Nov. 16, 2023

Navigating Menopause: Insights, Adaptations, and Holistic Wellness with Alison Bladh

Navigating Menopause: Insights, Adaptations, and Holistic Wellness with Alison Bladh

In this podcast episode, Dr. Fitness invited health and wellness expert Alison Bladh on the show to share her insights into the various stages of menopause, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and understanding the symptoms associated with perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Listen in as they discuss the impact of hormonal changes on exercise and the need for adapting fitness routines to suit the evolving needs of the body. And stay tuned as Alison talks about sleep issues, night sweats, the pivotal role of nutrition in managing menopausal symptoms, the importance of gut health and the significance of stress management in navigating menopause.

With over three decades in the health and wellness sector, Alison Bladh is a distinguished nutritional and beauty therapist. Specializing in the nuances of menopausal women’s well-being, she heads her own clinic, offering dedicated support to women worldwide. Through individualized dietary and lifestyle strategies, Alison helps women harmonize their hormones, reignite their confidence, and unveil their inner brilliance. In the world of menopausal well-being, Alison Bladh stands out not only for her vast expertise but also as the founder of the groundbreaking 'Menopausal 5-Step Breakthrough Pathway."

• [3:05] Alison explains that perimenopause is a phase where hormone levels decline, causing various symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, mood changes, and cognitive issues.
• [6:04] Alison shares Speaker that menopause affects a woman's energy levels and exercise ability, particularly due to the lack of estrogen, which impacts the mitochondria and metabolism.
• [12:02] “Sleep deprivation during menopause can mimic symptoms of menopause itself, highlighting sleep's crucial role in overall well-being.”
• [16:25] Alison advises to reduce sugar intake to alleviate menopausal symptoms, as high sugar diets can worsen hot flashes and irritability.

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Alison Bladh, Nutritional Therapist


Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  0:04  
Hello, and welcome to Your Health Moment podcast. I'm your host Max Sturdivant better known as Dr. Fitness. On this podcast, I want to give you the tools to start, continue and never give up on your journey towards health. Now, whether you struggle with your weight, eating the right food, hydration, exercise, or even time management, you're in the right place, and I'm here for you. Now, let's dive right into this episode. 

Hey, I am so excited about today's show. We get to meet and speak with Alison Bladh. Don't get that right, Alison? Or did I just got that right. And Alison, how long have you been in the health and wellness business?

Alison Bladh  0:57  
Yes, I've been in the health and wellness industry or business for over, gosh, over 30 years?

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  1:05  
Uh, wow. And it's interesting, because I saw that, you know, some of the things that you work you're working in and working on have to do with menopause. And, you know, there are different types of menopause. And can you give me kind of a little bit of a background on the different types of menopause? And, you know, you know, how would you how do you address them? Or what do you do differently for each stage out or to the stage of menopause?

Alison Bladh  1:36  
Yeah, it's a great question Max is that is because not a lot of people would truly understand what you know, there's the, it's a transition. I think that was probably the the best way to explain it. Because what happens is we go we've got three stages we have perimenopause, menopause, and then post menopause. So perimenopause is the beginning, this is really where things start to become a bit unbalanced. And on average, obviously, this is very individual, but it starts in women around the age of 45. But it can be early can be later. So perimenopause is when that you know, your hormones just start to kind of become unbalanced. It's a bit like a bit like a roller coaster, you know, sometimes your estrogen can be very dominant and your progesterone can be low, you know, certain months, everything's all over the place. And because of this, this is when you can start to experience menopausal symptoms. So it's very common, these symptoms kind of just creep up on you. You know, when you're in your mid 40s is a time in in a woman's life where there's a lot of things going on anyway, you know, you can maybe have parents that are slightly older that need looking after you've got teenagers at home, you've got a career. So, these menopausal symptoms that just creep in, you don't necessarily always associate them with perimenopause, you just kind of think, Oh, I'm stressed. I'm tired. Interesting. But you know, fatigue is that is a big thing that happens in perimenopause, hot flashes. That's kind of the classic isn't it that we hear about when menopausal women weight gain, the typical weight around the stomach area like belly fat, as we call it? irritability, mood, change, anxiety, you know, it can it really can affect our cognitive well being as well because we need estrogen and we need progesterone and testosterone which gradually did decline through a woman's life as well, but we need those hormones for our overall health. So perimenopause is kind of where things become unbalanced. And okay, since the beginning of menopause, they'll

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  3:57  
Allison, do women usually know that it's happening? Or is there something that their families or significant others can do to support them during this transition? Or maybe we notice it first. It's,

Alison Bladh  4:17  
it's difficult because you don't a lot of women don't ever think that they're in perimenopause. You know, they put their symptoms down to life in general, you know, oh, I'm stressed. I'm working too much. You know, I've got a lot going on. That's why I'm tired. That's why I'm irritable. That's why I'm moody. But you know, if you if you really, knowledge is power, isn't it when you understand that this is going to happen to you when as you get older, as a woman? If you think Oh, hold on a minute. I'm actually being quite moody or I'm being quite irritable, and brain fog, you know, not being able to remember things that like hazy feeling. So If family members might start thinking, You know what, what, what's the matter? What, why and why is mum for example behaving the way she is? But it's it's knowing that isn't it and knowing that it's related to perimenopause, because a lot of the time when women go and see a health care professional, and the healthcare professional will say, Oh, hold on a minute, this could be perimenopause. And you know, the woman will say, No, no, no, I'm far too young. I can't possibly be in menopause. So it's a difficult one because it creeps up on you. But I think the most important thing is to be aware of the symptoms. I mean, hot flashes are that's your classic symptoms. So if you're starting to get those that really is a sign that you're having, you know, your hormones are becoming decline, they will decline over years. And that leads to many, many different symptoms and health outcomes. But you know, perimenopause is that phase. It's kind of the transition into menopause. And what menopause is, really, is when you haven't had menstruation. So when you haven't ovulated for a year, you are then in menopause. And so when we think of menopause, menopause is actually really only one day, it's the day after you haven't had a period consecutively for a year, you are then in menopause, I mean, man, no means ministration. Pause is the stopping off. And then all the time after that, you're in what we call post menopause. So that is where your, your hormone levels, you know, you're not ovulating anymore. So estrogen and progesterone at a very low, your body still produces a very small amount by your adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys. But you have very low levels of hormones if, of course you can take hormone replacement therapy, if that's something that you want to do. But in post menopause is the rest of a woman's life. And when we're living much longer, it'd be 30 plus years, outlets

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  7:12  
how have you seen menopause, perio, menopause, and post menopause and of course, menopause impact, a woman's ability to exercise and continue their exercise regimen and get really good results.

Alison Bladh  7:30  
Yeah, that it's really interesting question Max. Because what you find, and I can I can, I mean, I'm in perimenopause. And I can really relate to this myself that, you know, I'm very active a runner, you know, all of that. I just can't, I don't have the energy to go running long distance that I had before. And you know, when you really look at the biochemistry and the science behind it, it's the effect that estrogen or the lack of estrogen has on the mic mitochondria, which is your energy powerhouse in your cells. And it also has a huge effect on our metabolism, our energy levels. So what happens when women come into this phase, you need to look at exercise in a different way, you need to maybe not do that, like super high intensity all the time, doing more things like yoga, that walking is still getting your heart rate up with certain exercises, but not really doing that, like full on, because you just can't do it. And it causes it can cause a stress response, which then can like escalate into many other things. So women need to reassess their exercise regimes when that when they come into menopause.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  8:55  
Oh, so hey, if you've been doing CrossFit prior to menopause, maybe he's back on that is I think what I'm hearing possibly.

Alison Bladh  9:09  
Yeah, and I think naturally, I mean, obviously, it's, this is very individual, and I'm sure there's many women out there that carry on with it, but you will notice a change, you'll notice that you won't have that same amount of energy. And rather than just trying to fight that, you know, what I would recommend is that, okay, I'm gonna find some other form of exercise to do that suits my body more this phase of life because we changed our way or the way that we were the exercise that we do, we have to adapt.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  9:43  
I see that with men as well. I'm 58 now so I have totally changed the exercises that I like to do when I was in my 40s. Now that I'm in my late 50s, my body responds really differently. My energy level is very different. And I think I've relied more on habits that I've created to sustain me, because if I didn't have some of the wellness habits that I've adopted, I don't know if I would have the wherewithal to continue to be as motivated and consistent with, with exercise.

Alison Bladh  10:27  
Yeah. Yeah, that's a great point, I think, you know, we have to this many different phases to live on. And this is just a part of life, it's a natural phase a woman will go through and it's really, rather than fighting it, you know, just thinking, Okay, well, you know, this is how I am now I'm going to maybe do different forms of exercises, and you really have to just look after yourself a bit better when you get older as a woman, and, you know, accept that this is happening and have the knowledge and and I think once you understand why, you know, estrogen and progesterone and testosterone are so important for a woman and it, you know, we tend to think of them as sex hormones, don't we? Which, which they are, but estrogen and all of them are so important for other bodily processes. I mean, bone health, heart health, cognitive health, if they're needed, we have estrogen receptors all over the body. They affect every single system.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  11:33  
They definitely do. What has helped, do you have any recommendations to actually help women that are going through menopause? Is there something they can do with exercise? Well, you mentioned with exercise, you know, maybe look for not as much impact or something like yoga or maybe Pilates. But when it comes to nutrition, do you have thoughts about that or even sleep? Do you have thoughts about that? Yeah,

Alison Bladh  12:02  
sleep. I mean, that's a huge one, isn't it? And that, again, is an area that can really be affected during perimenopause and menopause because it's, again, you know, we need estrogen for it helps in the production of melatonin, but we what you can find is that we women suffer from night sweats, which obviously keeps you awake. So sleep is it can be a really big problem for women in menopause. And it escalates doesn't it if we're not sleeping, we just feel terrible. And you know, you feel tired, you feel irritable, you crave you know, carbohydrate, sugary carbohydrates because your body needs quick energy. And then you know, that escalates into weight gain. Sleep is a is a really big thing. And it's, I mean, you could do a whole podcast on sleep and the things that you need to think about, you know, not doing stimulating things before you go to bed. You know, not looking on your phone and surfing social media and not watching telly doing something calming for you go to sleep, not getting stimulants.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  13:15  
I noticed that when you were describing a lot of the symptoms of menopause, and perimenopause, they sounded a lot like the symptoms you were describing when you were describing lack of sleep. The they sound very similar to the lack of sleep things that you were like irritability, um, no energy, current, you know, those also sound like traits that someone might have if they were sleep deprived as well. Is that your read on it? Yeah,

Alison Bladh  13:53  
absolutely. It really is. I mean, there's quite a similarity there isn't there between lack of sleep and menopausal symptoms? Absolutely. And if sleep is just so crucial for everything, and it's not just life's no fun is it if you're tired all the time. So I think really get that if you can sleep well, seven to eight hours, that makes a huge difference in how you feel really does just even trying to go to bed 20 minutes early that you really have to prioritize sleep. You know, and there's many things that you that you can do as a menopausal woman to riot to really try and, you know, help with night sweats. And, you know, if you wake up at two, three in the morning, and then you have this light your brain starts thinking about everything that you should be doing, you know, breathing techniques can really help that. So there are quite a few different things that you can, you can try to help with sleep again, it's quite individual, but I think the The key is to ask for help get ask for support in that area.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  15:04  
Where's where do you find is the best place to find that support? Is it traditional health care? Or is it something else? Or another place that people can find that support to get through menopause?

Alison Bladh  15:21  
Yeah, I mean, in my part of world, I'm in Europe, there's a lot of think, you know, I think doctors are fantastic. So this isn't I'm not saying anything against them, but they don't really have time do they to go into more more what we call lifestyle medicine when when people go and see them. So looking at more like holistic practitioners, like I mean, like, myself, as a nutritional therapist, I've worked with lifestyle medicine, and the functional medicine model. So her lap, holistic practitioners, nutritional therapists, you know, all of those people have the knowledge of techniques to help people sleep. I mean, obviously, if you're really suffering, then I would always talk to your health care, you know, your doctor first. But there are, you know, there's the holistic practitioner, as well, that can look at other areas that that can help rather than just having to take sleeping tablets

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  16:21  
that have a whole host of side effects. Most of the sleeping tablets that are available. So about nutrition, can you give us more about nutrition and how nutrition is helpful when it comes to reducing some of the symptoms of menopause?

Alison Bladh  16:41  
Yeah, nutrition is that is a huge piece, really, when you think that the health and wellness of menopause are women, it's a bit like a jigsaw, you've got to have the lifestyle, the nutrition, and then you know, the mindset piece, and then maybe hormone replacement therapy, if that is the route you want to go. But when it comes to nutrition, sugar, you know, we all know Don't worry that sugar processed highly refined foods are not beneficial for health. And when we look at menopause, when we look at research, you know, it's shown in research, if you have a high sugar diet with all these processed foods, it makes your symptoms worse. It's been shown with especially with like hot flashes, and irritability. If you're eating these foods, that are packaged with many, many different ingredients on that really aren't particularly nutritious for us in general, they can make menopausal symptoms worse. So one key thing that I would say to menopausal women is reduce, I appreciate it's not easy to stop eating sugar really is it in the in the food environment that we live in. But to reduce your sugar intake will be very beneficial for you because another aspect of menopause is that we have, we see that women become less sensitive to insulin. And Insulin is a hormone that allows our body to utilize glucose, which is the energy. And because of all the metabolic changes in women as we age and with menopause, our bodies don't react to that hormone the same so that can it have that we have an increase in blood sugar levels. And what does that mean? It means fat around the stomach area. In all the many other detrimental health aspects that happen with high blood sugar, you know, if you don't take control of that, that can actually lead to diabetes too. So sugar and processed foods really, really use them. The best thing to do is really just, it doesn't have to be difficult. All you should really do is eat like Whole Foods eat the foods that we as human beings were meant to eat, you know, a piece of broccoli. So

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  19:06  
could you give us an example? Yeah,

Alison Bladh  19:08  
and example, okay, if we say people that eat meat, you could have like a piece of chicken and a nice fresh salad with greens with tomatoes or cucumbers or maybe some nuts and seeds on it. And then with olive oil addressing it doesn't have to be difficult. It can be really simple. And when we come into menopause because of all the changes in the insulin, less insulin sensitive when menopausal women should really you know we can eat absolutely carbohydrates, but we should get carbohydrates from whole foods like whole grains that are rich in fiber and vegetables and reducing our carbohydrate levels. We don't need to have like half the plate full of carbohydrates. You should have a palm sized full of protein, you know protein, like chicken, fish, nuts and seeds being the soil, all of those delicious things. And then really, you know, just fill your plate up with salad, vegetables. And then a little bit of carbohydrates. So brown rice, quinoa, all of those things that are high in fiber that digests slowly so they don't cause the peak in blood sugar. That is really, really key for menopausal women. And I mean nutrition that there's many I work very individually with my clients, but you can start having digestive issues as you would go into menopause. You know, really looking at that as well. Probiotics. gut bacteria, you know, looking after our gut bacteria is really important. You know, the good gut gut bugs, which again, are affected during menopause. So eating things like kimchi, sauerkraut, all the all the fermented vegetables, so our gut bugs love those. So things like yeah, fermented sauerkraut is a great one and kimchi, and you can actually make those at home sauerkraut quite

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  21:21  
easily didn't realize sauerkraut was easy to make.

Alison Bladh  21:25  
Yeah, I've actually got a recipe on my website, Max, you can go and have a look at it. Eventually, it's just white cabbage and salt. And you kind of like massage the cabbage until you break down all the fibers and then you put it in a big glass jar very, very tightly. And basically just leave it to ferment and you just open the lid every day and let out the gaps. It can be a bit smelly when you do that. But apart from that, it's fine. Well, I

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  21:55  
do love it. I mean, I love sauerkraut. I love kimchi. So now I'd never thought of making it myself. So it's super easy. Really cool to. Allison, for people that are experiencing menopause or perimenopause, even post menopause. How can they get in touch with you to? I mean, I know you're in Europe now. But do you do any kind of online coaching with people?

Alison Bladh  22:23  
Yeah, I do. Virtually predominantly, like 98% of my work now is online. So I work globally. I have clients from from all over the world. So the best way really to to get in contact with is through my website, which is Allison That's belay D H. Blog. And on there, you've got that, you know, I've got resources page where there's lots of wonderful free downloads, ebooks, recipe books for menopausal women. Yeah, I've got all the links on virtually on all social media platforms. So you can find all the links to that there. That's really the best place to get in touch. And then what I like to do with clients, initially is, you know, I do a free call with clients if they want to, you know, so I can have a chat and tell them how I work and tell them how I can help them. But all the details are on my website.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  23:21  
I just want to thank you for being here. Alison, is there anything else that we may have missed touching on that's really important for us to touch on? Yeah,

Alison Bladh  23:28  
I think one thing, which is a huge subject is stress. Just you know, finally just to say that, because when when a woman is menopausal, if you have you know you're suffering from chronic stress, which a lot of people seem to be these days, it just aggravates and makes everything 100 times worse, because of the stress hormones of stress response. I think you really have to be honest with yourself and sit down and look at your life and think I feel stressed all the time you have to do I do a stress audit with my clients where we sit down and we look at the areas of their life that are causing the most stress. And we try to find ways that we can reduce that because stress is so detrimental for health.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  24:15  
It's funny, as you say, you mentioned stress that usually when I believe like you do that it's incredibly detrimental. But when I speak to people on normally about it, when I'm doing a type of assessment, few people say they have stress that first well how's your stress? Oh, stress, I know it's nothing. I'm good. And then you start talking to them. And you start hearing like oh my god, it's they have more stress than they ever really realized once they really start exploring it honestly like, well, how are your kids and you know, like real simple questions. You know, how are you kids things are going well. Yeah, finding the food you want. You're sleeping well, and all this stuff. So starts coming up about their stress. So I don't think we wear our stress on our sleeve, the awareness of how much stress we're enduring, until someone actually takes the time to really not just ask, but to really ask questions that give us the opportunity to really explore it. Yeah. So I

Alison Bladh  25:21  
totally agree with you. I think we just, we kind of battle along, don't weigh in, maybe it's something to do with the you don't people, we don't want to admit that we're stressed or, you know, this busy life that everybody has, it's you, maybe you need someone like me, and you to sit down with them say, Well hold on a minute, you don't have any time for yourself, and you are actually not feeling very great. So let's have a look at the stress and see what we can do. Yeah,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  25:45  
no doubt about it. Thank you, Alison so much. And I really appreciate meeting you. And there's so much to dig into. I mean, menopause in itself. I think for most men, it's like a great mystery. It's like one of the five Glorious Mysteries, every we know very little about it. Have, you may have experienced some things with it, but we're just so on the periphery of it. We're like, kind of clueless. So thank you for giving me the information to help me to be a lot more in tuned, and a lot more of a better listener for people that are experiencing menopausal symptoms. So I really appreciate you doing that. So you've done that for me. So I'm sure you're doing it for all the people that are listening as well. No,

Speaker 1  26:42  
thank you, sir. It's a pleasure talking to you, Max. Thank you. Thank you for having me on your podcast.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  26:47  
I really appreciate you being here. Have a great day. And how can people reach you before we go Allison, I want to make sure that they have your email address or your social. At least your Instagram. Yeah, my

Unknown Speaker  27:02  
Instagram is Alison. Allisonbladh. So it's at Alison as a l i s o n BLADH. You can get me on Instagram. I'm on Tik Tok. Facebook. It's not Twitter anymore is it X it's called now and virtually all social media LinkedIn all social media partners if you Alsison Bladh, you'll find me on all of them. Okay,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  27:28  
Hey, remember, Alison is spelled with one L in this case. And be sure to check the show notes because we're going to make sure all of Alison's information is in the show notes, just in case you missed it now. Thank you so much for listening. Alison, thank you so much for being here. Once again, you're listening to Your Health Moment. And, boy, anything and everything you wanted to know about menopause is with us today where Alison is so happy and so open with sharing it. Remember, Alison has a book that has great recipes, and I think that you definitely want to be sure and reach out to her. If you know someone going through menopause or if you in fact, have gone through menopause or in a post menopausal state or perimenopause, you might be just at the beginning of it. So definitely reach out for support. You do not have to go through it alone. There is someone out there who is an expert, and her name is Alison Bladh. So thanks again. Have a great day. God bless. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Your Health Moment podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can visit our website, for past episodes, show notes, and all the resources that we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me on social media to send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes that you've been listening to and don't be shy about requesting any other show topics that you might like to explore.

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