Is joint pain affecting you?
Are you going through or have you been through menopause?
Are you experiencing joint pain for the first time since menopause?
Or has your joint pain increased since menopause?
If you answered yes to these questions, you’re not alone.
When I reached my early 50’s, my joints began to ache. I thought it was due to weight gain and years of high-impact activity. For a long time I put my knee pain down to overuse due to years of running, taking aerobic classes and doing lots of squats in all the BodyPump exercise classes that began in the late 1990’s. So when my knees started to ache as I went into menopause, and I was reading studies on women’s healthy ageing, my ‘past exercise life’ flashed through my mind.
The ‘wear and tear’ theory
When I began to look at Theories on Ageing as part of my studies, I realised that I needed to look through the ‘wear and tear’ lens. The ‘wear and tear’ theory of ageing was first introduced in 1882, by Dr August Weismann, a German biologist. He believed that cells and tissues have vital parts that wear out resulting in early ageing. Like components of an ageing car, parts of the body eventually wear out from repeated use. Scientists now know that there is some basis to this theory, which is why it’s so important we look after our bodies as we move through menopause. Especially for those of you who are regular exercisers, or like me, have enjoyed higher impact exercise and running for years.
Now is the time to invest in your health before it’s too late
Menopause is the time to get the right nutrients for healing our bodies, reducing symptoms and enabling joint repair – especially for women who have had a lifetime of exercise. It’s so important we nurture and support our bodies, if it’s to sustain us for decades to come.
This is exactly what the two MyMT™ progammes teach you to do. Because menopause affects each of us differently, I’ve designed two different ones. Be sure to check them out so you know which is right for you.
What role does oestrogen play in joint health?
One of the areas we explore in these programmes is the role of oestrogen in joint health and I have an entire module just on joint health for women, as this is such a common symptom of menopause, but so many women don’t realise this as I didn’t myself.
Even when I stopped a lot of high impact exercise, my aching knees continued. I had myo-fascial release from my wonderful physio, bought insoles for my shoes and scheduled regular massages. Yet my knees still ached and although I knew that my weight gain was affecting them too, even when I lost weight they continued to ache! I had no idea that decreasing oestrogen levels might be contributing to the knee joint creaks and aches.
Oestrogen is essential for our joints and muscles and has helped to keep them flexible and working since we went through puberty. Its role is to protect and stabilise membranes.
For those of us going through menopause our oestrogen levels are declining. This is a potential problem, because during menopause the role of oestrogen is even more important. As a fat-soluble hormone, oestrogen helps to strengthen the cell membrane and in so doing, it assists as an antioxidant. So, even as we get older, oestrogen continues to play a role in cell turn-over and healing of our joints. This means that it’s important to know what to do to keep healthy, strong joints when levels of oestrogen decline in our 50’s and beyond.
With so many studies telling us how important it is to keep moving and exercising as we get older, it’s why I’m passionate about women turning around their joint health in menopause. If we leave it too long with stiff, sore joints, then we move less and less as we age.
Getting the right type of exercise and nutrients during menopause is important. however, as I often say to women at my live events, before embarking on too much exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, it’s important to reduce any inflammation that has been building up in joints as well as learning:
- Why sleeping all night is powerful for our joint health.
- The best nutrition to support your changing hormonal environment and to support joint health as we age.
That’s why I want you to understand the powerful nutrient your joints will love.
Olive oil, Inflammation and Joint Health – the powerful connection
Whenever I receive health screening forms in my in-box from women who sign up to the MyMT™ progammes, I look carefully to see if they have ticked the box indicating they are experiencing joint pain which has come on since they reached menopause. The majority of women tick that box. When I ask what their doctor or physio has said about their joint pain, invariably their response is ‘they can’t find anything wrong.’ That’s when I am thankful that they are on board with me!
Through my women’s healthy ageing studies, I discovered the incredible role that olive oil has in reducing inflammation in the body as we age. I encourage the use of omega 3-rich olive oil and discourage the popular dietary emphasis on coconut fats and various cooking oils, which have not been researched for joint health in menopause.
Nutrients for reducing inflammation in your joints come from olive oil – especially the nutrients oleocanthal and vitamin E. According to Australia’s Olive Wellness Institute, adding olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the diet is crucial to reducing joint pain and improving cardiac health as we age. This is why I have a focus on the Mediterranean Diet in the powerful MyMT™ progammes.
Olive oil contains tocopherol (vitamin E); coconut oil doesn’t.
Tocopherol or vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant necessary for hormonal and joint health during our menopause transition. Vitamin E is unique among vitamins because the biological activity of it varies considerably and for its adequate absorption, it requires fat digestion to be functioning normally. This is why in both of my 12 week programmes, I have researched how to reduce the inflammation and congestion in our liver so that we can better absorb the specific healthy plant fats that our body needs for reducing inflammation; not only in our joints, but throughout the entire body. Achieving this is not a one day wonder as many popular dietary fads promote. It requires a three month commitment – hence the length of my programmes.
The recommended daily intake from the FDA in America is 15mg daily but in New Zealand the recommended daily intake is 7-10mg, so take your pick! I recommend olive oil on the MyMT™ programmes as this has around 1.5 mg of vitamin E per tablespoon. Avocadoes, almonds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E, as is kumara (sweet potato):
“Evidence from randomised controlled trials shows olive oil exerts beneficial effects on markers of inflammation and endothelial function.”
[Schwingshackl et al., 2015].
From ‘struggle street’ to ‘marathon feet’!
If you are struggling with your changing health in menopause, then please join me on one of the MyMT™ progammes.
There is so much mis-information about how to look after our health these days, and as I discovered too, very little of it is supported by research specific to menopause. That’s why I had to use my expertise to figure it all out as part of my women’s healthy ageing studies. It’s so important for all of us to move freely and stay independent as we age. With menopause heralding the gateway to your biological ageing, it’s time to look after yourself and ensure that your joints stay working for you, especially because we all need to remain as active as we can as we get older.
I love this image of Kaye above – it was only just over a year ago that she was so troubled with insomnia, weight gain, sore joints and aching muscles when she went into menopause. Now look at her! She sent me this image recently and I was amazed that she had just completed her first-ever marathon!
Hope is at hand …
If you’re as frustrated by how you are feeling in menopause or post-menopause as I was, and are suffering from:
- lack of sleep,
- sore joints and muscles
- low energy
- weight gain
- increased anxiety
then please don’t lose hope. You can turn this around. When HRT and endless supplements didn’t help my joint problems and sleep issues, I knew that as part of my women’s healthy ageing studies, I needed to dig-deeper into the research and find an evidenced way through menopause – a way that could help women restore health, energy and vitality, so as to enjoy feeling healthy and functional into the next phase of life.
When I untangled the milieu of menopause, I put what I discovered into two 12 week online programmes so that you can feel as healthy and energetic as I do today! Last week I loved getting up into the beautiful Pisa Range in Central Otago in New Zealand and snow-shoeing 12 km. There was no way I would even have attempted this as I went into peri-menopause and was so troubled by my aching joints and muscles.
Hundreds of women have come on board and joined me in their own menopause transformations – many have kindly shared their stories here.
Dr Wendy Sweet [PhD/ MyMT™ Founder & Coach]
PS: If you do have joint pain that is causing you increasing pain or discomfort, I encourage you to get it checked out with your physio or medical provider as well.
- Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and the Protective role of oestrogen. Sports Med.2002, 32(2), 103-123]
- Schwingshackl, L., M. Christoph, and G. Hoffmann (2015). Effects of Olive Oil on Markers of Inflammation and Endothelial Function-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients, 7(9): p. 7651-75.
- Why olive oil is nature’s answer to ibuprofen Scientists discover painkilling ingredient. The Herald ; Glasgow (UK) [Glasgow (UK)]01 Sep 2005: 5.