5 drinks that can upset your menopause

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

06 February 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I’m going to talk about drinks. Now, over the last year or so, I’ve mentioned, on many occasions, about the drinks that you shouldn’t be drinking or you should be cutting down on. But I’ve not really gone into it into great detail on why they can be so bad for you. So I thought, today, I’d have a little go. And it’s just one of these things… Unfortunately, the things that we like, very often, tend to be the things that are quite not so good for us.

Drink No.1 – Coffee

So let’s look at coffee first. The problem with coffee is mainly the caffeine, and caffeine is a stimulant. And we know that going through the menopause, our nervous system is going to be really stressed just by itself because of all the hormonal changes going on. And if you drink coffee on a regular basis, your nervous system is going to get wound up and wound up and wound up. And that will give you symptoms like flushes, palpitations. It can give you headaches. It can give you itchy skin, and it can interfere with your sleep. And we know that even drinking a cup of coffee early afternoon, it can take the body such a long time to process everything that there can be still caffeine whizzing in your system as you go to bed. So an early afternoon cup of coffee can actually be one of the reasons why you may not be sleeping particularly well at this time.

Drink No.2 – Tea

We’ve also got tea. Now tea is possibly not quite so bad as long as, unlike me, you like builder’s tea and you like it really, really strong, because there’s still a good amount of caffeine in tea too. And that is going to give you exactly the same symptoms. And I know, you know, if you’re like me, I tend to like a cup of tea early evening. But that can actually be enough to interrupt your sleep and cause wakeful moments during the night as well.

Decaffeinated coffee and tea

Now, people often say to me, “Can I not take decaffeinated coffee and decaffeinated tea?” The problem with decaffeinated coffee is, very often, the caffeine is extracted using chemicals, and you then end up getting chemicals from the extraction process rather than the caffeine. So you’re still getting a little bit of pollution, if you like, from the actual coffee.

Decaffeinated tea is possibly not quite so bad because good quality tea will be reasonably high in antioxidants, so you will get a nice little benefit from that. But too much tea will actually wash minerals like calcium and magnesium out of your body. And remember, at this time, calcium and magnesium are so important for your bone health, for your muscles, for your mood and for sleep as well. Magnesium is really important one to help you calm your down before you go to bed at night. So drinking a lot of tea, even if it’s decaffeinated, is not particularly good.

Remember too, that green tea has a little bit of caffeine in it as well. So although you could possibly drink more cups of that during the day, I would still avoid having a green tea in the evening and go maybe for some kind of herb tea.

Drink No.3 – Fizzy drinks

Now what about fizzy drinks? Well, oh dear, no, no, no, for several different reasons. Your fizzy drinks have even either got loads of sugar in them, I think some of them have something like eight teaspoons of sugar per can. Now sugar is a real culprit for triggering hot flushes and night sweats. Loads of sugar will shoot your blood sugar levels up which will give you a big hit of energy. And after maybe half an hour or so, you’re gonna feel like you want to sleep under the table. It’s really bad for you. Sugar can also cause problems with your joints, with your digestion, and also your skin too. It can really cause kind of motley skin and itchy skin.

Artificial sweetners

But I hear you say, “But I am taking artificial sweeteners.” No, artificial sweeteners are artificial. So why would you want to put anything artificial into your body? Artificial sweeteners are now known… There’s a lot of research coming out about this now. So, you know, look out for, in women’s magazines and the newspapers, they are beginning to realize that artificial sweeteners can interfere with your blood sugar controls which are often upset anyway because of the hormonal changes. And that can actually make you put on weight. So you may well be drinking sugar-free fizzy drinks thinking that you’re doing yourself a favor, and that may well be contributing to your weight gain or the fact that you can’t actually lose weight as much as you can.

The other problems with fizzy drinks is that they contain something called phosphorous, and phosphorous is very acidic and that can actually start to attack your bones. And in the menopause, we already have the possibility of weakening bones because of osteoporosis. So fizzy drinks are really something that should not be touched at all during the menopause, and leading up to the menopause. Because if you’ve been drinking fizzy drinks for a long time, then, you know, your bones and your blood sugar control may be even slightly weakened before you actually hit the menopause.

Drink No.4 – Fruit juices & smoothies

And last, but…oh, not quite last, but nearly, is fruit juices. And a lot of people actually say to me, “Well, I have a smoothie every day or I have a juice every day. That surely can’t be bad for me.” Now, smoothies are not so bad because you are using the whole fruit and vegetable. But fruit juices, even if you juice yourself or if you get these juices from cartons, you get a lovely range of vitamins and minerals in them, but they are very high in sugar because there is no fibre in them. And if you have a glass of fruit juice, that is going to give you one really big sugar hit. And in a way, although you’re getting the health benefits, you will get roughly the same reaction, sugar-wise, as you would from drinking a can of fizzy juice. So fruit juices, I would…you know I don’t drink them at all and I just advice people to really cut down and only have them occasionally, as a little bit of a treat.

Fruit smoothies, as I said before, you’re getting loads of benefits from the fibre, the vitamins and the minerals. But if you have only fruit and you’re having one or two of those a day, then again, you’re getting a huge sugar hit. And at the end of the day, once all this has been broken down, then the body can’t really distinguish between the sugar that you have got from your fizzy drinks to the sugar that you’ve actually got from your fruits. So, again, smoothies, try not to live on them, have them as a little added bonus to your healthy diet rather than a big focus for your diet.

Drink No.5 – Alcohol

And now, last but not least, is alcohol. And this is another one, oh dear, oh dear. Now I’m not saying don’t ever have drinks again because, you know, I do love a nice glass of wine occasionally. The problem with alcohol is that it’s masquerading as something that it’s not. And I know, you know, maybe Friday night and I would just think, “Oh, I’m going to go home, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to have a nice glass of wine.” And people do, in the assumption that it’s going to relax you. But the problem is that once you start to feel relaxed from that first glass of wine, the second part of the alcohol is going to start kicking in and this is the really destructive bit.

Alcohol is a depressant and you only need to have maybe more than one small glass. And instead of getting the benefits of feeling relaxed and slightly mellow, you’re going to start to feel really down. And you feel a little bit down and then you think, “Oh, I’ll just have another glass and I will feel better.” And this is where you can end up drinking more than you actually intended to on any particular occasion.

The problem with alcohol as well is that it will really affect your sleep quite badly. And I know a lot of people say, “Well, I have a little drink before I go to bed because it helps me sleep.” Yes, it probably knocks you out a lot quicker, so you get off to sleep really quickly instead of tossing and turning. But what alcohol does is it keeps you down in a very deep sleep, and that is not good because you’re not getting your REM sleep which is the sleep where you do the dreaming and the processing. You need REM sleep for your emotional health. And if you are in a very, very deep sleep because of the alcohol, you’re not going to get that benefit. The problem, again, at some point during the night, is that the alcohol will start to wear off. And you will come from a very deep sleep, and very often, you will be wide awake really, really quickly. And you will then find you’re tossing and turning all night and you can’t get back to sleep.

The other problem with alcohol is that it’s very dehydrating. And if you are already getting night sweats or you’re getting hot flushes, then drinking alcohol regularly is actually going to compound the problem as well.

When can you have these drinks?

So, on that depressing news, what can you do about all these drinks? If you want to have a little cup of coffee and, you know, a good cup of coffee for me is, “Oh, I so enjoy it,” but you have it early in the morning or reasonably early in the morning because that will then give your liver time to process the caffeine, so that it is not going to interfere with your sleep. One cup a day for most people will be absolutely fine.

One of the really important things as well is go for really good quality coffee. The reason being is that coffee, and unfortunately chocolate, both of those are probably the most highly chemically sprayed crops on the planet. And you will get residue of that in your normal coffee. So if you’re going to have coffee, have good quality and try to get organic coffee as well. And that way, you will be getting the nice benefits and the enjoyment of the coffee without quite so much of the bad effects from it.

As I explained with tea, you know, maybe start swapping. If you drink a lot of tea, then start swapping over to green tea. You’ve got loads of lovely herb teas as well that you can actually try too.

If you’re looking at fruit juices, as I said before, just go for them occasionally, have them as a little bit of a treat.

And alcohol, if you want to have alcohol, then try, if possible, to just have one small glass. Again, go for organic wine, if possible, purely because the grapes will not have been sprayed with chemicals and you will get a much purer alcohol. And I do think that sometimes those hangovers that we get are not actually due to the alcohol but just the fact that the wine that we’ve picked has got an awful lot of chemicals in it.

Coffee substitute

The other thing you can look at, which I nearly forgot, obviously, a little bit of menopausal brain today, is you can look at coffee substitute. We do a lovely one called Bambu, which has no caffeine in it. And this is a nice one because you can actually drink it before you go to bed. So it’s nice and calming.

Bambu® coffee substitute

A tasty, instant and caffeine free alternative to coffee.

Bambu® is a 100% natural coffee alternative. The recipe was created by Alfred Vogel more than 50 years ago and contains organic chicory, Turkish figs, malted barley, wheat, and Greek acorns.

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Remember to drink water

So I hope I haven’t depressed you too much with this. But, you know, if you do have a little lot of these drinks on a regular basis, then you might actually find that just cutting down slightly, and remember, drinking loads and loads of water, you might find that might be enough to ease your symptoms off.

So I look forward to seeing you next weekon A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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