for good reason! Maca can help with hormone balance issues, like PMS and irregular periods. And for menopausal women, it can help with symptoms like insomnia, mood issues, brain fog, and hot flashes.
You can find it as a powder, capsule, or liquid. But, real talk: It’s kind of an acquired taste—sort of earthy and malty. To mask the flavor, I recommend adding it to a smoothie along with some raw cocoa powder.
8. Supplement strategically
In addition to maca, here are a few natural supplements I recommend to relieve menopause symptoms:
- Chasteberry: Can reduce PMS and breast pain, regulate periods, and improve fertility by raising progesterone levels
- St John’s wort: Can improve PMS, reduce hot flashes, and increase sexual satisfaction. Also, can improve mood when taken with Chasteberry!
- Berberine: Can lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and help with weight loss
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA): A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, ALA can help regulate blood sugar
- Black Cohosh: Can help prevent hot flashes and night sweats, improve sleep quality, ease PMS symptoms and mood swings, and relieve painful or irregular periods
- Natural Progesterone Cream: Can help prevent bone loss (osteoporosis), vaginal dryness, fibroids, and PMS symptoms. The advantage of using progesterone in topical cream form is that it allows you to have more control over how much you use.
- Magnesium: A lot of us are deficient in this mineral—it’s hard to get enough just from food—but magnesium has been shown to reduce hot flashes and raise serotonin levels to improve mood
- Ginseng: Can help with mood symptoms, trouble sleeping, and brain fog
- Evening Primrose Oil: Can help relieve hot flashes, ease painful or irregular periods, and improve mood
(Note: With any supplement, it’s super important to choose a high-quality, third-party tested, therapeutic product AND make sure there aren’t any reactions with medications and supplements you’re currently taking—so please reach out with any questions before you start a new regimen!)
9. Give acupuncture a shot
In addition to relieving stress and chronic pain, acupuncture can also help reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. And, as a natural alternative to menopause treatments like hormone replacement therapy and other pharmaceuticals, it comes with little-to-no risk of side effects. YAS.
So, if you can get past the whole needles-in-your-face-and-body thing, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
10. Breathe deeply
If you’ve ever used deep breathing to center yourself, meditate, or calm anxiety, you know what a powerful wellness tool it can be. And it turns out breathing exercises can also be a help to women going through menopause—in particular, when it comes to reducing hot flashes!
Want to give it a shot? Try breathing deeply 20 minutes twice a day, with a 5 second inhale, a 10 second hold, and a 5 second exhale.
11. Drink more water
Drinking plenty of water is super important for all of us, but it’s particularly vital for women going through menopause. Why? Well, thanks to things like hot flashes and night sweats, perimenopausal and menopausal women tend to sweat more…and therefore need to drink more water to stay hydrated. Plus—fun fact—the more hydrated you are, the less likely you’ll be to have hot flashes and night sweats in the first place!
In addition, proper hydration can help prevent menopausal weight gain and reduce the bloating that so often goes hand in hand with hormonal changes (everyone’s favorite, right?). It also helps with mood swings, brain fog, and fatigue—and that goes for everyone. So drink up!
12. Give your brain a boost
One of menopause’s more frustrating symptoms can be brain fog: short-term memory problems, difficulty with concentration…just feeling like your going through the day in a haze.
Although it’s not completely clear why this happens—whether it has more to do with hormonal changes or stress levels—there are strategies to combat it.
So if you’ve been in a mental funk lately, here are a couple sure-fire ways to give your brain a lil boost:
- Stay physically active: Moving your body is great for your brain! All those feel-good neurotransmitters work wonders.
- Challenge your mind: Do crossword puzzles. Learn a new language or skill. Read more books. Play a new game. Take a new route to work. Make time for engaging conversation. Travel. Anything that encourages you to use your mind in different ways!
Heading into menopause, or think you might be soon? Looking for more ways to manage menopause symptoms naturally? Please reach out with any questions…or leave a comment below!