Caffeine

The first simple step is to reduce your caffeine intake which can be found in coffee, tea, coca cola, and energy drinks and increase your water. This can be achieved by switching to herbal teas to improve your energy levels, mood, headaches, sleep disturbances and improve menopausal symptoms.

Caffeine is a stimulant known as methylated Xanthine which acts on your central nervous system by affecting various neurotransmitters such as glutamate. This effects alertness known to improve mood. However, this is debatable in the fact caffeine increases glutamate release in the posterior hypothalamus influencing sleep. This is by increasing your wake- active histamine neurons and reducing slow- wave sleep known as your deep sleep activity. Therefore your quality of sleep declines.

Caffeine also acts on your adenosine antagonist giving vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating and palpitations. If you are going through the menopause too much consumption of caffeine can make these symptoms worse.

Did you know caffeine can affect your blood sugars and metabolism in a negative way by enhancing the parasympathetic activity? This is because caffeine contains chlorogenic acid a chemical compound known as polyphenol found in coffee.

Also, if you suffer with IBS or symptoms relating to IBS such as bloating, constipation, flatulence, diarrhoea, or stomach pain then reducing your consumption of caffeine is beneficial to improve symptoms. The recommendations is to reduce caffeine to below 400mg which is approximately 3 cups (not mugs) of tea/ coffee per day is beneficial. This is because caffeine has been shown to increase levels of gastric acid secretion causing gastrointestinal (stomach) complaints.

An important strategy would be to reduce tea or coffee to 3 cups or less and to increase water intake towards 2 litres a day to improve hydration levels. Mild hydration as little as 2% of body weight impairs physiological and performance responses. Increasing water intake can be achieved by consumption of herbal teas which can also have beneficial health effects.

Increase your water intake slowly. You may find you go to the toilet a lot to begin with. The best way to start is to know how much water you are currently consuming and increase by 500ml a week. For example if you only consume 1 litre a day then try to increase to 1 ½ litres for the next 7 days. Then in week two increase to the required quantity to 2 litres per day!

If you start to go to the toilet in the night when you would not normally do so then try not to drink at least 1-2 hours before bed!