The menopause is a natural process caused by falling levels of oestrogen and progesterone. The ovaries normally produce the sex hormones oestrogens (of which there are three) and progesterone. The menopause is said to have happened when one year has elapsed without seeing a period. This generally occurs around 50, but the age of onset of menopause runs quite strongly in the family, so when your mother went through the menopause will give you a clue about yours.
Menopausal symptoms of flushing and sweating can be related to hypoglycaemia, (low blood sugar) which is also a major cause of disturbed sleep and that makes everything worse!
If your blood sugar drops, your body releases adrenaline – a stress hormone and this causes a surge of energy to release sugar from the liver.
Menopause Diet: Plenty of fruit and vegetables
• Soluble fibre (found in root veg, fruit, oats and beans and pulses)
• Insoluble fibre found in nuts, grains and seeds, such as rice, quinoa)
• Phytoestrogens (these are plant that have oestrogenic qualities and can support unbalanced oestrogens)
• Flaxseed (linseed) – crushed is best. Add 1 – 2 dessert spoons to smoothies, yoghurt etc.
• Other seeds especially chai, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, caraway and sunflower;
• herbs and spices such as cinnamon, sage, fennel and parsley.
• Essential fats including oily fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed olive oil and cold pressed flax oil and avocados
• Pomegranates and berries
Hormone free meat and dairy
• Organic grass fed meat
• Wild fish (salmon, atlantic cod, wild mackerel)
• organic dairy – cows are in a hormonal state so don’t overdo dairy
Herbs (seek a qualified herbalist)
• Some women have found that taking natural herbal supplements like red clover, black cohosh and dong quai can also give relief from hot flushes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms. Red clover and Black Cohosh are significant phyto-oestrogen herbs that women have safely used for centuries to help balance hormones.
• Agnus Castus is very good for balancing hormones.
These are aggravated by sugar, alcohol, and caffeine (including chocolate) so reducing these and swapping for herbal teas, fresh fruit and sparkling water with lime will help.
The greatest worry when using replacement synthetic hormones such as HRT is the long term risk of cancer. A natural substance indole-3-carbinol found in cabbage and all brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower) can support liver pathways to reduce recirculation of hormones. So eat up your cabbage and broccoli and supplement with IC3
Vitamin C – to sustain collagen in the skin – found in berries, citrus, peppers and tomatoes (or collagen supplement)
Vitamin E – Reduces hot flushes, helps vaginal dryness – found in nuts and seeds and avocados
B Vitamins (especially B6) – the stress vitamins help support adrenal glands – found in beans, meat and grains
Magnesium – nature’s tranquiliser, and if combined with other bone minerals, such as vitamin D is helpful for osteoporosis – found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and beans. Most people will need to supplement 400 mg per day.
Vitamin D3 which moves calcium into the bones (sunshine or supplement)
Foods and drinks to reduce to prevent osteoporosis
Fizzy drinks – as these contain phosphorus which interferes with calcium absorption.
Alcohol – depletes vital minerals such as calcium and magnesium, increases blood sugar imbalance and increases hot flushes. Alcohol also increases the work load of the liver which means it is less efficient at detoxifying unwanted hormones
Excess Dairy foods –Too much calcium and not enough magnesium and Vitamin D can lead to calcium loss from the bones as the bone minerals try to balance the levels of calcium in the blood..
Wheatbran – can bind to certain minerals or cause digestive disorders that interfere with absorption
Bone Friendly Food sources
Calcium – sesame seeds, almonds, tinned salmon (including the bones), green leafy vegetables (except spinach), soya, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, dairy in moderation (such as yoghurt).
Magnesium – nuts, seeds, wholegrains, green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C – cauliflower, citrus fruits, berries, peppers, kiwis, green leafy vegetables.
Zinc – pumpkin seeds, fish, eggs, peas and beans, wholegrains.
Vitamin D – oily fish, eggs in limited amounts, most from sunlight on the skin
Boron – cabbage, alfalfa, green vegetables, fruits, nuts, peas and beans.
Folate – green leafy vegetables
Beneficial bacteria – live organic yoghurt, kefir
Vitamin K – cabbage, alfalfa and green leafy vegetables plus grass fed meat.
Vaginal Dryness A very good natural organic product is YesYes available in water based formula or oil based formula.
Sleep Insomnia is a common problem with the menopause. Avoiding stimulants, especially sugar, alcohol and caffeine will help reduce adrenaline levels which can contribute to night time waking and sweats. A small carbohydrate snack at bedtime such as a banana on oatcake can prevent blood sugar dipping throughout the night. Keep the bedroom ventilated and cool and wear light cotton clothing. Supplements such as 5htp, magnesium and melatonin can help
Once the ovaries stop working small amounts of hormones such as oestrone are produced from the adrenal glands. If there is a lot of stress, then more cortisol will be produced and less hormones. This can be particularly disturbing during the menopause when moods can become unbalanced.
Exercise is very important in preventing osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise such as aerobics, tennis, gym work and brisk walking (plus carrying shopping!) strengthens bones. Weight bearing exercise and strength training along with a daily dose of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D (supplement in the winter months) are the most effective methods of fighting bone density loss.
Stretching is also important and I recommend yoga. There are lots of free sessions on YouTube. Building up to power yoga allows you to combine stretching and bone health
A full hormone profile offered by private laboratories can be very useful for ascertaining hormone levels and detoxification as well as potential cancer risk
Find out more www.whatseatingyou.co.uk