What is Menopause?
Menopause is universal: all women have a certain number of eggs and when it reaches a certain level, ovulation stops and the rules disappear. It happens somewhere between 40 and 55 years, with a statistical average of 51 years. It is defined by an absence of periods of more than one year. Women will have a transition phase that can begin in their forties with the appearance of longer, shorter and irregular menstrual cycles.
Some Interesting Figures
In addition to this change, there is a hormonal imbalance especially at the level of estrogen and progesterone. According to estimates, only 20% of Western women experience this transition without feeling too many problems, 60% live this change without being too disabling and, for 20%, it is hell.
All women live this stage. What is special about Japanese women is:
Hot flashes and night sweats felt by 75% of Western women, compared with only 10% of Japanese women;
Osteoporosis, heart disease and breast cancer incidences are much less common among Japanese women.
It was Margaret Lock, a researcher in anthropology at the Université de Montréal, who made this discovery in the 1980s. Several factors are responsible for this difference.
A Different Attitude
In the West, women see menopause as a decline and it is feared. In Japan, we hardly talk about it. There is no word in the vocabulary for “menopause”. We are talking about a change in life (the word used is “konenki”). This vision of this change in women emphasizes the importance of psychology in accepting this stage of life. On the one hand, one dreads his arrival and, on the other, one accepts it with serenity.
A Different Diet
On the food side, there would be consumption of soy. In Asian countries that consume 2 to 3 servings a day, there is a low rate of prostate cancer and breast cancer. Same thing for hot flashes, vaginal dryness and cardiovascular risks. In addition, its consumption would help in the protection against osteoporosis. However, the effectiveness of soy would depend on the composition of your intestinal flora. In which foods do we find soy? Miso, tempeh, tamari or shoyu sauce. There is also milk, yoghurt and soy dessert cream, as well as tofu.
But are these the only things that can help menopause problems? No, and several other recommendations are within your reach.
If the onset of menopause is synonymous with hormonal changes, it would be normal to offset the decline of estrogen and progesterone by the consumption of synthetic hormones. And that’s what the scientific community tried to do between the 1960s and today. But many health problems came with the use of one or other of these hormones. So much so that today the motto is to avoid treating the symptoms with hormones, unless they are too disabling. In these cases, try to have the lowest possible doses.
One factor that is often associated with the onset of menopause is weight gain. Decreased estrogen causes overweight to become lodged in the area of the abdomen. However, the increase in weight is mainly due to a slowdown in your metabolism, dietary changes and a more sedentary lifestyle.
Take this step to make changes to your lifestyle. What do you eat? Do you have coffee and alcohol in large quantities? Maybe you eat processed foods? Do you favor fruits, vegetables and cereals? You eat more than you need? Are you physically active? In addition to increasing your caloric expenditure and fortifying your cardiovascular system, regular exercise is a great way to prevent osteoporosis and have an impact on hot flashes.
To counter osteoporosis, would it be a good idea to consume more dairy products? According to research done in Finland, Sweden and Denmark, three countries with a very high consumption of dairy products, there would be many more hip fractures than in Japan and India where the consumption of these foods is lower. In addition, calcium from cow’s milk would be more difficult to absorb than from green vegetables, fresh and dried fruits, oilseeds (almonds, sesame, etc.), legumes, cereals and eggs.
How to counter hot flashes with food?
Three foods would be beneficial for reducing hot flashes. Sage taken as an infusion three times a day (1 teaspoon of dry leaves). Black cohosh is another herb that is effective against hot flashes, as well as insomnia, mood disorders, anxiety and depression. The last food is more accessible: tomato juice. Taken twice daily, this juice would reduce hot flashes, anxiety and mood disorders.
For hot flushes, clary sage essential oil is excellent, but it is contraindicated for women who have had mastosis or have a history of hormone-dependent cancer. How to take it? Orally, two drops on a neutral tablet to take morning, noon and night for a week. Or dilute three drops in a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Massage on the lower belly in the morning and evening for 20 days. For anxiety, neroli essential oil extracted from bitter orange flowers is excellent. When you feel the need, put two drops on the inside of your wrist, rub your wrists together and take deep breaths.
This text is based on the article by Annie Casamayou (naturopath, reflexologist and yoga teacher) entitled “Menopause: do as the Japanese! “, Published in the journal Revelations Health and Well-being of January 16, 2018.