Fired Up Friday- There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Menopause

I am starting to feel like Menopause is becoming divisive and it is frustrating as hell.

I am sick of our two sided culture and I see it slowly creeping into the Menopause and women’s hormone health arena and it is firing me up.

Let’s be better than this, women folk. There is another way! But before we go there, things are changing for the better. These are the 4 big things I see.

1. I am definitely on board with the excitement around more female specific research and focus on women’s health. It is long overdue. For a long time we have been considered ‘small men’ and most health research has been based on men. Women’s hormones have been been considered too complicated to ‘control for’ in research so we were largely skipped over.

Research is changing and I am stoked.

2. There has also been a recent clarification around the Women’s Health Initiative research done in 2002 around women’s hormone therapy. In a nutshell it was not great research, as it did not clarify the kind of hormones used (synthetic), how old women were, how long it had been since menopause, and other factors. In result hormone therapy was vilified and thought to increase women’s chances of getting heart disease and breast cancer. We now know that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a wonderful tool for many women.

The dialogue around menopause is changing, which is wonderful. (there is actually dialogue here, so that alone is a change)

3. The third thing I see changing is that women are learning about their body and their hormones. This is empowering us to take agency over our health and know how we can use various tools and lifestyle changes to improve how we feel as hormrones change monthly and at times of bigger change- puberty, pregnancy, perimenopause.

Women are choosing to understand their body and this rules.

4. Finally, there is more research around what drives symptoms, what drives disease, how genetics can be impacted by our environment, and how we can be proactive and prevent future disease states. This allows us to address the root causes of health and again take agency over our body and daily choices.

Focusing on root cause and prevention is a wonderful improvement for women and health in general


However, despite all of these awesome changes, what I see now is two teams emerging-

  1. The ‘you must be on hormone therapy if you consider yourself an educated and progressive woman and if you want to do menopause right’ team
  2. The ‘menopause is natural and I am taking nothing to get in the way of the natural transition’ team

I am here to scream from the mountain top that you do not have to pick a team. There is no right way to menopause, despite what anyone tries to tell you.

If you choose to use hormone therapy to help improve how you feel in perimenopause or menopause, that is wonderful. If you choose not to use hormones as you move through perimenopause or menopause that is wonderful too. If you use some hormones for a little while, until symptoms settle, that is wonderful also.

Again, there is no right or wrong. You just need to find what works for your unique body, your goals, your motivation to make changes, and your health.

Here is the thing- we are all going to go through menopause. There is not stopping that process. It can be debilitating for some women and symptoms can last for years for some while others don’t notice the changes as much. Symptoms can start as early as our late 30s. For many women, perimenopause is the more tumultuous with bigger swings. Since estrogen and progesterone have receptors all over our body, changes impact our brain, heart, bones, muscle, metabolism, gut, sleep, mood, and more. There are tools and lifestyle changes that we can use to ease our symptoms and reduce our risk for future problems. One of the tools to improve symptoms is using bioidentical hormones- estrogen, progesterone and/or testosterone. But there are other tools and they are not mutually exclusive to hormones, they include

  • Working on your gut microbiome, which directly impacts hormones
  • Supporting your liver end detox pathways, which impact hormones
  • Making sure you have optimal Magnesium, Zinc, B12, D and other vitamins and minerals as those impact how our body ages and how hormones change
  • Optimize blood sugar and how our metabolism changes with hormone changes
  • Reduce chronic inflammation, as inflammation impacts hormones and symptoms
  • Improve sleep, as sleep makes everything work better and improves blood sugar
  • Cradle the adrenals, HPA axis, and our stress response, as cortisol is the bossiest hormone that makes other hormone balance more challenging
  • Build muscle, as muscle is medicine as we get older and lose hormones
  • Improve digestion as that impacts hormones and also changes as hormones change
  • Utilize herbs and nutrients to ease symptoms such as GABA, Vitex, adaptogens, Valerian, more

We are lucky to have so many tools, increasing research, community, and information available to support women during this big transition, or initiation really. We work on all of the things listed above in the Hormone Club and they are relevant if you do or do not choose to use HRT.


With so much change happening in women’s health at midlife, I think the pendulum is swinging. In result, I am seeing the two sides emerge.

I believe that Perimenopause and Menopause are an initiation, a rite of passage, one that we have the potential to emerge on the other side a new and improved version of ourselves. HRT or not.

We do not want to suffer more than we have to though in the process of Perimenopause, Menopause, and into Post Menopause. So whatever tools you choose to use on your journey, which for most of us will be many, I hope you feel empowered and confident in your choices. I hope you understand your body and how it is changing. I hope you do not feel judged for your choices and I hope that you do not judge others. And above all else, I hope you emerge on the other side wiser and kinder and more badass and sure of yourself than ever.

What about you? What are your beliefs around this change?

xoxo Janel

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM

Janel is a board certified nutritionist, a certified functional medicine nutritionist and doctor of natural medicine. She is obsessed with helping people understand their body better and supporting them to improve health. She specializes in gut health, hormones, autoimmune disease, and energy. Janel has a mother that has taught her that with each decade life improves and women become wiser and more sure of themselves. Learn more about Janel here.

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Norway- Mountains, Water and FOOD To Fuel The Body and The Soul

Viking Sauce recipe below!

Waking up in Norway with a cold plunge in the icy fjord, followed by a delicious breakfast of salmon on dark bread and berries with yogurt while plotting the long days mountain adventure was a dream for this food and mountain loving girl.

I love travel when the food and activities of the day help you feel your best.

Norway is top for me in this department.

The green forests, snowy peaks, sod roofs, icy fjords, clean air, charming and colorful houses, and delicious foods all helped Norway win my heart.

Some of the food there is not my favorite (brown cheese anyone?) but there are so many foods that not only taste delicious but also work with my body. Think wild mushrooms, brightly colored berries, wild salmon, an assortment of nuts and seeds, warm soups and yummy stews, and dark delicious bread.

This place is heaven. Here are a few shots from our trip there in June about 6 years ago now that I am still savoring and trying to relive with my Viking Sauce……….


Morning ritual- hydrotherapy!


Vikings


Anderson’s Viking Sauce

I use this delicious sauce to flavor yogurt, or in soda water to make a delicious berry drink, or even on a spoon as an immune boosting tonic. Give it a try! It is rich, complex, and soothes the body and the soul.

What you will need

  • Elderberries- 2/3 cup dried (or 1.5 cup fresh)
  • Assorted berries- 1 cup
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated or sliced thin
  • 2 cups of raw local honey

Procedure

Bring water, berries, ginger and cinnamon to a slow boil in a pot on the stove. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and leave to cook for about 1 hour until it reduces down.

Turn off stove and allow to cool a bit

Strain mixture into a big bowl (I use a muslin bag)

Combine with honey and mix

Store in a glass container in the fridge and use on everything! My favorite way to use it is on plain full fat yogurt with nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts and sunflower seeds and berries. But a sparkling soda water with a splash is utterly delish too. YUM


I would love to hear about one of your favorite vacation places and the food that can bring you right back!

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM

Janel helps people use food and lifestyle to optimize how they feel and function. She specializes in gut health, hormones, resilience, and mountains. She is a lover of the wild and physiology of the body.

Fired Up Fridays#1. The Gap In Healthcare

FIRED UP FRIDAY TAKE 1

I get fired up about the gap in healthcare and I’m not sure why we don’t address it more openly. 

First off, there are a lot of magnificent doctors, nurses, and other medical workers out there doing important and hard work. I’m married to a brilliant doctor and my mom is a wonderful nurse.  

BUT

There are a lot of people with chronic health issues today who are not getting the support they need around their health. 

Both of those things can be true. (note, we will come back to that idea, it’s a big one)


These people who are struggling with chronic health issues need more.  

  • More time to be seen, heard and understood. 
  • More curiosity around what might be going on in their body.
  • More empathy around their story. 
  • More focus on WHY symptoms are happening and what is driving them. 
  • More support to make sustainable changes that impact health.  
  • More attention and help tracking signs/symptoms over time. 
  • More education around what is going on in their body. 
  • More practitioners who know how to methodically use food and lifestyle changes to support each person’s unique physiology. 
  • More practitioners who can refer them to others who can help support their health journey.
  • More support in addressing unique health issues and goals even if there isn’t a diagnosis, aka help functioning better.
  • More focus on preventative measures to move towards health and aging healthfully

Chronic health issues do not happen overnight. There is a progression and usually several factors at play. In many cases symptoms are not even the problem but instead information that something is going on in the body.

People come to me all the time with issues they have struggled with for years.  These often include unresolved chronic headaches, bloating, memory problems, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, anxiety, pms, body aches and pains, weight gain, difficulty paying attention, brain fog, rashes, immune problems, memory issues, etc

I have heard time and time again how frustrating and hopeless this can feel.  Often these people have seen doctors, maybe multiple doctors,  and nothing seems to come up. 

And honestly, I have heard doctors on the other end talking about how frustrating this population can be.   And I get it.  Our medical system is not designed for people with chronic issues.  They are incredible when there is trauma, or surgery needed,  when a life saving medication or therapy is required, etc. 

But again, there is a growing population that needs more AND there is a lot that can be done to improve signs, symptoms, and disease process even if your doctor does not know about it. There is a ton of new research and clinical evidence showing that food, nutrients, herbs, gut health, chronic inflammation, and lifestyle changes have a huge impact on how your body functions and how disease progresses and how genetics express themselves. Chronic disease does NOT happen overnight but instead it is a slow progression.

I have decided to stop arguing over western medicine vs natural approaches and I am working instead to fill this gap the best I can.

There is so much work that needs to be done here. 

There are people who do work slowly filling in this gap, who track history, timelines, story, who discuss physiology and how the body systems work together and are connected, who teach people how to listen to their body with a scientist’s mind, who are okay not knowing the answer right away but instead can sit in a place of curiosity while we investigate, who understand the nuances of how food and lifestyle impact each body uniquely, even impacting genetics and impacting how we age and who are happy working alongside physicians and any medical team. 

I am thrilled to be part of that system to fill the gap. 


I really feel like if we as health and wellness practitioners could acknowledge our own limitations as well as what our strengths are, we could truly serve people extraordinarily.  Because as I said earlier, there are incredible doctors AND people with chronic issues who need more.  Both can be true (thanks for that empowering phrase, sister Brittany).  

Have you experienced this gap? As a practitioner or patient? I would love to hear about it and talk about it more openly. 


Follow me on instagram to keep up with more Fired up Fridays.

Janel Ferrin Anderson DNM, NC, FNLP

Janel works and plays out of Truckee/Tahoe and is endlessly passionate about helping people understand their unique body better. Janel helps people use food, lifestyle, herbs, and nutrients to shift the terrain in their body towards greater health and function. She works one on one and in groups settings.

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