Gust Blog Post: Top Ten All Natural Menopause Solutions by Drs. Lovera and David Miller
Every day six thousand U.S. women have their final menstrual period. The permanent pausing of menstruation is termed menopause. It signals the end of fertility and the beginning of what we refer to as the UpSide. The average age of natural menopause is 51, plus or minus 10 years. Perimenopausal symptoms may begin ten years before menopause. The inordinate focus on menopause and hot flashes loses sight of the fact that menopause is linked with the onset of serious health matters such as cardiovascular disease, depression, osteoporosis, diminished sexual satisfaction, weight gain, and dementia. In a similar vein, there is often too much attention on cutting-edge prescription hormone therapy and on the myriad of OTC health food store miracle-products for menopause at the expense of self-directed solutions. Wife and husband physician authors Lovera Wolf Miller, MD and David C. Miller, MD are NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioners and their new book, WOMENOPAUSE: STOP PAUSING AND START LIVING, recommends controlling the symptoms of menopause by following the top ten all-natural tips as the bedrock of a menopause makeover.
1. Exercise like your life depended upon it. Thirty minutes daily is a good starting point. Exercise allays a multitude of menopausal problems. Exercise reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes. It helps mood better than Prozac. It improves sleep better than Ambien. It improves sex better than KY. It provides more energy than a Starbucks double-tall-skinny-latte. Feel free to mix it up: walking, yoga, resistance training, biking, anything that gets you sweaty and tired.
2. Weigh less and live more. Notice that weight loss is not included in the exercise category because exercise does not really work for weight loss. Consuming fewer uncompensated calories is what results in weight loss. Even small changes over a period of time can make for good results. Over-weight women suffer from more hot flashes. Weigh yourself regularly and write it down. Shoot for a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less. Weighing less reduces the risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Looking great and having a better self-image are an added bonus.
3. Shape your waist. There is something particularly dangerous about belly fat (the internal visceral fat), which deserves special attention. A waist greater than 35 inches (measured just above the belly button) is predictive of a condition termed the Metabolic Syndrome. It is a constellation of physiological problems that undermine the health of the cardiovascular system leading to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and premature death. The fat around the waist is often very stubborn, but it can be reduced just like an artist makes a sculpture by chipping away little bits of stone day after day.
4. Eat only real food. Real food does not have a label on it. Real food has no marketing slogans or clip-out coupons. We can probably eat as much of it as we want. Real food reduces the risks of dying from heart attacks and strokes, the top two causes of death for American women. Real food containing protein, complex carbs, unsaturated fat, and fiber are less dense in calories than typical fast food-snack food-junk food. For maximum benefit, eat real food with real sized portions with real people having a real conversation, not while watching a “reality show”. It almost goes without saying; avoid putting any known toxin into your mouth (cigarettes, illicit drugs, excessive alcohol, and caffeine).
5. Eat menopause-busting super foods. Vitamin E may reduce bothersome hot flashes and occurs naturally in nuts, wheat germ, whole grains, vegetable oil, vegetables, and seeds. Vitamin C may reduce diabetes and breast cancer and can be found in citrus fruits, green vegetables, and tomatoes. Fish oils improve PMS, cardiac health, vaginal health, and help prevent dementia. It can be found, no joke, in fish. Flax seed oils are a reasonable alternative. Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and is abundant in low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vitamin D is important also in bone metabolism but also in many other cellular functions, and it may reduce, among other things, breast cancer and vaginal infections. The body makes vitamin D naturally through sun exposure to the skin, so go outside everyday for a walk. Other real foods contain nutrients that assist women with menopausal problems and make great choices for calorie intake reduction at the same time: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, low fat cottage cheese, egg whites, and water. Follow the link for a delicious recipe for Lovee’s Hot Flash Patties: http://www.womenopauseinteractive.com/Site/Blog/Blog.html
6. Rehabilitate your sleep schedule. In spite of what you may have heard, adult women need 7-8 hours of sleep. Start by removing the computer and TV from the bedroom. Take control of your sleep environment. Expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning and dim-down the lights in the evening. Save the bed for sleep and sex. Avoid all caffeinated beverages after 12 o’clock noon. Milk, yogurt, peanuts, and cheese encourage a good night’s rest.
7. Mind your mood. Find your way by helping someone else find theirs. Intentionally seeking rewarding opportunities may require some effort. Garlic, cauliflower, and celery contain vitamin B6 that improves the mood matters. For persistent problems get professional advice.
8. Reclaim your sex life. Vaginal dryness of menopause may cause discomfort during intercourse and may undermine a relationship in complicated ways. Vaginal dryness improves with daily olive oil application. Talk to your partner about sex. Reduce any barriers that have built up over time. Feel free to be the romantic one and set the stage.
9. Train your brain to relax. Deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and prayer coax away the near perpetual stress response and promote health. There is no such thing as physical well-being in the absence of mental and spiritual well-being.
10. Say no to abuse. Five million acts of violence occur in the US each year resulting in substantial physical and emotional health consequences. Explore your options and find safety. Seek professional advice.
Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller received a B.A. with honors in biology from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan and an M.D. from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California. After completion of a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale, California; she became board certified and a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (F.A.C.O.G.). She went on to become qualified by the North American Menopause Society and is a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (N.C.M.P.). Dr. Lovera Wolf Miller currently is president of health 4 her, a private medical practice focused on women’s midlife health and gynecology. She lectures on topics related to menopause and healthy lifestyles, and she serves as a medical coordinator for Haitian Support Ministries.
Dr. David C. Miller received a B.A. in English from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana and a M.A. in physiology from University of California, Riverside, California. After doctoral work in neurophysiology at the Brain Research Institute, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California; he received an M.D. from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California. He completed a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa and obtained board certification by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Academy of Pain Medicine (D.A.B.P.M.), Fellow of Interventional Pain (F.I.P.P., D.A.B.I.P.P.). He also became certified as a NAMS certified menopause practitioner (N.C.M.P.). Dr. David C. Miller is currently the medical director of Woodland Pain Center and serves as a medical coordinator for Haitian Support Ministries.
Lovera and David met at a piano recital in the 5th grade. They have been married for 36 years and have two daughters.