Cori (00:00):
Hey guys, this is Cori from Redefining Strength. Welcome to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. This is the show where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m not going to ever fill this episode with sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a review or leave a five star rating or even better share with somebody you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone. So let’s jump right in.

Cori (00:28):
Let’s talk about nutritional strategies to manage the symptoms of menopause. And I’m so excited to be joined by the fabulous dietician, Michelle, to really go over not only some micros that we can include that we might know a little bit more about, but also some ones that are often not talked about as frequently that can have a huge impact in our results and the symptoms that we’re experiencing. So welcome Michelle. Thanks for joining me today.

Michelle (00:55):
Thank you. Happy to be here and talk all things micronutrients and menopause.

Cori (01:01):
So I know you mentioned some common ones we go over calcium vitamin D, we often to talk about omega threes as being really important. Can you touch on those just a little bit before we dive into some of the ones that we don’t discuss quite as frequently?

Michelle (01:15):
Yeah, so I really look at those as your base foundation. Let’s start there. Let’s make sure we’re getting adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D and Omega-3 because when we hit menopause, oftentimes our bone health is concerned. Osteoporosis risk rise, and that’s really where the calcium and vitamin D come in. Menopause is also known as kind of being a slow simmer state. You have slightly higher inflammation that it’s occurring. So omega threes are really going to help kind of combat that and it’s just overall you’re going to get benefits for your brain health as well. So those three are really key components, but they’re not it. And I feel like people focus so much on those three that they kind of forget that there are other items as well that we want to be paying attention to. Now I’m not saying you need to be completely crazy and be looking up every single amount every single day, but it is to your benefit to have at least little checkpoints where you actually look and see, oh, am I getting enough vitamin K? Am I getting enough of these other micronutrients in my diet through Whole foods? And if the answer is no, if you are looking at all the food list and what each micronutrient is in, then we need to potentially either look at adapting your diet or a supplementation route.

Cori (02:34):
And it’s really important that at every stage, at every phase, we’re constantly reassessing our balance because with menopause, we are seeing shifts in our hormones, we are seeing shifts in how we’re utilizing things, we are seeing an impact in our recovery, and so we have to adjust our fueling to health. And I love that Omega threes are talked about so often as one of those foundational things because we go a lot to bone health and those different things, which is really important, but also we see an impact in our recovery. And I’ll constantly have clients coming in saying, I’m not recovering as fast, I’m not feeling ready for my workouts, but I want to train as hard. And omega threes might be a really key component of that while we’re dialing in their macronutrients and even paying attention to their mobility work. So it’s really important that at every stage we’re constantly reassessing what our balance is, realizing that what might’ve been even enough at one phase might not be enough now. So now diving into some of the lesser known or lesser talked about micros, you mentioned vitamin K. Can you go into why that one is so important?

Michelle (03:35):
So the big thing, vitamin K gets kind of pushed to the side when it comes to bone health, but it actually plays just as an important role when it comes to your bone health as vitamin D and calcium. It’s as easy as is to forget the importance of vitamin K. We do want to make sure that we are consuming adequate amounts of it, and most people’s diets really are low in vitamin K food sources. This is really where you are going to be looking at fermented food products, things like sauerkraut, keefer, dark, super dark, leafy greens are going to also have it. But the big thing is is vitamin K works synergistically with calcium and vitamin D to actually be able to help and kind of improve your bone health, which is, as I already mentioned previously, it’s a big concern when women start hitting menopause, osteoporosis risk go up.

But on the other flip side of this, your heart is also another area that we want to pay a little bit more attention to. Estrogen is heart protective. So when we have lower estrogen levels, all of a sudden you may have gone your entire life with not having any cardiovascular concern or heart health concerns and all of a sudden your cholesterol, your blood pressure may all of a sudden start to be rising and you’re kind of like, what the heck is going on? I haven’t changed anything. This is actually going to help with that as well as making sure that we are doing everything we can for your heart health at this stage.

Cori (05:05):
It’s why not to repeat myself, but it is so important we’re constantly reassessing things because what used to work might have even been good. It’s not that it was bad, but it might not work now to match what we need. And even paying attention to vitamin K when you mentioned some of those foods, I’m like, well, that’s great for gut health and we might see more symptoms of bloating or GI distress or disturbances with menopause. So it’s a lot of times when you’re focusing on some of these micros, you’re going to see a far reaching impact just by adjusting your food type. Now you did mention if we’re struggling to get in those foods, maybe we don’t like them. Maybe we are really doing everything we can even from a nutritional standpoint, but we’re still seeing issues or we want to increase further. How much would you recommend that someone supplement with in terms of vitamin K?

Michelle (05:49):
So we are typically looking at about 180 micrograms of vitamin KA day. So it is something that can very easily be hit with your diet if you’re putting an effort in there. So again, if these foods aren’t something that you typically consume, if fermented foods just really aren’t your thing, even though as we mentioned it is so great for your gut health as well, which is a whole other thing that we can get into when it comes to menopause and your gut, but it is making sure you have that. So if you’re not going to be getting that amount through your food, we do want to make sure that you are at least supplementing with that amount and maybe even slightly higher the bioavailability of micronutrients when it comes to vitamins and minerals, you’re not always going to absorb everything that’s actually stated on that bottle just because not everything is going to be processed as easily when it comes to supplements. So even something that’s at least 180 a little bit higher, you’re going to probably be looking for if you’re looking for a supplement.

Cori (06:49):
Now the next micro I know you mentioned you wanted to touch on was B vitamins. And I think this one is also very interesting and I always have to slightly tangent off to go over this because not only do we talk about increasing protein because of the benefits for muscle building when we aren’t able to utilize it as efficiently, especially during menopause and as we get older and building retaining lean muscle is so important to our metabolic health as we go through menopause, but we don’t often talk about the micronutrients that are really available in specific forms only in protein sources. And so I think B vitamins are specifically interesting for that reason, but can you touch on why they’re so important during menopause?

Michelle (07:28):
So this actually can start actually before menopause. Your body naturally starts declining on its ability to actually absorb vitamins as you age. So we’re actually looking at the age of 40. We’re wanting to make sure we are putting an emphasis on our B vitamins and this is going for menopause specifically. We’re actually looking at B vitamins to actually help support some of that hormonal balance during menopause. So if you’re someone that’s really struggling with some highs and lows, B vitamins are going to help regulate that. One of the biggest things I see with people is their moods. Your mood changes often when you are in menopause. You can have higher levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression and vitamin B six for example, is involved in the synthesis of those neurotransmitters for both serotonin and dopamine which help regulate your mood and alleviate those symptoms.

So there’s B six and when we talk about B vitamins, there’s quite a few B vitamins. I am going to go over a few of ’em. B six is one that we do want to pay attention to when it comes to our mood. There are things like vitamin B12, B12 is often known as the energy, the energy vitamin and it is because it does have a crucial role in your energy metabolism and can help feelings of fatigue. And a lot of times that’s another symptom that I see a lot with clients. They’re just tired, they’re wanting more energy, they’re looking for that and it could be simply that they have low B12. Another one. I

Cori (09:01):
Love that you touch on that, not to interrupt you, but I love that you touch on that because I think that also could be something that if you are feeling fatigue instead of just turning to the caffeine instead of just saying, oh well I need to get more sleep and then not really doing anything about it, exploring the other reasons why you might be seeing changes is super important from mood to fatigue because otherwise you’re going to get yourself potentially stuck in that cycle of over caffeinating sleeping worse, feeling more fatigued when there might be one little missing link where if you increase your consumption of B12, all of a sudden you can see improvement. So there’s not magic pills but there are filling nutritional gaps now going back to the other forms of B vitamins.

Michelle (09:38):
Yeah, and I love that you added that because it really is true sometimes people are looking for these drastic changes or overdoing it with training and thinking they need to cut more calories or they need to work out harder and it could just be a simple adjustment to the diet. So some other things to pay attention when it comes to the vitamins in particular are looking at B nine or folate. A lot of people probably know of folate if you’ve ever been pregnant, but it does actually help with reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes. And then there’s B one and B two which also helps support the nervous system and those can actually help things like insomnia and irritability. So those are just a few of the B vitamins that I’m going to go over. But what’s interesting with all of those two is they also can help with your bone health as well by helping regulate homocysteine levels. So elevated homocysteine levels is actually associated with an increased risk of bone fractures. So making sure that we have the adequate amounts of B vitamins are going to lower that risk and also lower your risk of falling victim to any bone fractures in the future, which again, that risk increases by the time from 50 to up your bone fractures risk increase.

Cori (10:58):
I just think it’s so interesting how all these little micros play such an important role and yet so often we jump to bigger things and don’t get me wrong, we have to dial in that foundation first. You have to pay attention to macros, you have to pay attention to workouts, right? The big things to sleep. But at the same time when we start to see changes that we’re like I’m not doing anything differently, the more we can say, Hey, what could have an impact? That would be even an easy adjustment to my diet, to my training, adding in a little bit of foam rolling, the better off we’re going to be and often the more that little thing can really be that 1% improvement that truly does pay off. And so off of that, if someone were looking to adjust their diet, making sure that they’re getting enough of those essential B vitamins to really see results, what would you recommend they start to really focus on?

Michelle (11:42):
So you already kind of touched on this, protein is going to be a huge thing specifically in meat. So animal-based products are going to have a lot of B vitamins. If you’re someone that doesn’t consume a lot of meat, we are looking at making sure your diet is filled with legumes seeds and leafy green, but this is even one that in particular, no matter what stage you’re in, a lot of times we do suggest that vegan and vegetarians do supplement with a B complex. So if you’re not finding this in your diet or not able to add those items in particular to your diet, you do want to focus on a B complex. Oftentimes you will look at supplements and they’ll actually load it often with high amounts of B12, which is great, you’re going to get that energy, but they’re doing it because it makes you fill better, which we all want to feel better, but sometimes they’re missing out on the other B vitamins. So you’re really wanting to look for something that says a B complex.

Cori (12:40):
And as you do this, you might find you need more or less of something and that’s where you can start to dive into more details. And again, we don’t want to get bogged down, so this is feeling at all overwhelming. Remember small little changes add up, but even as you’re trying to hit your macros, maybe you start focusing on, hey, okay, I want to get a range of these things so I’m going to make sure I even just focus on more dark leafy greens because I know I’m going to get more B vitamins and I’m going to hit on that vitamin K from there. So think in terms of the most bang for your buck when you are making adjustments while keeping things simple, but just also recognize that if you are seeing changes and nothing has changed dramatically in your diet, it might just be that you have a nutritional gap that has now popped up with getting older with having those hormonal changes. So off of that, another essential micro magnesium. Can you touch on why this is so important for us to focus on during even menopause?

Michelle (13:28):
So often women struggle with sleep and it’s very common because your hormones actually that regulate your sleep and your deep sleep in particular become dysregulated. And so this is where I actually have, I’ve had this conversation many times where they’ll be like, my partner is waking me up or my pet is waking me up and they’re just rolling around and they’re not sleeping well and it’s causing me to not sleep well. And I always have to break the news that most likely their partner or that pet is doing the same behavior that they have been doing. It’s actually that they’re not hitting that deep REM that they used to. So they’ve become a lighter sleeper, so they’re waking up to slight sleep disturbances that before they would’ve slept through magnesium helps get you into that deep and deep rem. And part of that is because it helps actually calm your muscles and helps ’em the ability to be able to relax.

It eases anxiety and it’s going to help with those sleep disturbances that we oftentimes experience. So one of the big reasons with that too is when we are talking about muscle cramps, which oftentimes magnesium is used for estrogen, again acts like a sponge within the body so it holds onto water. So you actually become less hydrated as estrogen levels drop. And if you are focusing on a high protein diet, which you should be because muscle is important and we want to encourage muscle growth and retention when we hit menopause, oftentimes people don’t increase their water intake when they do that. So if you’re having a higher amount of protein, slightly lower carbs and all of a sudden lower estrogen levels, you could be dealing with more muscle cramps. So this is really going to help with that.

Cori (15:14):
We often, most of us at least I think are always like, oh, I need more sleep. And we know we compromise and make sacrifices where our sleep is, what sacrifice to fit in other things in our daily life, whether or not it’s getting up early for a workout or working later doing all these different things. But I think so often we do get focused on that quantity over the quality and really making sure that we’re getting that quality sleep from the bedtime routine we do to even paying attention to our micros is super important. And I bring this up because I think sometimes too knowing we’re doing something even that can help us, whether it’s the placebo effect or actually that did fill a nutritional gap, it can help us relax better when we go to sleep, which can help us improve that quality. So if you’re like, well, I have a pre-bed routine and I’m still not sleeping better and I can’t get more because it just doesn’t work for my schedule, think about some of these little micro adjustments actually adjusting your micros to see if you can help yourself improve that quality of sleep because it might be the missing component and it could really pay off so that you are feeling better rested and also going to sleep more relaxed knowing that you’ve sort of done that as part of your routine to help yourself.

So if someone were looking to boost their magnesium intake, what foods could they include in their diet?

Michelle (16:22):
So nuts and seeds are going to be a great option for this. Legumes are another great one and my favorite is dark chocolate. So even if you’re looking at adding cocoa powder to your shake or things like that, you’re going to give yourself a boost of magnesium intake. And the benefit of this as well, we kind of touched upon this earlier, but menopause does come with some GI changes. Oftentimes it’s slowing the transit of food through the gi. I mean magnesium also helps with that. So if you are dealing with any issues, again, it helps relax muscles and that includes the muscles within your gi. So if you’re dealing with that, this is also another option to kind of pay attention to.

Cori (17:04):
I feel like if we look at all the micros that we’ve talked about, there’s something here where we can make some sort of really delicious dessert where you can still have your dark chocolate, maybe you work in some nuts and seeds, you can get a little balance going right there. I definitely feel like there is a dessert recipe we can make out of this, especially for those that want that sweet treat like myself at the end of the night. So if someone was like, Hey, I’m really consuming these foods, what would you recommend in terms of supplementing to get enough magnesium? And I know also there are so many different forms of magnesium, so depending on what you have going on, you might want to even dive a little deeper into the nuance of some of that. But in general, someone were looking to supplement with it.

Michelle (17:42):
So if you are someone that’s dealing with things more like constipation, blood pressure, looking to focus on osteoporosis, magnesium glycinate is typically the one that most people use and it’s often usually fairly universal and that’s going to provide you with all those things. So it’s going to help with your heart, it’s going to help reduce blood pressure, even plays a role in combating and improving your bone health, but it’s also going to help with that constipation and again, just that muscle relaxation. So that would be the one that I would start with. Now I’m saying start with because as you mentioned, there are a lot out there, so if you’re trying to find the one that works right with you, it doesn’t mean you need to be stuck with that one and be like, oh well that one didn’t work for me because there are so many other options out there to kind of explore. But starting point, I would start there because going to be your most cost friendly and usually you’re going to get more bang for your buck with that one. If you’re looking for something in particular, then I would start looking at a different option for magnesium.

Cori (18:49):
Keeping things as simple as possible is always good again, but knowing that there are so many opportunities for these adjustments. Now moving on to the next micro vitamin E, why is this one so beneficial during menopause and managing some of the symptoms?

Michelle (19:05):
So it does help with hormone regulation during menopause by actually helping with estrogen activity. So I think there’s kind of this myth that when you hit menopause that you have zero estrogen, you still have estrogen, it’s just going to be in lower levels, but vitamin E is actually going to help regulate that activity. It also does act as an antioxidant, so it’s going to help protect cell membranes from that oxidative damage, including damage that could occur when you are doing helpful and healthy stress that you’re putting on your body such as working out. We talked about recovery may be slower for you when you hit menopause because you’re kind of in this slow simmer state and vitamin E is going to help with that as well. So we do want to make sure that we are just increasing our daily intake of it and there is a lot of research that does show that. It also helps with lowering your nervousness and lowering your chances of experiencing hot flashes and even plays a role in dealing with sleep disturbances as well.

Cori (20:10):
Adding in some of these micros or paying attention to some of these micros is kind of like greasing some of the cogs on the machine, right? The machine might be running but you might see it starting to slow or not operate quite as efficiently and by just greasing some of those cogs, all of a sudden you could really see improvements and that’s what we’re doing with these. You’re doing little things that might help you sleep better, which then can help you feel better in your workouts, which then gets you that better training session so that you can see the battery comp that you want. So then you feel energized during the day. So then you want to eat better so then you sleep better. It can be that little change that often adds up and snowballs so that you get that momentum going. So really think about how you can address certain symptoms you’re seeing with even just one change. So as you notice a lot of these do hit on multiple different things. Maybe pick one that covers the most of the symptoms you are seeing or the changes you are seeing. So off of this, what foods can we consume to boost our vitamin E intake?

Michelle (21:05):
So again, nuts and seeds are going to be a huge option here. Dark green leafy vegetables and fish are going to be your top sources when it comes to vitamin e intake

Cori (21:16):
As a nonsolid eater, all these dark leafy greens just make me think more salads, but I feel like you can make a pretty delicious one with all of this as well. And there are other options. If you’re not a salad eat, just got to throw that out there if everybody else is thinking the same thing. Oh, do I have to eat salad? Cause unless it has a tundras, I’m not going to go there. But anyway, that is a tangent off of that. So let’s just say you don’t even like that you’re struggling to get vitamin E. What would you do in terms of supplementation for that? So

Michelle (21:41):
I would, again, I’d be looking for something that’s probably a little bit higher than the daily recommendation just because oftentimes you’re not going to absorb everything that’s actually listed, but I’m not telling you to go completely crazy when it comes to the levels. We are just looking for something that’s slightly higher than the daily recommendation and the daily recommendation for that is 15 milligrams a day. So if you were looking at something that had 20, that would be probably where I would consider anything higher. We’re kind of looking into overdoing it in vitamin D and with everything with the body there is that happy balance. We don’t want to have anything too much and we don’t have want to have anything too low because you are going to have other issues if all of a sudden we are supplementing with very high amounts of things,

Cori (22:29):
There is such a thing as too much of even a good thing. So going off of this talking about fiber, because I think too much of good thing while we want to increase fiber, you have to do it slowly, otherwise you can see some disturbances you don’t want to see and actually go against why you’re increasing your fiber in the first place. So doing this slowly, even though it’s a good thing is very key. Can you talk about why really paying attention to your fiber is so important?

Michelle (22:56):
So we mentioned it a few times, but your gut health does change and there’s lots of research that shows that the gut microbiome itself, so the bacteria that’s residing in your GI system does not stay the same when you hit menopause and this has a lot to do just with hormones changing and your body just producing things in different levels. So because of that, I mentioned that oftentimes things slow, your food transit slows through your GI system. So we do want to make sure that we are feeding the good bacteria to encourage a healthy environment to be able to produce more good bacteria, but we also want to increase fiber so that we’re also encouraging food to transit faster. And so to do that, we’re looking at, like you mentioned, we’re looking at things that are going to oftentimes hit multiple areas. So we mentioned vitamin K, fermented foods are a great option to hit your vitamin K.

Oftentimes those are also going to have a lot of health benefits for your GI and even increase your fiber intake. So there is even research out there that is showing that insulin resistance, which is something that often increases during menopausal years, fiber is going to help with that as well. So it is something that is going to not just benefit your gut health, but it’s also going to benefit your health overall and even help you achieve your results. A lot of times we’re seeing people that are struggling with their gut microbiome, their weight actually becomes an issue. So you actually store more fat if that balance is off.

Cori (24:32):
And I think it’s really important that we do highlight the importance of fiber because I think during menopause, while often lower carb ratios are promoted and pushed and can be very beneficial, sometimes it’s not changing the macro ratio, it’s changing the type or way you’re hitting your macros. So paying a little bit more attention to fiber. If you’re like, well, but I’ve always felt better on higher carb. How can I go low carb or that doesn’t seem to match your activity level despite the changing hormone levels you’re seeing during menopause. Pay attention to even your fiber intake with that. In terms of this, Michelle, if someone were to be adjusting their diet a little bit to increase their fiber, what foods would they want to focus on?

Michelle (25:09):
So you’re going to be looking at things like legumes, lentils, artichokes, raspberries. My favorite tip is, again, I mentioned it for magnesium, but cocoa powder. A tablespoon has two grams of fiber. So if you’re just looking at slowly increasing and you’re already drinking a chocolate protein shake, add a tablespoon and make it a dark chocolate protein shake and you’ve already upped your fiber intake for that day as well.

Cori (25:36):
My head instantly went to the raspberry because you got the cocoa powder, you got the raspberries, you can add some Greek yogurt, you get some nuts and seeds in there. See I told you we’re getting a great dessert right there, but if someone were to say, Hey, I’m eating some of this foods, I want to make sure I’m really hitting my fiber intake. Any other suggestions in terms of supplementing or what they should do?

Michelle (25:57):
So if you’re going to go the supplementation route, the biggest thing things like Metamucil, I’ll hear so often like, well, I’m taking Metamucil, so I’m good. Metamucil only has about five grams of fiber per day or per serving. So while absolutely it’s awesome if you’re looking to kind increase your fiber for the total of the day, it’s not the only way to go about it, but we are going to be looking for supplements that are going to have things like cilium husk in it, inulin, those are going to be the things that I would look at in a supplement route. But just know you still have, even if you’re supplementing with it, you still need to be focusing on it in your diet. It’s not something that you can just say, oh, I took a serving, I’m good. It needs to be something that you are still continually to make sure you’re hitting in your diet

Cori (26:46):
And off of this, talking about managing those symptoms overall balance, you kind of brought it up too with the cramps and magnesium and I wanted to circle back to it even off of fiber, but water intake. I know you love to talk about water intake, so of course I had to bring it up for you, but it is also incredibly important during menopause and off of that in electrolyte balance. Can you touch on that just a little bit? The importance of water, the importance of making sure you’re still balancing those electrolytes as you’re staying hydrated?

Michelle (27:15):
Yeah, so this is a favorite topic of mine. So when you hit menopause, we’ve already talked about, and I hope you all know at this point, the importance of a higher protein intake. Higher protein means you are most likely going to have a little bit lower carb intake. It is most people respond better to a higher fat than carb ratio when it comes to menopause and carbs, hold onto water. So we’ve already talked about how estrogen acts as a sponge in the body, so it actually helps you stay hydrated. I’ve had so many people tell me that the symptom that they suffered the most was actually having dry eyes and it’s because of just a hydration issue. So when you are having high protein, slightly lower carb and you’re not focusing on your hydration, you are going to deal with things like constipation. You are going to actually slow your own results because the very first step of even weight loss is lipolysis.

And to be able to do that, water has to be able to go in and actually break up the fat so that you can actually utilize it and burn it. So to make sure that we’re doing that, we want to make sure we are properly hydrated, and that’s not just water. So often people focus on water alone, but I actually find that most menopausal women benefit from consuming an electrolyte drink. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy. I’m not saying go out and go get the ultra marathon super high sodium levels, but if you’re just focusing on adding one electrolyte based drink in the afternoon, oftentimes I’ll have women tell me their headaches go away, the brain fog goes away. All of a sudden their need to actually rely on things like ibuprofen when they’re working out actually decreases because the biggest issue is just making sure that their joints are actually properly lubricated. So water and electrolytes are going to be probably the most overlooked and easiest fix when it comes to a woman’s diet. When they’re in menopause.

Cori (29:22):
It’s not just ignoring symptoms or accepting them, it’s seeing what little changes you can make from a dietary perspective. And not that you won’t pursue other modes of help, but controlling what we can control. And that’s easy low hanging fruit in my opinion, because you can go take a look at your diet for your fueling today, tomorrow, and make little adjustments can be really helpful. And I’d actually love to hear in the comments what little maybe meals you’re even making out of some of these foods because I think there’s a lot of creative fun you could have trying to include these things and create a dinner recipe or even a dessert recipe, which I’ve been obsessed with off of these things.

Cori (30:00):
Thanks for listening to the Fitness Hack podcast. Again, this is the place where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m never going to run sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a rating review or share it with someone you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and it would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone.

*Please Note: this transcript is auto-generated and there may be some errors in the transcript