The importance of supplements and more importantly diet for menopausal women and people with arthritis …
On the Greek island of Ikaria, the inhabitants are famous for having one of the world’s highest life expectancies – living on average, a decade longer than those in mainland Europe and the USA. The Island is one of the ‘Blue Zones’ places in the world which researchers continue to study for their remarkably healthy environments.
Indeed, in Ikaria, thanks to incredibly nutritious diets and stress-free lifestyles, supplements aren’t considered necessary. The inhabitants live a relaxed, sun-soaked retirement and eat a truly authentic Mediterranean diet – organic vegetables, local herbal teas, unprocessed goat’s milk, small amounts of free-range meats and eggs, authentic whole grains – and the famous wild greens which are said to contain ten times the antioxidant levels of their famous red wine (of which they reportedly indulge in two glasses a day). This means arthritis levels are low, and a woman’s passage through the menopause and beyond is supported by nature.
However, most of us don’t live in ‘Blue Zones’ such as Ikaria, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia or California’s Loma Linda region. And this means that supporting one’s diet and lifestyle, with the right supplements, can be important – particularly for menopausal women and people with arthritis.
Mimic the Mediterranean Diet
Studies with both menopausal women and sufferers of arthritis, suggest that following a Mediterranean diet and maintaining a body mass index of 25kg/m(2) or lower, can improve quality of life and symptoms. Researchers suggest that basing your diet around natural whole foods, can boost anti-oxidant levels, control inflammation and support balanced hormone levels. A healthy diet and BMI are the perfect foundation for health and are likely to maximise the benefits of taking any additional supplements.
Keys to a Mediterranean style diet
- 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables (organic if possible)
- Moderate intake of free-range meat, eggs and dairy
- Oily fish
- Beans and pulses
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- Herbal tea
- 1-2 glasses red wine daily
- Dark chocolate
Can Supplements Help Menopausal Bone Health?
Menopause is associated with hormonal changes and systematic inflammation in the body, which may contribute to issues including anxiety, depression, hot flushes, and heart disease risk and bone density loss. Researchers have identified pro-inflammatory cytokines as increasing in women as they age and pass through the menopause. The resulting inflammation is believed to be the cause of bone resorption, seen in post-menopausal women, which can lead to weakness, brittle bones and fracture-related falls.
To combat the impact of the menopause on bones, experts advise women to consume a nutritious anti-inflammatory diet, which is rich in key nutrients – most notably, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K2. Supplementing with a calcium product can be particularly effective, because it enables women to directly control their intake of the mineral and thus potentially obtain clinically proven effects. However, not all forms of calcium supplements are considered to be effective, with generic chalk-based calcium being poorly absorbed. In contrast, a calcium supplement such as LithoLexal OSTEOPOROTIC, which contains a combination of nutrients, includes marine-derived calcium, which ensures effective absorption and has a direct effect on bone tissue. As an example, studies have shown the compound to significantly inhibit pro-inflammatory and increase bone mineralisation by 300% compared to regular calcium products.
Supplementing to Combat Arthritis in Men and Women
Although women of menopausal age may be particularly prone to arthritis, the benefits of effectively absorbed calcium supplements extends to anyone suffering from the condition, at any point in life. Similarly to the menopausal risks to bone health, arthritis is linked to excessive inflammation, thought to be mediated by the same pro-inflammatory cytokines. In addition to marine-derived calcium for effective absorption, Litholexal Osteoporotic and Advanced, also contain Vercilexal – a fish cartilage proteoglycans extract which contains a very pure form of a well-known joint supplement – chondroitin sulphate. The supplement has been shown in research to help stimulate cartilage metabolism and have an anti-inflammatory action which may help to prevent joint breakdown.
Blue Zone researchers suggest that 20% of one’s health is genetic – the other 80% is related to lifestyle and environmental influence. By making changes to your lifestyle and diet, while carefully supplementing with the right nutrients, you can therefore help to positively impact health at any age, including menopausal issues and arthritis.
Imogen Wolsey, Dietitian and Sports Nutrition specialist