The Menopause

I wish Walt Disney had produced a film which reflected the real world.

Think of Snow White at ‘a certain age’ – with her dwarves Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful & Psycho. Isn’t that a more accurate story about the Menopause?

Now 77 I remember the miseries of menopause in my late 40’s with its hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats [and these were the plus points!]. But, I knew then that menopause wasn’t an illness, just a normal stage in a woman’s life. I was determined not to suffer in silence so consulted my gynaecologist to discuss taking HRT. But, my history of breast cancer unfortunately precluded my taking it. So – I turned to Mother Nature for an answer [only fair, as she had caused the problem in the first place!]

I discovered that plant forms of oestrogen and progesterone are found naturally in foodstuffs such as Mexican yam, tofu (Soya bean curd), French beans, green lentils, miso (fermented Soya paste) and rye bread. I needed to eat a lot of them to consume the recommended amount of phytoestrogens – and we know the downside of eating a diet rich in beans and pulses.

I couldn’t believe it – now I had to choose between mood swings or wind! Life can be cruel!

Eventually in my health shop I found a tablet form of natural phytoestrogens which I took daily. Not sure whether it was mind over matter, but it seemed to do the trick!


Dear Diana. Now that I have passed the menopause (I am 54 years old) I am struggling to control my waistline and now have a tummy that appears to protrude further than when I carried my first child. I have tried cutting down on sweets and biscuits but somehow feel addicted to them and get quite miserable whenever I try to give them up. Joan Browning, Sussex

Like you middle age spread appeared after my menopause, because like many Mums I’d become the family dustbin, eating the left overs and too many chocolate biscuits. Easy to pile on the pounds, getting the pounds off took more determination! I ate less of the 3 S’s – salt – sugar – saturated fat. And I ate more of the of 3 F’s – fresh food – fish – fruit and veg.

To get back into shape I did this simple exercise (still do). Lie on your back, knees bent with feet hip width apart. Pull in tummy muscles tilting your pelvis up (pelvic tilt) and push waist flat down into the floor. Hold this position throughout the exercise. (Tip – help yourself to get started by hooking your feet under the bed or a heavy chair).

Place hands on thighs; breathe out as you lift your head and shoulders up off floor to a count of 2. Now breathe in and relax back down to a count of 2. Start with 8 repetitions, but build up each day as your muscles get stronger. Persevere till you can do 24 repetitions and that tum will be flat as a pancake in a month!

Question 2. THINNING HAIR 
Dear Diana. My hair appears to be thinning and I am suffering from a dry scalp. I have not changed my shampoo in 20 years and am concerned that I might be going bald. I do not take any vitamins but have heard they might help. Can you advise? Georgette Wilson, Hertfordshire.

I take pride in my hair and recently spoke to my local hairdresser Beverley, who I trust implicitly, about thinning hair and dry scalp thinking she would recommend products. But from years of observation she has concluded that many symptoms often indicate problems coming from within our bodies, not without. Her advice was simple. If in doubt check it out with your Doctor.

So is your hair trying to tell you something? Hair loss can result from shock, sun damage, very low calorie diets and some prescription drugs. If none of these things are found to be the cause try a change of shampoo, but read the label and make quite certain the product does not contain synthetic chemicals which can irritate your scalp and do nothing for your hair.

White flaky dandruff isn’t harmful and changing to an anti-dandruff shampoo might be the answer. Greasy or yellow dandruff might indicate seborrheic dermatitis. Look at your diet and ensure you are getting sufficient protein and iron, plus Omega 3 fatty acids, and a little vit A, essential for the health of your hair and scalp. You may think I’m nutty but I eat a handful a day for the benefit of my health, skin and hair!

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