Menopause: Moods, Memory & More

May 13, 2017

On the podcast today we’re helping women through menopause and peri-menopause. We walk through the common complaints that we hear from clients during this phase in life, along with actual nutritional solutions that can reduce symptoms such as hot flashes, poor sleep, depression and much more.

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JoAnn:  Good morning and welcome to Dishing up Nutrition.  I am JoAnn Ridout, Registered and Licensed Dietitian and I see clients and teach classes in the Wayzata and Maple Grove offices at Nutritional Weight & Wellness.  Dishing up Nutrition is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness, a company providing life-changing nutrition education and counseling.  Today, Kate Crosby and I are going to talk about Menopause: Moods, Memory, and even More and we’ll answer your questions.  We both teach the Menopause seminars, and have personally experienced menopause ourselves.

Kate:  Good morning JoAnn! So listeners if you have menopause questions for us today, give us a call at 651-641-1071.

JoAnn:  Kate is a Nutrition Counselor who is busy seeing clients in our North Oaks office and teaching classes, also she does phone consults. We are both here today to help women who have both menopause and peri-menopause questions. 

Kate: It might surprise to a lot women to learn that peri-menopause, that time between having your period and stopping your period can last about 10 years before menopause actually happens! So they means you could have hot flashes for ten years, you could have sleepless nights for ten years, you could be irritable those ten years. That’s a long time and it’s really challenging.

JoAnn:  Yes, that’s true. Peri-menopause is several years long, and thinking back I swear mine was at least ten or 15 years. Things happen gradually so it’s kind of a blur. It’s that time when things start to change, the timing between your periods can change, some months heavier, some months lighter.

For me, it was the time I experienced night sweats a lot, lots of sleep issues, and my intestinal issues became more severe.   

Kate: Wow, so what do you mean?

JoAnn: Well I had intestinal issues like IBS and constipation, they had kinda always been there they just became more severe. Sleep issues definitely became more severe and night sweats. I kinda noticed what I ate made a difference.

Kate: Like what?

JoAnn: Well maybe a large meal, going out to eat for a meal would end up in hot flashes or if I had a glass of wine or two it would definitely end up in hot flashes or night sweats in the night. So also, more increased anxiety, worry, irritability, that kind of thing. So after many years of night issues I did end up with a sleep apnea diagnosis and getting a sleep apnea machine. So that probably was a big part of my struggle all along. But definitely in combination with the peri-menopause symptoms.

Kate:  For many women, it can be the first time they notice depression, or a lot more anxiety, or like me, my PMS got worse! But for a lot of people it might be memory, and you can’t remember things, you forget a friend’s name or you run downstairs and you can’t remember why. These are so concerns that menopausal and peri-menopausal women have and we can help you turn that irritability and sleeplessness around with nutrition.

JoAnn: Yup, that’s great. And are you surprised that there are actual nutritional solutions that can reduce these symptoms during peri-menopause or menopause? We do have some nutritional tips to help you sleep better, have less hot flashes! So we’ll expand on those.

Kate: I’m reminded of a friend of mine, Theresa, who came to me a couple months ago because she was so uncharacteristically irritable. She’s about 50, peri-menopausal and she’s really a lovely, loving, really warm woman but suddenly she was barking at her husband and arguing with her children, she was just plain irritable. She asked me if there could be some nutritional solution to this and we talked about her diet, she ate very well, so lots of protein, vegetables and those healthy fats that we’re always talking about. So that was in order but she needed more help. So I suggested that she start using a progesterone cream at night, just a little bit, and she reported back within about a week or ten days that she was back to her old self. And that’s what can happen if you just nail the right thing. You know, she became her funny, loving person again, irritability gone. Sometimes that’s how easy it can be and that’s kind of fun.

JoAnn: And her food was right before she started so I think that’s key also.

Some women who are in peri-menopause need a nutritional makeover before they reach menopause. A nutritional makeover could potentially make menopause symptoms just about disappear.  A lot of women don’t realize they have a hormonal imbalance until they have more severe symptoms. I am actually looking forward to watch my younger sister Jennie go through menopause. She is 48 now and she has over the past year lost almost 40 lbs* eating the Weight & Wellness Way. So she has given up sugar, she never thought she could, she was definitely a sugar addict. Her results are fewer night sweats, less infections, fewer headaches, and better sleep! With her new way of eating, she is working on avoiding many of these menopause issues and she and I have had that conversation and I said “When you hit menopause you’re going to have a lot less issues.” So I think that’s going to be fun to watch!

Kate:  I agree. Well she’s a wonderful example of how you can change it up before you enter menopause. That’s being really proactive. But you know, a lot of us enter menopause in a situation called estrogen dominance, so that’s when we have too much estrogen in our body. A lot of time women don’t even realize that that’s going on. And today it’s kind of interesting, but many men have estrogen dominance as well and it would show up as prostate issues or enlarged prostate.

JoAnn: That’s right, we see that a lot too. And Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause, lists some very common conditions that are caused by Estrogen Dominance, or excess estrogen. Have you ever had a pounding headache before your cycle? Many women call them hormonal headaches.  This is an indication of excess estrogen.  Some women suffer from frequent vaginal yeast infections; that has also been found to have an estrogen connection – again, excess estrogen.

Kate:  The breast swelling and tenderness, which is also a condition related to excess estrogens. So are fibrocystic breasts are also connected to estrogen imbalance.

JoAnn:  It’s amazing how many common conditions are connected to excess estrogens, we talked mood issues, like depression, anxiety. The sleep troubles are definitely estrogen connected and you may wonder why? Too much estrogen blocks the serotonin which is our happy, calm brain chemical. Excess estrogen blocks your body’s ability to use that serotonin. So you can be more irritable and anxious.

Kate: That happens often doesn’t it? You know if you have excess estrogen too, you might be nauseous, or vomiting. Interestingly enough, these are all symptoms that can occur early in pregnancy which is an estrogen time, the estrogen is growing a baby. But at this point in your life when you are menopausal you don’t want the estrogen showing up like this.

JoAnn: Excessive vaginal bleeding is also common, sometimes women complain of clotting, those are also very common conditions during perimenopause when you have excess estrogen. 

Kate:  That is quite a list of very common conditions! Let’s break this down. This common condition called Estrogen dominance means we accumulate too much estrogen, compared to progesterone. You know we always want to have balance of progesterone and estrogen and when we come back I’ll continue that for you.


Kate: So we’ve got a bunch of callers! Julie, you have a question for us?

Caller One: I have a friend who is a Spanish speaker who has been suffering for about eight years from insomnia, so I said I would try to find out from the radio show if there is some help for her for sleeping. She’s peri-menopausal.

Kate: Yeah, we can help. First off we would approach it through eating, we want to make sure she’s eating protein, fat and carbs throughout the day and then she has a bedtime snack so she doesn’t wake up due to low blood sugar. A bedtime snack is really simple, it’s just something like half a cup of strawberries and a bit of heavy cream. It’s just a little bit of fruit and a healthy fat, but also it might be wise for her to use just a little progesterone cream, just a quarter teaspoon or so, rubbed into her skin before she goes to sleep. And you just rub it into areas where there are veins exposed like the inside of your wrist, behind your knees or on your ovaries. Those might be a few suggestions. And continue listening to the show because you might get some more ideas as well.

JoAnn: We’re also going to be talking about Magnesium Glycinate coming up so that’s another one that can be helpful.

Caller One: Great, thanks so much!

Caller Two: When I was 20 years old I started to bleed excessively and for the next 12 years I had excessive bleeding due to fibroid tumors and this resulted in two myomectomies and a hysterectomy over those 12 years. So my question is, will I go through menopause since I don’t have a uterus and only one ovary?

JoAnn: You probably will still have some symptoms though they may be a little bit harder to detect but you definitely will still have some symptoms. Stay tuned to this show because we’re going to be talking about excessive estrogen, estrogen dominance and we’re also going to talking about fibroids so exactly what you said, the excessive bleeding in fibroids so we’ll go into more detail on that so even though you don’t have a uterus anymore and you don’t have the bleeding anymore, we’re going to go into the liver and the livers effect.

Kate: You still have hormones floating around and that’s the part that’s affecting you. We’ve got one more, Betty?

Caller Three: I’m 88 years old, I went through menopause normally around the 50’s and I know all about that and now for almost about two years, it is so uncomfortable. It is so uncomfortable, it doesn’t happen at all during the day, but the main thing is, at six o’clock at night I get these horrible hot flashes and I’m normally cold so I have lots of clothes on. Then I take everything off practically because I am so hot and like I say, it lasts maybe a couple hours and by that time I’m back to my cold state again, but it makes my evenings so uncomfortable that I’m wondering. My Dr. says I just have to live with it, everything seems to be fine. He has no suggestions for anything.

Kate: Do you eat at that time at six o’clock?

Caller Three: Yes.

Kate: What are you eating?

Caller Three: Well I eat a pretty good balanced meal, you know, I usually have beef, meat and vegetables. I’ve always eaten pretty well.

Kate: Do you have a glass of wine?

Caller Three: No, because that makes me hotter.

Kate: Yes, good.

Caller Three: Is this normal for a person this age to do this?

Kate: Well normal has a big range here. I’m not exactly sure, this might be a little more complicated that we can do on the air. But it seems to me that you might be helped possibly by progesterone cream but it might have to do also with your immune system and something that we can’t decipher right now.
JoAnn: It could be, but the excess estrogens are stored in our liver so it still could be somewhat related to the estrogen dominance that we’re going to be discussing so if you want to stay tuned we’re going to have quite a few suggestions.

Kate: So, JoAnn let’s get back to talking about estrogen dominance, we were explaining that before we went to break. So remember it’s just an accumulation of too much estrogen. We’re always balancing our estrogen and progesterone and we don’t want too much estrogen and we don’t want too little progesterone. That’s really the key.

JoAnn: That’s right. And you may wonderHow did I accumulate that much excess estrogen?” Were you on birth control pills? And, for how many years? Birth control pills contain estrogen. The early birth control pills contained a lot of estrogen.

Kate: So much estrogen that I couldn’t even take them, I’d take them for days and I became a raging maniac. Not a very happy camper.

JoAnn: I only took them for about a year and my blood pressure started going up. I went off them immediately. So I wasn’t ever on those things for very long. But many women I talk to were on the pill for 10-20 years. And then what about that hormone replacement therapy? More excess estrogen. Actually I did get talked into that for a couple years, unfortunately that did make excessive bleeding worse, so I did not stay on that very long! So in addition to that our adrenal glands produce estrogen even after we’re done ovulating, or if we’re under a lot of stress. So many, many things contribute to this estrogen dominance.

Kate: You know, stress contributes to it. Too much stress means you’re making a lot of cortisol and cortisol steals progesterone. That hormone we really want to have some of.

JoAnn: So that creates more estrogen dominance and also our fat cells make estrogen. So the more body fat we carry the more estrogen we make. So those are just a few places that many people could identify with.

Kate: So you’ve just listed ways that we accumulate this excess estrogen with hormone pills, hormone replacement therapy and stress creating a lack of progesterone. Whoa. And our fat cells keep producing this estrogen. So what do to help balance estrogen? That’s probably a question you’re wondering. As nutritionists, one thing we do is to use a little small amount of progesterone cream- just¼ tsp at night rubbed in where I said before. And what’s cool about progesterone is it’s very relaxing. Progesterone is calming, I often use it in the often if someone bursts into tears easily.


Kate: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition, I’m Kate Crosby and I’m here with JoAnn Ridout and today we’re discussing menopause and more. By the way the May product of the month is GLA and it’s really important when it comes to hormones. It’s an essential fatty acid in the Omega-6 family, but it’s really helpful for nourishing our cells and decreasing inflammation. It’s great at hydrating tissues, especially your skin. It also works to balance hormones like the estrogen and the progesterone and it helps your metabolism work better.

JoAnn: Yes, and many people we see when counseling have dry cracked heels, or cracks on their finger-tips. That can be a clue that your body is missing that GLA. So GLA helps hydrate our skin and it’s also helpful with dermatitis since it’s so hydrating.

Kate: Another really interesting thing about GLA is that it can help with incontinence. If you want more information on GLA we have this great flier on it in all of our offices, so go into our offices and pick one up. And, this month GLA is 15% off! It’s a product of the month. Again if you have questions for JoAnn or me today please call 651-641-1071. And speaking of that, Cheryl are you still on the line?

Guest Four: Hello? Yeah, I do have a question. It’s actually a question for my daughter. My daughter is on Tamoxifen, she’s only 45 years old. She had breast cancer. She has been on Tamoxifen for about three months now and of course has raging hot flashes. Do you have any suggestions for someone who is that young and on Tamoxifen for hot flashes?

JoAnn: The only thing I’m thinking of is just to detox that estrogen. We have a supplement called EstroFactors, but again we don’t recommend supplements as a stand-alone, it would have to be supported by the food plan initially. That might come in handy but otherwise the progesterone cream might be helpful as well. But really, does she follow a food plan similar to what we recommend with the healthy fats?

Caller Four: Umm, fairly closely, she’s seeing a nutritionist through her health care provider. She also has some digestive issues and she’s diabetic so…

JoAnn: It sounds like her situation sounds pretty complex and I think a one-on-one nutrition consultation with one of our nutritionists. I know you said she’s seeing a nutritionist but some nutritionists do not recommend the same quantity and quality of fats that we talk about. So you may want to direct her to our podcasts, also direct her to our website. There’s a lot of issues she’s got going on and we can’t really answer that over the phone.

Kate: She’s got some interesting challenges, starting with digestion.

JoAnn: With digestion definitely and with some probiotics. We would do a comprehensive plan for her.

Caller Four: Ok, thanks for the help.

Kate: We’ve got Jane. Jane do you have a question for us?

Caller Five: I came to Nutritional Weight & Wellness when I was 40. I thought I was eating healthy and learned I wasn’t. I learned a lot and once I followed the program I had tremendous energy, I was sleeping and then I started to go through my change and not sleeping. I was put on a low dose of estrogen / progesterone and last July I had my physical and my lymphocytes have been going up. They got concerned and recommend I go see an Oncologist and now I’ve been diagnosed with CLL. So I asked the pharmacist about an estrogen, progesterone and if this could raise a person’s lymphocytes and now I realized I’ve been feeling a lot of stress and anxiety. So I’m wondering if that’s from being without the estrogen or what?

Kate: Well it’s not the estrogen.

JoAnn: It’s not from being without estrogen, you probably have some buildup of toxic estrogens in your system from the hormone replacement.

Kate: But, what is CLL?

Caller Five: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I eat very healthy and you know I’m 59 and I feel great but I’m in disbelief. I’m going in for a second opinion and I can’t believe it.

Kate: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. I think, well, our recommendation would generally be to use a natural progesterone rather than an estrogen and progesterone so that might have thrown a little something off but it might not be related to the CLL.

Caller Five: Where do you recommend I get that stuff at then?

Kate: The natural progesterone? We sell two kinds of cream, made from yams, ProgesteKey is one and Pro-Gest Cream is another commonly used. I would have to do a little more digging in your situation so a consultation might be in order on this.

JoAnn: I agree with Kate, I think a consultation would be very helpful.

Caller Five: Ok, now Kate are you at the Lakeville office too?

Kate: No, I’m not. I used to be there but now I’m in North Oaks and JoAnn is in Wayzata and Maple Grove. And we also do work by phone so either one of us can help you. A lot of my most interesting, rewarding clients are phone clients. Thank you for your call!

So awhile back before we went off to break we were talking about estrogen dominance and how to balance that or get rid of that excess estrogen. We talked about using a natural progesterone cream which is what we recommend and so does Dr. Christian Northrup. It’s made from yams.

JoAnn:  When we are younger, and still ovulating, our body makes about 20mg of progesterone when we ovulate. So, 20mg is perfect. We don’t want excess progesterone either. Often I see women come in with prescriptions for 100 to 200mg of progesterone and actually that turns to excess estrogen in the biochemistry cycle, where it does end up turning to excess estrogen. So again, we really want to keep it to that small amount of natural progesterone made from wild yams.

Kate: 20mg is kind of what our body was used to making when we were ovulating, so it’s not too much.

JoAnn: And that 100-200 level or even 300 we’ve seen, can result in weight gain as a result of those high estrogens. So we also want to avoid xeno-estrogens, those chemicals that mimic estrogen in our bodies. They are found in products, BPA in plastic, parabens in cosmetics, along with synthetic estrogens found in hormone replacement therapy. All those excess estrogens can turn toxic. So how can we avoid those excess estrogens?

Kate: It’s also found in pesticides, which is kind of everywhere.

JoAnn: It is, pesticides and insecticides.

Kate: Well, one way is to give up wine. You might not be so happy to hear this one, but wine does affect your body’s ability to detox those excess estrogens. And other toxins. One or two glasses of wine a week may be safe, but research found more than that increases your risk of breast and colon cancer and of course too much wine is going to lead to weight gain.  In addition, alcohol affects your moods and sleep. Alcohol can really disrupt your body functions, even more than people realize.  

JoAnn: If you are saying to yourself, “I don’t want to give up wine”, but now that menopause has arrived, it may be the time. During menopause your body is struggling in many ways to stay in balance, and things are changing, our metabolism does slow down, and the sleep is often more disturbed.

Kate: I remember having a client, Margaret, who would have two sips of wine and just break out in a drenching hot flash. That’s how powerful wine was for her body. Then she’d also wake up in the middle of the night with hot flashes and then couldn’t get back to sleep. You know that picture. So after a lot of discussion she took out the wine from her diet and guess what? Hot flashes are down and she sleeps through the night. That’s the power of nutrition.

JoAnn: So, if you just tuned in, you’re listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, Kate Crosby and myself, JoAnn Ridout and the topic is menopause, mood, memory and more.


Kate: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition, we’re talking about menopause. Some women have very unique symptoms during menopause. What do I mean by unique? How about, 20 hot flashes a day or sleeping only three to four hours a night, or feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, crabbier than you want. Well if this sounds like you I encourage you to set up an appointment with one of our nutritionists so we can help you improve these symptoms. Again, call our office or go online, our office number is 651-699-3438 or go online at we can help you feel better.

So, we’ve got a few callers here. Uh, Betty, do you have a question for us today?

Caller Six: Hi, thank you. I’ve seen JoAnn in your office and I just saw a new Gynecologist, or I mean an OB Dr. and she said “Why are you taking progesterone cream?” She said it causes breast cancer and that I should stop immediately. 

Kate: Well that’s kind of interesting, I’ve had breast cancer and I used progesterone cream after I had breast cancer and my oncologist said “You, whatever you are doing is excellent. Continue doing it.” Progesterone cream is, boy I wish I could quote this, but Dr. Christian Northrup explains it’s very different than what maybe a medical doctor is used to using, Progestin. Progesterone cream is natural and it actually is protective.

Caller Six: Well I agree, I agree with you, I just thought it was unusual.

JoAnn: I think a lot of times the doctors just aren’t familiar with the products we’re using.

Kate: I’m sorry for your confusion.

Caller Six: It does make you think a little bit, but I think I trust you guys more than my doctor.

Kate: Well I hope you’re feeling well. Thanks for your call, Betty. Amy, do you have a question for us today?

Caller Seven: Yes, hi! I’m wondering can men have estrogen dominance.

JoAnn: Yes, absolutely they can. We were talking about that earlier in the show. That often shows up as an enlarged prostate.

Caller Seven: What about restlessness at night? Lower muscle mass? Could that all be excess estrogen in a man?

JoAnn: We genuinely recommend Magnesium Glycinate for that.

Caller Seven: Yeah, he’s doing that and I have him also doing a healthy fat at night. He’s on your diet, no sugar, nothing. He eats really well. I’m just trying to think of what else could be going on that maybe hasn’t been addressed with him.

Kate: He might need a very large amount of Magnesium Glyncinate, how much is he taking?

Caller Seven: He’s taking 120mg at night.

JoAnn: We generally recommend 400 to 600mg of Magnesium Glyncinate.

Kate: And make sure it’s from a good quality company.

JoAnn: A pharmaceutical company. The products we sell are all pharmaceutical grade. We often see people needing four to six tablets, even eight, even ten. I’ve seen it go that high. And often a man is a larger person. I actually use about six or seven of those every night, so don’t worry about going too high. It’s just a large mineral, it’s very relaxing.

Kate: Candy, we’ll take one more call. You’ve got a question for us?

Caller Eight: Yes, I do. I’m on hormone replacement and have been for quite a while. My doctor changes my medication without checking my hormones ever and I don’t understand where she’s coming from by changing them all the time. When I might have issues she might up and change them up or down, but she never checks my hormones. Shouldn’t I be concerned about that?

JoAnn: Yes, I would ask maybe to have those things tested if you can. The other thing is you may want to check with another doctor.

Caller Eight: I’ve done that, I would just like to get one female doctor that knew more.

JoAnn: We really don’t recommend hormone replacement at all, so whatever you can do. Maybe go in and be up front with your doctor, “I’d like to get off of this.” And say, please work with me. Most doctors are going to say, “We don’t want you on this for a long time.” In fact my doctor did say that. This is just a temporary thing to kind of help you get through.

Caller Eight: I’ve researched this for years and think I just need to move onto a different doctor.

JoAnn: I agree.

Caller Eight: I love your show and have gone to tons of your classes.

Kate: Thanks for listening and thanks for your call. A while back we were talking about excess estrogen and how it’s taxing to the liver. Your liver is trying really hard to remove that excess estrogen and so we had talked about stopping the wine because it taxes the liver. So after having the wine or the beer your liver is really burdened. It’s trying really hard to get rid of both things, the excess estrogen and the alcohol. Our suggestion is always to lighten up the load on the liver. Stop the wine and reduce the sugar.

In addition you really need to make sure you’re drinking enough water to help the liver get rid of all those things it’s detoxing for you. Drink at least eight to ten glasses of water each day and that will help you detox as well.

JoAnn: That’s right and we promised we’d be talking about uterine fibroids later in the show so here we go. Fibroids are a type of benign tumor that develops in the uterus.  This small mass grows from the smooth muscle and connective tissue, so even though it’s a small mass, and you may not even know they are present. 

Kate: They might be very painful and a lot of bleeding and on that note we need to wrap it up JoAnn. We have come to the end of our show.

JoAnn: I just want to say one more thing. Dr. Christian Northrup and Dr. John Lee both recommend progesterone cream for women who have fibroids and the nutritional piece of cutting out the sugar. Cutting out the alcohol, etc.

So, we’ve covered many topics today, we didn’t get through everything we wanted to talk about so feel free to call the office or come in for a consultation.

Kate:  Let’s review some practical tips. Sleep, be sure to get eight hours. Have a bedtime snack like peaches and cream. Sometimes people are going to need magnesium to help them sleep like we talked about. Anywhere from 400-600 mg. And, use some progesterone cream, a ¼ of a teaspoon.

JoAnn: And then to reduce estrogen dominance, avoid dryer sheets, plastic bottles, eat as many vegetables as you can, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and give up the wine.

Kate: If you’ve got dry skin, cracked heals, dry eyes or incontinence, be sure to have enough healthy fats like butter and avocado and supplement with GLA to hydrate your cells.  

*Because everyone is unique, individual results vary.

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