Menopause simply means to stop menstruating; yet the word is freighted with a far greater burden than it needs to carry. Western women in particular, often have a special dread for this phase of their life. To many it means loss; loss of youth, attractiveness, hair and libido. It means problems: hot flashes, metabolic and hormonal issues, weight gain. In our culture, menopause is often medicalized; we have symptoms of menopause, it’s almost seen as a time of illness, whereas in truth, it is a natural phase of life.
With a shift in perspective, language and how we nourish ourselves, everything can change.
In Chinese Medicine, menopause is described as a ‘second spring’. Can you feel the lift, the sense of lightness that terminology brings? There’s also a sense of possibility for new things to happen, new ways women over 50 can live fruitful lives. We have so much valuable experience, wisdom and deep intelligence to offer the world!
We spoke to health coach and nutritionist Jacqui Niehaus, who shared just how important salt is for hormonal health during the second spring of our lives. Jacqui, who has a Master’s Degree in Biostatistics and an advanced diploma in nutritional therapy, helps women to understand the relationship between nutrition and their hormonal health. She gave us some interesting facts to consider when it comes to understanding the role of salt during this transformational time of our lives.
During menopause, the production of sex hormones starts decreasing. During our reproductive years, we make a lot of progesterone each time after ovulation. Progesterone, amongst many other functions, promotes the normal retention of sodium. However, when ovulation ceases, women stop producing as much progesterone, so there’s less retention of sodium.
With less progesterone in your body, there may be a correlating higher level of estrogen relative to progesterone during menopause. This is often referred to as estrogen dominance. This may not always be evident in blood tests as women can store estrogen in their tissues which is not as easily measured. In addition, there are many environmental endocrine disruptors such as xenoestrogens found in cosmetics, cleaning products and food preservatives. These mimic the impact of estrogen, so contributing further to estrogen dominance.
Optimal liver function is especially important here. A sluggish liver means estrogen/xenoestrogens aren’t being eliminated via detoxing by the liver.
High levels of estrogen causes sodium loss, so the more estrogen is in your system, the more sodium you are losing.
Finally, as we get older, our thyroid function tends to slow down. Salt is needed for optimal thyroid health as it helps to deliver iodine derived from your diet to the thyroid gland.
It’s worth noting that Oryx Desert Salt is one of the few salts in the world that is naturally free of iodine, which is good news for those with an iodine intolerance.
The hormonal dance between the decrease of progesterone and relative increase of estrogen results in less sodium in our bodies. We need to eat good salt for optimal hormone health.
We mentioned in an earlier blog that a study revealed we should be consuming around 4 – 6 grams of sodium a day. There’s 2g of sodium in 5g of salt. That’s around a teaspoon of salt for every 2g of sodium.
So go ahead, eat good salt! Your hormonal system will thank you for it.
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