Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Are your bones strong for life?
Bone weakness through calcium depletion, also known as osteoporosis, or – when a mild form – osteopenia, this has at least two key factors contributing to it. Firstly, hormonal changes, and secondly, decrease of bone strength as we slow down our physical activity with age.
Bone material is built if there is stimulation for bones to lay down new calcium. If we don’t challenge our system, there is no incentive for our body to keep itself strong. The body is wise – it prefers to conserve energy. Bone building cells - osteoblasts - will not be stimulated to do their work if not needed.
Osteoblasts are stimulated by oestrogen, but also by the demands of our lifestyle and movement. The long and the short of it is, if you don’t move, you don’t wake up your osteoblasts to create new bone material. So, walking, light impact exercise, exercises with weights and resistance are all great for us, menopause or not.
Even more importantly is maintaining a natural upright posture in good alignment to send the beneficial impact upwards through our skeleton. If we stoop and slouch, the effect of recoil from the surface as we walk or run that stimulates bone density, is lost.
Pilates is perfect for this purpose. In my work, I always add resistance bands for arms and legs, light weights, and work on “all fours” to strengthen wrists, arms and shoulders. It really works - at any age.
I run Pilates and movement therapy classes online and in person (Wimborne, Dorset). Please reach out to chat to me about your objectives to see how I can help you reach them and keep your bones strong for life.
"The following foods and supplements are super important:
• Calcium and vitamin D rich foods – our bodies need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium
• Sufficient protein at each meal – 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight per day should be eaten and more if exercising
• A balanced, nutrient rich, wholefoods diet and good hydration
• Avoiding smoking
• Limiting alcohol
• Being mindful of salt intake
Julia also advises us to note that calcium is not only found in dairy products. Far from it, so please don’t consume milk and cheese all day long! We can also find calcium in nuts (especially almonds) and seeds, sardines and tinned salmon (because we eat the bones), some leafy greens like collard greens and kale, rhubarb, edamame and tofu and figs.
And to aid absorption of the calcium, we in the UK, probably should all consider taking a Vitamin D supplement particularly as we’ve had so little sunshine this year and it’s not found in many foods.
If you need any help with choosing a good quality supplement, please get in touch with Julia Julia Nutrition.
How are our joints doing?
As we age, our joints, especially primary weight bearing ones such as knees and hips, can start showing age related changes. This can speed up with the menopause.
This natural wear and tear – we all age, unfortunately – can definitely be exacerbated by weight gain and dehydration which can come with the hormonal changes.
It is very important to watch your salt intake, keep well hydrated, and keep exercising. Movement promotes fluid circulation around the body, prevents water retention, and keeps joints stimulated, mobile and encourages healthy joint hydration.
Strong muscles also help offload pressure being placed on joints. This helps ease any existing discomfort, for example from arthritis, or eliminate it altogether as we get stronger and confident in our movements. The body loves moving – and the old adage that “motion is lotion” is 100% true. I have worked with many people who found that despite having some arthritic changes, they found relief from the discomfort and discovered a new spring in their step by being dedicated to their exercises.
There are excellent anti-inflammatory foods that help reduce pain, build strong bones and strengthen the connective tissues. These include:
Omega 3 fats (found in oily fish or via a supplement) – vital for reducing inflammation in the body which can exacerbate joint pain. Nuts and seeds – again can support reduced inflammation, and support joints and connective tissue
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, rocket, kale and other leafy greens) – these have been shown to reduce certain enzymes that can cause joint pain and inflammation, and damage cartilage
Colourful veggies and fruits – Full of antioxidants and a variety of plant compounds that can reduce inflammation
Extra virgin olive oil – an anti-inflammatory oil which should be used instead of inflammatory vegetable or sunflower oils
Beans and lentils – again anti-inflammatory and a great source of fibre, non-meat protein and important minerals
Garlic, onions, turmeric and ginger – these anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to be able to reduce joint pain, even in cases of arthritis
Bone broth – bones broths contain chrondroitin, glucosamine and amino acids for healthy joints as well as calcium for healthy bones
Dark chocolate – yay! – but it does need to be dark chocolate (the darker the better, and the better its anti-inflammatory effect)
Our mood and emotional states
Menopause can bring with it an upheaval of emotions. This can be for a variety of reasons such as stress, uncertainty, anxiety over this transitional period, but also due to decreased movement and shallow breathing which anxiety can bring about.
Make space for some mindful breathing, meditation, and incorporate breathwork into your exercise regime. Yoga and Pilates are particularly excellent as they blend in breathing into physical activity. Movement such as Tai Chi and Chi Gong are deeply focussed on breathing and meditative movement and are a wonderful resource to explore.
I run a weekly online session called “Relax and Reconnect” which incorporates meditation, breathwork and Chi Gong. It is super gentle and builds your bodily awareness whilst relaxing your senses and generating deep introspection. Why not give it a try and see what benefits this can bring you?
There is a variety of breathing techniques and approaches and no one method is “the right one”. By being able to breathe in a relaxed quiet way when needed, have 360 degree ribcage breathing when exercising, and produce deep abdominal engagement when exhaling to lift something heavy, we use our breathing and core muscles to their best advantage and keep our diaphragms working and serving us well. It all helps us feel connected to our body and more in control of our health and emotions.
“In terms of specific dietary choices to support the psychological effects of perimenopause, a diet rich in complex and wholegrain carbohydrates, quality protein, fruit and veg, and healthy fats (think Mediterranean diet) can really help, not just with this but also with many symptoms of perimenopause.
More specifically, Omega 3 fats as I’ve suggested above can be particularly supportive as well as foods rich in B vitamins (think quality meat, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens etc). Vitamin B rich foods have been shown to significantly improve levels of anxiety and stress in people vs people not eating enough of these foods. Vitamin B12 is particularly good for managing mood.
Magnesium is a mineral that, like Vitamin D, a lot of people may not be getting enough of, and it’s a very important mineral for improving levels of anxiety, stress and can help with symptoms of depression. Our brain and nervous system need magnesium to function optimally. Top foods containing magnesium are nuts and seeds, beans, avocados and wholegrain rice. If you don’t eat plenty of these foods, it might be worth considering a supplement and I can help with this if required. Vitamin C and D are also vitamins that help support mental health”.
I hope you will enjoy reading more from our special collaboration on the Menopause October 2021. If you have any questions, please reach out! Together, Julia and I are here to support you in the best way possible.
I thank Julia for her contribution to this blog, it was wonderful to have her perspective.
To read her full blog, check out: https://julianutrition.co.uk/blog/43/dem-bones,-dem-bones
You can find out more about Julia’s work on her website:
You can also download her Perimenopause Top Ten to get started on the road to better menopausal health:
Julia can be contacted on:
Kaye can be contacted on:
To your health,
Kaye and Julia x