How to sail through the menopause
Common symptoms of the menopause include hot flushes, mood swings, decreased libido, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and many more. These symptoms can be a huge challenge for many women and others apparently, sail through the menopause with few or no symptoms! How can these symptoms be helped with nutrition?
- Switching to a healthy diet really can help reduce these symptoms. Aim to give yourself the best nutrients possible with freshly prepared foods, eating five vegetables and two fruits daily.
- Optimise levels of vitamin D and get yourself tested. Low levels of the sunshine vitamin really affect mood and energy levels and may contribute to lowered immunity. There’s no point in supplementing unless you have a baseline level to start from.
- Reduce caffeine from coffee and tea (yes, black tea is high in caffeine!) and switch to relaxing chamomile tea, green tea and mint tea. Reduce or eliminate refined sugar, as this will exacerbate symptoms. Switch to honey or coconut palm sugar and obtain natural sweetness from fruits.
Include phytoestrogens in your diet from natural plant foods including ground flaxseed, soya (in moderate amounts), tofu, hummus, sesame seeds, lentils, miso. This will help to regulate your hormone levels during the menopause. In Asia, where the diet contains high amounts of tofu, miso, lentils and soy sauce, only 14% of menopausal women experience hot flushes. In the western world, hot flushes affect over 80% of menopausal women.
Ensure you are eating adequate amounts of Omega 3 in your diet from oily fish and flaxseed (highest amounts), avocados, free range eggs. Get your levels of Omega 3 and other fats tested, as an imbalance in essential fatty acids contributes to disease risk and menopausal symptoms. A simple blood spot test will identify levels of Omega 3, 6, 9, 12 and processed fats.
Reduce carbohydrates from refined white flour and switch to whole grain alternatives, short grain brown rice, millet and quinoa. Overeating carbohydrates contributes to weight gain, overproduction of cortisol and insulin sensitivity. Aim to eat slow energy release foods and adequate protein, to reduce carbohydrate and sugar cravings.
Make time to relax and exercise. The menopause can be a rewarding stage of new opportunities and strengths.
‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food' – Hippocrates.
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About Elizabeth Bray
Elizabeth Bray is a registered nutritional therapist and naturopath, passionate about effects of food on health. Offering consultations at body-balance nutrition clinic in Taunton, Somerset and Axminster, Devon, since 2006. Specialising in women's health, digestive problems, food intolerances, immunity, laboratory tests to assess symptoms & diet.