Hot flushes, erratic mood swings, fluctuating hormones and weight gain are just some of the symptoms of menopause, the time of life that many women dread!
One way of ensuring that this wonderful change in a woman’s life passes you relatively unscathed is to eat right and support your body and hormones as it goes through these amazing changes.
Getting your nutrition right can make a huge difference, and if you are not exposed to too many xenoestrogens and toxins can probably help irradiate or lessen many common menopausal symptoms.
After all your hormones are made from food components so if you are feeding your bodies the right kind of foods your hormones will have a most stable and balance environment in which to work their magic!
Hormonal fluctuation and mood swings are made worse by changes in blood sugar so keeping your levels stable is key.
Look for foods that have a low glycemic index or low glycemic load. Many of the starchy foods we eat a lot of, including most bread, most breakfast cereals, and baked potatoes foods produce the highest glycemic response.
Choose Low glycemic foods such as beans, barley, oats, and some wholegrain rice.
But don’t be tempted to eliminate all carbohydrate or follow very low carbohydrate diets as these can affect your mood and leave you feeling low, just ensure that the majority of your carbohydrate intake is from fruits and vegetable’s.
Fill up on vegetables, particularly cruciferous veg such as broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts as these help detoxify the liver which as a vital pathway for your hormones you want working optimally.
Aim to get 10 portions of fruit and veg a day! (5 a day is so last year!)
Lower levels of estrogen are one of the main causes of your symptoms so adding phytoestrogens to your diet will help.
These plant based foods have an estrogenic like effect on the body and can help prevent osteoporosis and relieve symptoms.
Go for legumes, soya beans, chickpeas, lentils, flaxseeds, sesame and sunflower seeds, rice, oats, broccoli, carrots, and sprouted beans (mung and alfalfa)
During menopause the body loses its natural lubrication as estrogen levels decline, this can affect the joints and lead to uncomfortable vaginal dryness.
To combat this you can increase your intake of anti inflammatory omega fats by including foods such as Dark green leafy veggies and avocados. Oily fish especially herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, tuna, wild salmon. Nuts & seeds (all bar peanuts), including brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Extra virgin olive oil, avocado and coconut oil
My absolute favourite fat has to be coconut oil, which boasts extensive health benefits including increased metabolism, energy, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion, bone strength and more… It is the perfect cooking oil that works great at high temperatures. We tell every BABE to get some in their store cupboard!!!
Taking a good omega 3 supplement can be very beneficial and can help with other factors such as positive moods and increased metabolism. (If you are a BABE ask us about Eskimo-3 from Nutri)
Most women don’t eat enough protein, try adding a portion to your meals, it doesn’t all have to come from meat. Patrick Holford recommends two vegetable proteins (legumes, nuts & lentils) and 1 animal protein a day.
Protein contains amino acids important for building and repairing muscle it balances the blood sugar and having a portion at each meal will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Aim to have a lean form of protein with every meal so fish, poultry, eggs, some red meats and game (a good rule of thumb here is the fewer legs the leaner the protein i.e., Fish and eggs are legless and the leanest forms, poultry is next (duck does tend to be fattier than other birds) and finally pork, beef and lamb which are higher in saturated fats.
Soya is a controversial one, soy’s high phytoestrogen content has made it a popular choice for women looking to reduce menopausal symptoms naturally, however there is a lot of conflicting research out there. I would advise that you most definitely steer clear of processed soya products that have risen from a whole industry keen to cash in on the positive research.
Items such as Soya milk, yoghurt, protein shakes, tofu, etc are best avoided but fermented soy products such as miso, Tempah, Natto, tamari/soy sauce, fermented tofu may help.
Staying hydrated is vital to help the transportation and communication of your hormones, so aim to drink you 8 glasses of water a day. Fruit and veg have a high water content so you will be getting a lot from there but adding more through drinking filtered water, herbal teas (try liquorice tea)
With out a doubt there are certain foods that exasperate menopausal symptoms and two of the biggest culprits are caffeine and alcohol.
Both increase hormonal fluctuation and can cause hot flushes.
If you are suffering from hot flashes during the day then eliminating hot drinks, especially caffeine can help. Try changing your daily ritual from coffee or tea to a large glass of filtered water and a slice of lemon or cucumber. Herbal teas are great and most taste just as nice cold as they do hot.
Withdrawing from caffeine will also reduce anxiety and insomnia.
If you really cannot completely cut that cuppa out make sure you keep your caffeine fix pre midday and choose an organic brand. Coffee is highly sprayed with chemicals such as herbisides and pesticides designed for KILLING animals.
Being caffeine free will also increase calcium absorption which is more vital than ever now for bone health as your protective estrogen levels are dropping leaving you with less protection against bone mineral loss, hence the increased risk of osteoporosis during the menopause.
Alcohol upsets the blood sugar balance causing the same fluctuations as sugar (because that’s what alcohol is!) . As with caffeine, alcohol also inhibits the absorption of essential nutrients particularly magnesium, zinc and B vitamins, good levels of these are vital during this time.
Alcohol can also cause hot flushes as it dilates the blood vessels.
Sugar should be eliminated as much as possible as again it will unbalance your blood sugar, effect your moods and can lead to Candida, an excessive growth of yeast in the gut that feeds on sugar, leaving you feeling unwell and craving more sugar.
Artificial sweeteners have been shown to confuse the body, aggravating blood sugar fluctuations leading to hot flushes so if you are a fan of diet products or live on diet sodas and colas now is the time to liberate yourself and get rid of these false foods.
Keep away from processed foods as they have high levels of salt, additives, preservatives all of which will upset the balance of your hormones. Salt should be avoided as it will promote fluid retention (sore breasts) and can increase blood pressure.
Watch out for bottled water, do not use or store water in plastic bottles. If you have to use plastic bottles try not to leave them in direct sunlight as there are high levels of xenoestrogens in tap and bottled water.
There are now so many man made oestrogens, known as xenoestrogens that enter the body through plastics, especially water bottles, birth control pills and poor-quality meat that confuse the body and have an extremely ill effect on the endocrine system.
Avoid nonorganic meat and diary – all meat including chicken, turkey, lamb, red meat and pork. These animals are feed fed that contains estrogen hormones which are held in the body then passed through to you on your dinner plate. Try to opt for organic produce and avoid food packed in plastic.
I would advise giving dairy a miss, these days as the cows are kept in such unhealthy conditions most dairy products tend to be laced with the antibiotics that are fed to the animals to try and stop them getting sick, as well as synthetic hormones to fatten them up.
Almond, rice and coconut milk are perfect non dairy milk alternatives. Avoid soya milk.
There are much better, richer and more easily absorbed forms of calcium than milk.
Choose sardines, whitebait and soft fish bones, such as those in a tin of salmon. There are also good levels in pak choy, kale, broccoli, pulses, soya beans, almonds and sesame seeds.
So here’s a general guideline to eating your way to a happier more balanced menopause.
To keep the blood sugars stable choose a high fibre, whole food diet composed of foods with a low glycemic index/load.
Limit starchy carbs to a few bites per meal.
Organic fruits, veggies.
Organic (or at least free range ) lean meat
Fish especially the oily ones herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, tuna, wild salmon.
Eggs all types
Plenty of good fats, avocado, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Phytoestrogens chickpeas and lentils are easy to add to salads, stir fry’s, curries and soups.
Lots of water
Processed forms of Soya, milk, yoghurt as well as vegetarian alternatives such as quorn.
Non organic meats
Tap or cheap bottled water (Evian is the best)