Every year on the news, there are extraordinary life events. Sometimes it’s over-whelming how much is going on in the world. But in 2018 there was an event that gripped the world – 12 young boys and their football coach were trapped in a cave for 13 days. Their incredible survival was a lesson to us all that you don’t need food. What you need is natural water that has been running over rocks collecting vital minerals on the way. It’s replete with the minerals that your body needs in abundance to keep your heart, nerves and blood vessels working. This water is from underground aquifers. Yes, these brave boys also learnt to meditate in order to conserve their energy and stay calm in the face of adversity, but without access to the water that contained calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other vital minerals, it may well have been a different outcome.
Last year, I went to the beautiful Swiss mountain village of Le Chable. Resting at the bottom of the gondola that takes skiers up to the better known village of Verbier, Le Chable has underground, artesian water in abundance. This week I’ve come to this beautiful village again. My son is on the New Zealand ski team and although he is there already, it’s time to turn up to support him for the next month of his competitions. When I was in Le Chable last February, I went outside my little apartement and filled up 2 glass bottles of water (1 litre each) as my daily ‘prompt’ to drink water. I will do the same this time too. Because this beautiful alpine water is full of the minerals that my body needs in menopause and beyond!
When I went into peri-menopause, I never thought about the specific minerals that help our nerves, blood vessels and heart to function. Nor did I think of the impact of the effect of lowering oestrogen on these structures and how this affects the minerals that our body needs as it ages. When I researched the effect of low oestrogen on our physiology, metabolism and our various organs, and why so many women end up with sore muscles, restless legs, cardiac palpitations and increased anxiety, it made sense to follow the pathway of the minerals that are important to these organs too.
As we go into a lowering oestrogen and progesterone hormonal environment during our menopause transition (the average age of menopause is around 51 years), we lose the effect that oestrogen has on our blood vessels and nerve conduction – especially when there is inflammation already present in the body. This is often represented as sore joints, aching muscles, weight gain, gut health concerns and/or autoimmune concerns such as fibromyalgia, thyroid problems or arthritis. I know from so many health screening forms that I have received when women join my programmes, that many are also experiencing increased anxiety and heart palpitations and a racing heart rate. This happened to me too. Don’t forget that these concerns always need a visit to your Doctor but if your tests are normal, as mine were, then you need to understand that low oestrogen affects the function of other organs too, therefore, there are certain minerals that our body needs to help over-ride the effects of lowering oestrogen on these structures.
The women coming on board in my January intake are learning about how much influence oestrogen has on various organs in our body … and most importantly, what to do to counteract the effects of lowering oestrogen using the right food, certain minerals, and of course, how to restore sleep, liver health, thyroid and blood vessel function too.
Positioning our menopause transition in women’s healthy ageing research, has been fundamental to understanding what is going on with our biology at this time of our life … and what we can do to turn around all of our symptoms naturally without resorting to medications. For example, world renowned cardiologist, Dr Stephen Sinatra, has been integral in enabling greater understanding about the role of a compound called CoQ10 (Ubiquinol), which helps oxygen get into mitochondrial cells. Levels of this important compound decline with age, leading to increased heart rate, blood pressure and increased ‘stiffening’ of blood vessels. Changes which, for women transitioning through menopause, may also lead to feelings of anxiety and a more rapid heart rate.
With my own research leading me down the path towards viewing menopause as the ‘gateway’ to the next phase of our life – our ageing, this understanding has been integral in not only my own resolution of my symptoms, but this knowledge has enabled me to use ageing research to underpin my philosophy behind the programmes I have designed (Circuit Breaker for thinner/ leaner women and ‘Transform Me‘ for women putting on lots of weight).
Mitochondrial cells store oxygen and if you want to burn fat efficiently, then as the women who have just joined me on my weight loss programme are now discovering, you better have two things sorted:
- Your sleep. Your fat-burning occurs overnight and this is controlled by glucose metabolism in the liver.
- Your oxygen storage in your mitochondrial cells. When your mitochondrial cells are working well, then they store more oxygen and subsequently, this enables more efficient fat-burning. This is where CoQ10/ Ubiquinol comes in.
But there’s another issue with respect to our changing blood vessels and cardiac health as we go through menopause too. And that’s to do with the essential minerals that we need at this time of life, which brings me back to our water quality and intake.
These minerals that matter include magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and chloride. All are necessary for optimal heart, blood vessel and nerve function in a body that is losing oestrogen. That’s why the type of water that you are drinking matters and it’s why, this month as I’ve been welcoming women into the 12 week Transform Me weight loss programme (BTW – the January sale ends in 2 days time), just one small change I’ve been helping them to understand (apart from learning to sleep all night), is how to have a renewed focus on the quality and amount of their drinking water.
Magnesium and Calcium are crucial to our health as we age, as is potassium, sodium and phosphorous. All of these minerals are present in water that is sourced from underground. Paleolithic Cave-women would have drunk this beautiful water in abundance! This type of water is called Artesian or Spring water.
Water is so important for our body and to help us reduce our hot flushes, improve cardiac health, improve nerve conduction and to lose weight. It’s more important than food.
As women come into both of the MyMT programmes, they soon discover that the initial aim of the programme is to improve firstly sleep, then secondly, turn around liver and kidney function. As we go through menopause and into post-menopause, lowering oestrogen has an effect on these structures too. Because the liver and kidneys are crucial for removing toxins as well as excess oestrogens from your body, they need to be looked after at this stage of life.
Don’t forget that as we transition through menopause, this normal life-stage signals our body to naturally get rid of oestrogen. So, for those of you already overweight, then you need to be careful about having excess oestrogens from HRT, plastics, soy-based foods, animal products and bio-identical hormones. For women experiencing lots of weight gain (as I was too) all this excess oestrogen can’t be cleared efficiently by your ageing liver or kidneys, until you help to reduce inflammation in these organs. If you don’t do this first, then the result for many of you is excess oestrogen stored in your fat cells. Our fat cells love any type of oestrogen as fat cells also contain receptors for oestrogen.
This is why you may be putting on abdominal fat that isn’t shifting with exercise. It’s also why millions of women experience more bloating, cellulite and weight gain in mid-life. Conversely, for those of you who are thinner, then your symptoms might be increased anxiety, a racing heart rate, worsening hot flushes, sore joints or for some of you, increased migraines.
The starting point for reducing symptoms in menopause and losing weight, is drinking enough good quality water. You need to use this as a mechanism to also get the minerals into you that assist your liver, kidneys, heart, blood vessels and nerves to function better with age. Drinking more water also has a bonus effect of improving toxin clearance, including oestrogens, which build up from medications and/or the environment and our food choices. When water intake is adequate, then this also helps to improve our lymphatic system (our cleansing system), which in turn helps our cardiovascular system to function more efficiently too. Our organs do not work in isolation.
That’s why I want to tell you about water! For women living in the little alpine village of Le Chable in Switzerland, they don’t have the concern of women living in metropolitan areas who only have access to tap water.
When I spoke to locals in Le Chable last year, they told me that the water there is some of the highest quality in Switzerland. When I walk around I see the locals drinking it. It is really high in calcium and magnesium – two vital minerals that helps our bone and heart health in menopause and beyond. As women discover in the nutrition part of the MyMT programmes, our body needs calcium every day – it does not make it. 1200mg of calcium daily is the general recommendation in most countries around the world and for women living in Le Chable, 1 litre of water from the wells in Le Chable provide nearly half of that. Amazing! I was also told that people who have lived in this valley all their life and have been drinking the water have really good dental health too. I’m not surprised.
The quality and quantity of your WATER intake is the most crucial thing for you to start improving your menopause symptoms. It’s just one of the factors that I talk about in the learning modules that women listen to on the MyMT programmes. Our water intake is important to begin to kick our menopause symptoms into touch.
When I was trying to understand why I felt so bloated during menopause, my ‘physiology-brain’ led me towards reading about intra and extra-cellular fluid. I knew that my skin and body felt ‘puffy’ and my boobs felt really ‘tight’ and heavy, so it got me exploring water. With the water wells of Le Chable surrounding me as I walk through the village every day, I have water quality on my mind! That’s why I wanted to share this with you about the different types of water that is available to us:
1. Metropolitan water supplies are often full of particles and minerals that even home filters don’t necessarily clear (and yes, I have a filter on my tap). Over a few decades, depending on where you live and source your water from, these minerals can accumulate in the body. This can put your electrolyte balance out of kilter. Whether you do a lot of exercise or not, peri-menopause hormonal changes cause dehydration and water retention in cells (because of low oestrogen affecting the kidney and blood pressure hormones which get out of balance too). This can make you feel bloated and ‘puffy’.
2. Bottled waters which have become so much more prolific in the marketplace are developed by various companies which often take tap water and then strip all the elements out of the tap water and replace what you see in the contents. So you aren’t necessarily getting the quality of micro-minerals or trace elements that you get from natural spring water.
3. Artesian or Spring Water is currently the purest water you can get apart from very, very expensive Reverse Osmosis water (even I don’t fully understand this one). Spring water has been filtered by the earth and contains a wide variety of trace minerals that the human body desperately needs. Ideally, drink only spring water from remote places as it should be freer from pollutants (we hope). This photo is from a wonderful source of artesian water in the South Island town of Wanaka in New Zealand. The women there are very lucky to have this free source of artesian water!
I’m very excited to be going back to Le Chable and I’m on my way there now. Switzerland is a long, long way from New Zealand, but I love travelling and I love meeting women from different cultures and trying to understand how they look after themselves at this time of their lives. I can’t wait to share some of my insights with you all too … and finally, all of you Northern Hemisphere ladies who are with me on here (I have many of you on my programmes too), I look forward to finally being in your time-zone at last!
Wendy Sweet, PhD [Women’s Healthy Ageing Researcher & MyMT Lifestyle Coach]
PS: Don’t forget that you only have TWO MORE DAYS to take up my January SALE OFFER for the weight loss ‘Transform Me’ programme and this offer closes at midnight SUNDAY.