Last week, I posted a piece about the importance of friendships and social support to our lives. Researchers agree that during the menopausal transition, the ability to nurture and nourish ties, coupled with overall satisfaction with that work, significantly predicts well-being.
A subset of 334 women from the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study were evaluated over a period of 8 years to determine the association between factors such as frequency and severity of hot flashes, hormone levels, number of negative life events and resources pertaining to mastery over and satisfaction with social support and overall well-being.
Study findings showed that for the majority, the menopause transition itself was not a predictor of well-being. Rather, when considered within a broader life context, one primary factor stood out – personal resources as they pertain to social support.
Undoubtedly, menopause can wreak havoc on our lifestyles, the way that we feel about ourselves and at times, the ability or inability to cope. ‘Tending and befriending,’ nurturing our personal relationships, communicating to one another when we need help, finding a shoulder to cry on or simply offering a hug not only reaffirms who we are but can also provide an essential foundation to see us through.
One of my favorite Aristotle quotes is this one:
What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies.
Cherish your soul today. Call or email a friend. Reach out to a family member you’ve not spoken to in awhile. Say hello to that neighbor you’ve been meaning to talk to but never find the time to. Mostly, take the time to well, take the time. You’ll be glad you did.Read More
Who says that this blog has to be serious all the time?!
The other morning, Fighting Mad Mary posted a video featuring her friend GloZell (star of the You Tube series, ‘Ghetto Gossip’), trying to squeeze her frame into a pair of spanx capri. For those of you who are unfamiliar with spanx, it was clearly invented by a man because no sane woman would ever do that to another female.
Sisters – who is going to carry the torch next? We all need to laugh as much as we need to cry. In this particular case, you may do both as you watch GloZell attempt to deal with the challenge at hand.
Spanx a lot L’eggs.
This one’s for you GloZell (and Mary and Lori and Wendy and Amy)!
It’s Wednesday, meaning that it’s time for me to debunk a popular myth about menopause or provide you with a bit of inspiration for hump day.
Tongues have been wagging a lot about soy isoflavones (plant-based compounds with estrogen-like properties) with the most disturbing reports linking high doses to genetic damage and stimulation of estrogen receptors to promote breast cancer.
So, do you need to be worried if your current menopause diet includes lots of soy? (You can read more about the potential benefits of soy here.) Evidently, the answer is NO!
According to a newly published study in the Menopause Journal, unconjugated forms of soy isoflavones are safe and well tolerated at daily doses as high as 900 mg/day. (Unconjugated forms are more readily absorbed into the bloodstream.)
In this study, researchers administered soy isoflavones or placebo to 30 postmenopausal women for 84 days. The goals of the study were to measure DNA damage, cell death and any changes that would indicate that estrogen was stimulated (which might lead to tumor growth). The researchers found no indication that high (900 mg) daily doses of soy caused DNA damage, increased cell death or affected estrogen. What’s more, any side effects (ocurring in only 1 woman) were mild or moderate in severity.
Granted, the study population is quite small and more data are needed to confirm these findings. Neverthless, the researchers do conclude that despite the considerable debate over the negative, estrogen-related effects of soy isoflavones, findings suggest only minimal effects.
If you are currently using soy isoflavones as a strategy to combat vasomotors symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, eat with ease. It appears that you are not increasing your breast cancer risk. Nevertheless, as my grandmother used to say “everything in moderation.”
Happy News for Wednesday!
[Cross-posted at EmpowHer.com]Read More
Something is in the air. Is it the moon moving into Virgo? The end of August, when fruit is ripe and bursting on the vine? What IS IT about late summer that makes me want to hold onto the old and challenge the new?
I’ve uncovered more news about bone loss as it relates to menopause. Early data suggest that fruit, namely Korean raspberries (better known as Rubus coreanus) may hold an important key to preventing bone loss.
Results of a study in rats that appears in the Menopause journal suggests that Rubus coreanus extract prevented bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency by enhancing the function of cells the form bone (osteoclasts) and promoting the death of cells (osteoclasts) that cause bone to break down.
The researchers caution that more study is needed but point to the mineral compositon of Rubus coreanus, which contains potassium, magnesium, and vitamins D and B2. They also suggest that Rubus coreanus extract improves bone density through an antioxidant effect.Read More
“Life before death.”
My mother told me a story yesterday when we spoke. She said that years ago, a dear friend’s mother died the day before the friend’s daughter was getting married. In Judaism, those who pass are typically buried with 24 hours. This is dictated by the Torah. Kabbalah teachings also suggest that immediate burial brings closure to the soul in terms of its relationship to the physical body, thereby allowing it to pass over. In this particular situation, the rabbi told my mother’s friend to have the wedding first, and then the funeral.
Life before death.
Although my mother told me this story within another context, I relate it to connections and their growing importance in our lives as we age.
Data from a study published in Psychological Review in 2000 suggests that women’s inherent response to stress is to ‘tend and befriend’ rather than ‘fight or flight;’ in other words, there is a biologically-defined strategy or pattern that involves caring for offspring, joining social groups, and gravitating towards friends under stressful circumstances. This is driven, at least in part, by the release of the hormone oxytocin, which coupled with endogenous opioids and other sex hormones, promotes maternal behavior as an alternative to the male-oriented fight and flee response.
Findings from the Nurses Health Study have also shown that friendships help prevent the development of physical impairment and facilitate a more joyful existence. What’s more, having a strong social network can lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve cholesterol levels.
Our community is ever more important as we begin to lose family members to illness, our children begin their own journeys and our hormones start to wreak havoc on our bodies and our minds. Nature has provided us with a built-in prompt to maintain those ever important bonds. Our inherent tendency to nurture completes the picture.
It appears that as women, we possess the strongest alternative strategy to aging in existance. Our friends.