That’s Pam, second from the right. She was the instigator of a coffee and catch-up with women living near her, who are on the MyMT™ programme. I’m so pleased that they were able to meet before New Zealand went back into lockdown. Pam posted the photo in my private coaching group, saying “ It’s amazing when you have so much in common how it somehow feels like you’re catching up with old friends.”
Yes indeed. It feels a lot like that in my coaching community – women from around the world on a mission to not only feel better, but with my encouragement, to put their health at the forefront of their daily lives.
I often talk to women about the power of social connection and despite what we might believe, food and exercise are only part of the healthy ageing formula. Canadian Psychologist and social-science author, Dr Susan Pinker, has explored this aspect of women’s health as they age – I came across her work whilst undertaking my doctoral studies. As she mentions in her book, The Village Effect,
“Exercise and fitness is not the main determinant of our health as we age. And whilst it is important, if we aren’t sleeping, too much exercise becomes problematic. The purpose of sleep is to heal and restore and when we don’t get it, our immune health suffers. In fact, the major determinant of your health as you age is simply, ‘social connection’ and it’s more powerful than we think.”
Understanding the pillars of women’s health is important for menopause symptom management.
Women in their 50’s and early 60’s today are the first generation to be going into menopause and post-menopause, facing the complexities of modern life – and the scientific exercise and nutrition research has numerous gaps in how women need to manage this stage of life. For example, the highest incidence of poor health as women age, stems from post-menopause heart disease and many exercise and health practitioners have not had the understanding about this from an exercise and lifestyle perspective. Hence, many practitioners continue to train women with exercise prescription that has been intended for younger people and athletes. After all, this is the main content of sport, exercise and health-education curricula.
However, women’s ageing research is replete with information about inflammation and the contribution that this makes to worsening health as we age. But as I mention in my Masterclass on Menopause, we are unique! We have had a different life compared to our mother’s generation (the first of the Baby-boomers) but we often exercise, eat and manage our lives with information that is not suited to our needs in mid-life.
As I began to put the menopause-jigsaw together and look at why so many women experience worsening symptoms in their 50’s especially with changing cardiac, liver and muscle health, I followed the women’s health research. That’s when I began to look at other cultures and how, around the world, there are women from different cultures who don’t have the symptom experiences or health changes that many women from western cultures experience.
This led me on a journey to explore our changing health in mid-life and most, importantly, how we could reverse the effects of symptoms in menopause, not by following research that has been undertaken on younger people and males, but by looking at research that has been focused on women in mid-life.
The more I read, the more I began to leave behind the traditional models of menopause management. I also began to question the fitness and nutritional messages that we were subjected to as well. I had become so confused about how to look after myself because of the changing messages around nutrition, ketogenics, paleo, exercise, weight loss strategies, menopause supplements, HRT and more. And if I was confused, then I figured that a lot of other women might be confused too.
This was the start of how I began to think about how we could remove the confusion of menopause.
Which bought me to the Blue Zones research from National Geographic researcher, Dan Buettner, as well as new research from other scientists on health and longevity.
Blue Zones refers to a geographic area in the world where residents have greater longevity and health than people living in Western countries. Their lifestyles were researched by Dr Gianni Pes, from the University of Sassari in Italy and Ikaria became part of the Blue Zones group of countries. This is a term coined by Belgian demographer Dr Michael Poulain, who together with Dr Pes, have been studying the pockets of countries around the world who have the healthiest older people on the planet. These are called Blue Zone’s countries.
One of these areas is the island of Ikaria off the coast of Greece and it is home to some of the healthiest, most vibrant older women on earth. For example, Ikarian women eat at least 2 cups of green, leafy plants a day. More than 150 varieties of wild greens, such as purslane, dandelion, and arugula (rocket), grow all over the island of Ikaria. These rich, dark, wild mountain greens are a great source of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as carotenoids–the colorful pigments the body converts to Vitamin A. Greens such as argula (rocket) are now recognised in anti-inflammatory nutrient research for Type 2 Diabetes too.
Centenarians in all of the “Blue Zones” regions have access to leafy greens and hearty vegetables and they make up a large portion of their daily diets. In New Zealand, Australia, the UK and America, where many of you are from, there are plenty of these wild greens available and access to organically cultivated greens like collard, mustard greens, beetroot greens, spinach, silverbeet and kale that have nearly the same plenitude of nutrients. Today, Ikarians are almost entirely free of dementia and some of the chronic diseases that plague Western countries.
From this research I was able to develop my 7 Pillars of Women’s Health that we all need to focus on as we move through this life-stage. This is our template for moving forward through menopause, reducing symptoms and ágeing well’ – the missing link in much of the science is about how we ‘get there’ and move towards a healthier state in post-menopause. So many women are caught up with changing health during menopause, or changing weight, but don’t know how to undo the metabolic millieu. Nor do many know how to achieve this, or have the support to make the changes. That’s why I loved what Pam did with getting some of the girls’ in her community together for a cuppa. Social connection. None of them knew each other beforehand. But they do now. Priceless.
The basis of the MyMT™ symptom reduction programmes have come out of my doctoral research on women’s healthy ageing as we transition through mid-life.
With menopause as the gateway to our ageing years, this is why some of the Blue Zones research features in the MyMT™ programmes as well as in the coaching posts and nutritional information I provide as part of each 12 week programme. If you are finding that your health and energy levels are changing during your menopause transition, then I would love you to have access to all the fabulous information I have in these programmes. Not only do I teach you how to turn around your sleep, liver health, energy and symptoms, but for those of you who need to lose your menopause weight, then will you join me? Because I have an entire programme dedicated to your weight loss – it’s called Transform Me.
There are food plans and recipes in the MyMT™ Food Guide and recipe book which I have put together so you no longer have to worry about what to eat from now to the end of your days! Everything is sourced from your exclusive member area on the website.
Every day women tell me how much healthier and energetic they feel. I love it when they feel like this, because we all have a whole lot more living to do (30 years in fact) and we need to remain healthy, happy and free of the diseases that plagued our mother’s generation. Come join me on your healthy ageing journey …. and leave all your menopause symptoms behind.