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Welcome to part 11 of the ODX Menopause Series. This post addresses how how maintaining a healthy weight and sleep routine can support a healthy menopausal transition. Use of lavender aromatherapy supports sleep and mood as well.
Optimization of nutrition status, weight maintenance, stress management, physical activity, and sleep reduces the risk or severity of many of the conditions associated with menopause.
Healthy dietary changes and increased physical activity represent the “therapeutic ideal” for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing central adiposity, and optimizing adipokines in the menopausal period. Though breaking old habits and adopting new ones can be a challenge, the results are well worth the effort and may effectively reduce the morbidity associated with postmenopause.
Maintaining a healthy weight through healthy changes could literally be lifesaving. Obesity and excess body fat are associated with chronic low level inflammation which, in turn, is associated with cancer and cardiometabolic disease. Lifestyle changes that promote weight loss were found to reduce inflammatory markers in overweight postmenopausal women.
The SHAPE-2 Trial demonstrated a significant decrease in hs-CRP from 1.99 mg/L to 1.75 mg/L in overweight postmenopausal women who lost weight on a hypocaloric diet. Levels of hs-CRP decreased significantly from 1.85 mg/L to 1.37 mg/L in the women who lost weight mainly through exercise. Levels of leptin also decreased significantly with diet and exercise.
Sleep disorders associated with menopause can be part of a perpetual cycle. Decreased levels of estrogen can lead to vasomotor symptoms, depression, and anxiety that interrupt sleep. The loss of sleep can then contribute to anxiety, depression, and increased risk of obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and CVD. Researchers identified targeted nutrition therapies that may improve sleep and reduce disease risk in postmenopausal women.
Maintenance of a healthy weight, glucose regulation, omega-3 intake, and adequate intake of tryptophan which is converted to serotonin and then melatonin is fundamental to a healthy menopausal transition. Intake of food-based tryptophan improved sleep elderly volunteers with disordered sleep. Researchers recommend 3.5-6 mg of tryptophan per kg of body weight.
Tryptophan per 100g of food
Milk 42 mg
Wheat flour 110 mg
Eggs 165 mg
Sausage 93 mg
Potato 28 mg
Cheese 325 mg
Beef 230 mg
Banana 10 mg
Soybeans 160 mg
Bread, oat bran 140 mg
Chia seeds 440 mg
Chicken, breast, skinless, boneless 400 mg
Cocoa 290 mg
Essential oils contain volatile compounds that can positively affect human physiology, including a potential effect on neurotransmitter release.
The aromatic use of lavender was found to reduce symptoms in a randomized controlled trial of menopausal women. The subjects inhaled lavender two times per week for 20 minutes. Lavender is known to have anti-anxiety, sedative, and sleep-enhancing properties. In the study, inhalation of lavender significantly improved anxiety, depression, sexual desire, and physical and vasomotor symptoms.
One systematic review found that lavender as aromatherapy or in capsule form can significantly improve sleep, sexual function, physical symptoms, depression, and anxiety in postmenopausal women. The majority of subjects reported feeling relaxed and happy after lavender use.
Of course, stress and stress management are topics unto themselves and they will be in the near future... keep an eye out for upcoming ODX blogs.
Mind-body techniques may help relieve menopausal symptoms and can include cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, deep-breathing, relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness-based stress management.
 Jankie, Satish, and Lexley Maureen Pinto Pereira. “Targeting insulin resistance with selected antidiabetic agents prevents menopausal associated central obesity, dysglycemia, and cardiometabolic risk.” Post reproductive health vol. 27,1 (2021): 45-48. doi:10.1177/2053369120982753
 van Gemert, Willemijn A et al. “Effect of Weight Loss with or without Exercise on Inflammatory Markers and Adipokines in Postmenopausal Women: The SHAPE-2 Trial, A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology vol. 25,5 (2016): 799-806. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1065
 Laudisio, Daniela et al. “A practical nutritional guide for the management of sleep disturbances in menopause.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 1-15. 30 Nov. 2020, doi:10.1080/09637486.2020.1851658
 Nikjou, Roya et al. “The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on the Symptoms of Menopause.” Journal of the National Medical Association vol. 110,3 (2018): 265-269. doi:10.1016/j.jnma.2017.06.010
 Roozbeh, Nasibeh et al. “Effect of Lavender on Sleep, Sexual Desire, Vasomotor, Psychological and Physical Symptom among Menopausal and Elderly Women: A Systematic Review.” Journal of menopausal medicine vol. 25,2 (2019): 88-93. doi:10.6118/jmm.18158