For so many of us, midlife marks the beginning a menopause journey that can have a debilitating impact on how we live our life, so it was fascinating and reassuring to catch up with Rebekah Brown for our January interview. As founder of MPowder – a vibrant midlife community and powdered supplement range that specifically targets perimenopause and menopause – Rebekah’s knowledge and insight into this time of life is comforting, inspiring and sophisticated. Read the full interview for her own menopause experience that became the foundation for MPowder.
First of all, can you tell us a little about MPowder and how it all began?
MPowder is a vibrant, award-winning menopause co-creation community with supplements loved by thousands of women. Based on science and formulated by our naturopathic, herbalist and lifestyle medicine team, our blends are tested for efficacy via continuous tracking within our community. We also offer an inclusive space where individuals can evaluate interventions, expert insight, personal stories and emerging research to select their own route to part 2 through their in-house health concierge team and expert 1-1 support, whenever they need.
What is it about MPowder supplements that make them different to other brands that address perimenopause and menopause symptoms?
Our hormones are incredible. They impact every single cell in our body, but this also means there is no ‘silver bullet’ for menopause! MPowder is unique in that we are a community as well as a product range. Every purchase comes with free 1:1 health concierge support whenever you need, a free symptom tracking service and personalised Meno.Well plan and Meno.Well masterclass programmes that take place every month. Our community also drives all that we do. From verifying the efficacy of our products with regular product impact studies to sharing the symptoms they want us to focus on next, we’re reframing what midlife means and how it is experienced, together.
How did your own experiences with the menopause help to shape MPowder?
I had a really bumpy perimenopause journey. I was 45 when it hit and the most distressing thing was the impact it had on my confidence. As I felt myself less and less capable, I worked harder and harder. Anxiety had me waking at 5am to prepare for meetings I used to participate in with ease. I couldn’t think on my feet; I couldn’t articulate my ideas; I was bloated; my skin changed and my hair started to fall out. Like many in our community, I was told by my doctor that I was too young to be perimenopausal and more likely to be depressed – but I knew myself well enough to know that something else was happening and that, if I didn’t take time to address it, I would make myself very unwell.
I’m a researcher and planner by trade, so I did what I do best! I started researching! I learned that most of us start our perimenopause transition from around the age of 43 (and for around 10% of us, it is even earlier). I read about the myriad symptoms connected to this life stage and how long it takes women to receive support. I looked at the research that exists around the lifestyle changes, medical interventions and mindset shifts that can help us ‘meno-well’.
Then I headed to my local health food store to see what supplements were available. The shelves were confusing AND depressing. The women depicted were frail, tired – and always hot! They didn’t seem to target midlife. The blends felt like blunt instruments at best – few catered for the distinct bio-chemical stages our bodies go through. At the time of my search I could find just one brand targeting the perimenopause specifically. Many use herbal components that clinical trials had shown categorically not to work. Others use such low dosages of vitamins and minerals that they are unlikely to achieve the results seen in trials. Most relied heavily on synthetic low grade sources that the body simply doesn’t absorb well.
I wanted a solution that was focused on optimising my body. I wanted products that were based on clinical insight, to see the results of trials with real women from all walks of life, and I wanted honesty rather than over-promise.
I started in early 2019 in my kitchen, dehydrating fruit and vegetables and blending them into a powder that would deliver the nutritional hit my body needed. I started to layer on the lifestyle changes I knew were gaining traction and scientific support – and I began to feel better. I worked with a medical and naturopathic team to get recipes into community trials. I consulted on the value of HRT and how smart supplementation can make it work harder. I collaborated with menopause experts across multiple complimentary fields too. From CBT to CBD, from breathwork practitioners to executive career coaches – and slowly MPowder took shape.
Can you tell us a little about your supplements and what they offer?
Our best-selling foundational formulations, Peri-Boost and Meno-Boost contain a complex blend of whole foods, herbs, botanicals, vitamins and minerals to support the body and mind from perimenopause to menopause and beyond. With 29+ ingredients in every scoop, I’m proud to say they are phenomenally difficult to make! We work with our partners to carefully source every ingredient and blend at therapeutic dosage levels to deliver the results seen in lab.
Mood Food and Gut Instinct address what we call cluster symptoms and are the result of over three years of research in our community. We have thousands of menopausal journeys now captured through our free symptom tracking service – and we discovered that certain symptoms consistently appear together, and persist right across our transitions from peri to post menopause if not addressed. These powdered capsules have had amazing results in our product impact studies – and rave reviews.
Do you think it is still difficult for women to get the advice and support they need surrounding the menopause?
We’re lucky in the UK in that the conversation about menopause has become louder. In the last two years we’ve seen debate in government, changes in the workplace and also changes to the secondary school curriculum. More doctors are electing to receive additional training on the ‘Lifestage’ too; but in terms of individual impact and lived experience, according to think-tank Gen-M, 65% of us still feel blindsided by the ‘Lifestage’. As worrying as the lack of support and education is, the impact it has on our sense of self is high and 41% of us report feeling invisible and unattractive.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to women going into the perimenopause stage in their life?
Start by looking at how you digest stress. Our bodies want to be in balance. They’ll be working hard to support us as our sex hormone production declines, and, if we’re also exposed to external stressors, their job is much harder. Then, focus on nourishing your gut microbiota – the right food and the right botanicals can all make a big difference. Remember, this life stage is a stepping up point, not a fading away! We become more purpose driven, and the grey matter in our brains actually grows (we have to have somewhere to store all that wisdom, right?!) Also have greater empathy, which the world needs more than ever right now, too. This is good change!
What are the most frequents issues that women seek advice for surrounding this time of life?
Anxiety, brain fog and low energy levels tend to be the first things that hit us. Then we often find that things we used to do to manage weight and to feel nourished, no longer work. We may need to rethink a number of practices to feel well.
What would you say to midlife and beyond women who begin to feel invisible and less confident as they age?
As a result of having the privilege of witnessing the transition of thousands of women in our community, I can say with confidence that Part 2 is your time to shine. You’ve earned the right to push yourself up the priority list. You’ve acquired wisdom that the world wants to hear. You have the tools around you to feel stronger, fitter and happier than at any other point in your life. Be curious. Try new things. Advocate for your health. Work out what works for you. Then choose joy.
Can you share with us some of your top tips for a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing during this stage in life?
I’m 50 and what works now is different from the practices that helped my perimenopause journey. I’ve been meditating each morning for about six years. Just 10 minutes on the bathroom floor (the only place where no one disturbs me!) helps me check in on my body and mind before the day begins. I keep a gratitude journal too – again, it’s a really small time commitment but it has had a profound impact on my mental health. I make sure I move every day and have introduced weights into my routine to mitigate bone density decline. It makes me feel invincible too! But the biggest change for me was rethinking what I was putting on my plate. We now know that menopause has a profound impact on our gut microbiota. Learning how to eat to balance my hormones and the botanicals that can further support has been transformational.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I’m blown away by the generosity of spirit of women every day. From the founders that share their lessons without ego, those building businesses differently – with empathy and inclusion at their heart – to the members of our community carrying enormous loads yet still finding time to share a tip or reach out to someone struggling. Females rock!
Hardest challenge you’ve had to face?
Working through excruciating imposter syndrome to build the MPowder community.
Accomplishment you are most proud of?
Launching our formulations without compromising – and effectively ignoring the rules that govern the supplement industry.
Top beauty ‘must have’ in your makeup bag?
I love Studio10’s Plumping Blush Glow-plexion. And I always have cuticle oil to hand!
And finally, your favourite quote to live by?
“The difference between hope and despair is a good night’s sleep.”