Are you experiencing perimenopause symptoms? Maybe brain fog, irritability, or perhaps fatigue?
If you’re like many women in perimenopause, you’ve probably been worrying about all of the seemingly unexplainable symptoms you’ve been having. Well, you’re not alone! Finally, there’s an explanation for all of your worries.
According to a recent study, perimenopausal women are more likely to experience symptoms like anxiety, depression, and hot flashes because of changes in their hormones and blood sugar levels. Cue the relief! Finally, we have an answer for what’s been going on with our bodies. Keep reading to learn more about this study and how it can help us understand our perimenopausal symptoms better.
This is a topic that I find is so important and yet not talked about enough for women in the age group of 40 – 60. These women are starting to have some changes in their hormones and symptoms go along with it. The symptoms of brain fog and concentration issues, as well as fatigue, seem to worsen over time. It’s not clear if this is because you’re going through menopause or your cycle has stopped, but either way, it becomes more consistent as well.
Now, if you are a woman in your normal cycle, you might notice these symptoms coming on you more often after ovulation. Within the first two weeks of your cycle or before you get your period, and if you are through menopause, you might be noticing that this symptom is happening more often than not. It might be more chronically there all the time. I know since, I’ve had these symptoms before as well. I understand how debilitating they can be. I want to talk to you about, what I have noticed in my practice, is one of the main root causes of these symptoms and what you can do about it. There are also myths around this. It might be because, often we think that this is very much so related to our changing hormones. That it’s related to estrogen and progesterone primarily as they start to decline and then they drop right off as we go through that transition into menopause, which is why we stopped having a period. However, this is something that can happen regardless of where you’re at, as you get closer to that transition into menopause from a hormonal perspective.
And one of the main reasons have to do with imbalances in our blood sugars.
Oftentimes, this can become extreme. It can lead to things like insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and even diabetes. I see this becoming more common with women as they get into this age group. Another symptom that can go along with this debilitating fatigue and the brain fog is, that frequently, women will also have weight gain.
They feel like it’s almost unexplained weight gain. Like they haven’t done anything differently. The first thing that they do is blame it on their hormones changing because they see other women around them going through the same thing. They’re also in the same time period of life, so they say, “Why not? I’m going to blame it on my hormones.”
The reality is that imbalanced blood sugars are something that has developed, in many women over the years, as far back as when they were a child. I always make sure when I work with women, that we take a very detailed history and we look all the way back to their childhood.
I quite often find women will tell me, “I ate a lot of candy, a lot of junk food, and drank a lot of soda.” Some of them will say. “I didn’t do that, but I did eat a diet that was very high in carbohydrates, lots of pasta, bread, and dairy.”. This dairy has fat in it, but it also converts to sugar with lactose in it. Therefore, it also can have the same effect on our sugars over time. We want to think about what has happened until now and how that could have led to these blood sugar imbalances that are getting worse as you get older and your hormones change.
What we’ll notice often for women who are still cycling is that the first half of the cycle which lasts two weeks is when the symptoms start to get worse. Some women get tired during the first half of their cycle. This is because of hormones and how they relate to our blood sugar levels. You’re not meant to have quite as much energy as you would in this part of your cycle because estrogen levels are a little lower here. What most women often will do to try and make up for this, is they’ll eat more carbohydrates or sugars or they’ll drink more caffeine as a way to try and keep that energy up and keep it going. It has a detrimental effect on your blood sugars. If you feel like you are craving certain foods around the time of your period, you might be craving junk food or sugar treats.
This is probably related more to imbalanced blood sugars than it is to hormonal changes. We need to figure out why this is happening. As mentioned earlier, this can start all the way back from when you were a child. The blood sugars might’ve gotten dysregulated a long time ago, making them imbalanced.
Every time you eat a meal, your blood sugar spike. Then they drop off rather quickly. When they drop off too quickly, it makes you have that need for wanting to eat something. Again, that’s going to give you that quick spike in your sugars, which will help you with energy. Ultimately, it can end up being quite a yo-yo with all the up and down sugars within the day, the week, month, and then years of this can start to cause changes to the numbers on labs.
We need to figure out where is this coming from because it might be related to foods. It might be that your diet is still possibly too high in carbohydrates, with all the loaves of bread and portions of pasta over the years. You might be drinking alcohol, which also converts to sugar.
Something to keep in mind there with foods, since you need to make some changes, is to make sure that you’re also incorporating nonsugar spiking carbohydrates, which are going to be more in the form of low-starch vegetables. Examples of these are broccoli, cauliflower, and all other salad greens you can think of.
It is also possible that you are eating a proper diet and that’s not what’s causing the spike in your blood sugars. It could be also related to things like stress and lack of sleep. What these two things have in common is that they will start to dysregulate your cortisol levels over time. Cortisol, being our primary stress hormone, is something that if it’s not regulated and balanced, it’ll also cause our blood sugars to start to go out of balance over time.
High cortisol, which is more common when we have high stress or we’re not sleeping enough will equate to high blood sugars as well. Consequently, it’ll make us crave more of those sugary foods and more carbohydrates. That’s a way to keep us going when we don’t have those basic lifestyle principles in place that help to keep us balanced with our cortisol and therefore our blood sugar. If this is you, this is possible that you might need to make some changes this way, too.
I find that a lot of women who have problems with their blood sugar, and who have symptoms like feeling tired or gaining weight, sometimes also have trouble thinking clearly. This might happen more often around certain times in their menstrual cycle, or after they go through menopause. It can be related to not getting the right type or amount of exercise.
Exercise is absolutely essential for regulating our blood sugars throughout the day. If you’re not getting any movement in your body, it’s quite likely that this isn’t allowing your body to move your sugars out when they need to be moved out. It might just be free-floating and sitting in the blood and causing things to spike.
It often can even relate to mood-related symptoms such as anxiety and irritability, especially If our sugars are not well-regulated and they’re spiking too high, followed by times of it going too low. It’s really important for us to pinpoint for you, where the root cause of your imbalance is coming from. With the fatigue, the brain fog, with the possible weight changes that seem unwarranted. Most likely, it’s going to be having some roots in blood sugar imbalance.
We need to figure out if we need to adjust your lifestyle to help you or if we might even need to go deeper. As a functional medicine practitioner, I find that this is most often the case. Many women have tried different things and they’ve done some lifestyle adjustments to get their blood sugars back into balance and they feel somewhat better, but they still don’t feel their best.
Quite often, we need to look at what else can help you with blood sugar regulation. Frequently, it also has to do with how well you’re digesting, if there are any imbalances in your gut, and your gut bacteria. Quite commonly, there is some sort of gut bacterial overgrowth, such as candida. This can also cause some symptoms in regards to sugar cravings and cause our blood sugars to spike.
There also are some imbalances in our detox pathways in regards to our liver and our gut. This can have a negative impact on our blood sugars over time. We need to do individualized functional lab testing to understand what’s going on in this regard to really get to the root of your symptoms and help repair and heal the body for the long term.
Often women when they make lifestyle adjustments and they don’t get the changes that they’re hoping for, they get frustrated and they give up. I encourage you to go one step deeper by working with someone, such as myself, a functional practitioner who is going to look a little deeper than those surface lifestyle principles> We will help you understand your individual root cause of your fatigue or your debilitatingly low energy. There is a way to get to the bottom of this.
While the conventional wisdom for perimenopausal women has been to just grin and bear it, we believe that there is a better way. With a functional medicine approach and natural remedies, you can address the root cause of your hormone-related symptoms and feel like yourself again. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you find relief from your perimenopausal woes, please schedule a free discovery call with us today. We would be happy to chat with you about our services and see if they might be right for you. Thanks for reading!
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.