The menopause is a time of change and your female hormones are going to be fluctuating up and down as you go through this stage until you come out the other side and into the postmenopause, when your hormones will stabilise. The more gradually you go through the menopause, the less hormone fluctuations you experience and the easier the transition.
The food you eat should help your body to adjust easily and comfortably to the hormonal changes you are undergoing and help smooth your menopause journey. Your diet can have a big impact, nourishing your body and helping control and eliminate unwanted menopause symptoms along the way.
Here are my top ten tips that you can use easily in your everyday life:
1. Include hormone-balancing phytoestrogens in your diet
Phytoestrogens are plant foods that can have a hormone balancing effect on your body. They include beans such as lentils, chickpeas and soya products. Use soya milk on your cereal and in cooking (buy organic soya milk and avoid those containing isolates see my book Natural Solutions to the Menopause for information on good and bad soya), have hummus and also lentil soups to include more phytoestrogens in your diet.
2. Eat more Omega 3 fatty acids
Found in flaxseeds, oily fish and eggs, Omega 3 essential fats help to lubricate your body from the inside out so are beneficial for dry skin, vaginal dryness, painful joints, high cholesterol and a sluggish metabolism. Many women are deficient in Omega 3s and have too much Omega 6, to find out if you have the correct balance there is a simple home finger prick test at http://www.naturalhealthpractice.com/Omega_3_Finger_Prick_Deficie_P1980C338.cfm
3. Stabilise your blood sugar
During the menopause it is more crucial than ever that you keep your blood sugar stable. As your ovaries produce less oestrogen, your adrenal glands will take over, pumping out an alternative form of oestrogen for your body. If you are on a blood-sugar rollercoaster, your adrenal glands will have to work harder, tiring them out from their crucial work. Change from refined carbohydrates like white bread and white pasta to unrefined ones like wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta, use rye and oats as well to ring the changes.
4. Boost natural fibre
Have a good intake of natural fibre from fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. As well as the well-known beneficial effect on your bowels, fibre helps keep your blood sugar levels stable. Fibre also is important for efficient detoxification, as it helps your body to eliminate excess oestrogen and other waste products.
5. Eliminate refined sugar either on its own or added to food
Sugar is just empty calories and carries no nutritional value. The impact of refined sugar on your health is enormous because it creates a domino effect on many organs, glands and systems in your body. Some of the symptoms associated with the effects of sugar are:
- Mood swings – irritability, crying spells, aggressive outbursts
- Anxiety and tension
- Inability to concentrate
- Weight gain – especially around the middle
- Lack of sex drive
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid problems
- Type 2 diabetes
- Feeling more stressed
Many of these symptoms, which you might think are due to the menopause, really have nothing to do with it – they are caused by the effects of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates on your body and your health.
Use natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables and if you need to use sweeteners try maple syrup, stevia or xylitol.
6. Eliminate Caffeine
Caffeine is found in both food and drink, and primarily in chocolate, caffeinated soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee and tea (black, green and white). The problem with caffeine as you go through the menopause is that it can make your symptoms worse. Caffeine is a stimulant and so activates your adrenal (stress) glands and as your adrenal glands are going to produce a form of oestrogen to help protect your bones as you go through the menopause, you do not want to overwork them. Caffeinated drinks will add to blood sugar problems but also act as diuretics depriving your body of vital nutrients and trace elements
So try herbs teas like chamomile, peppermint and also grain coffees. If you need some caffeine then go for green tea which has a beneficial effect on metabolism and also contains good levels of antioxidants.
7. Reduce your intake of alcohol
As you go through the menopause your body is going through a hormonal transition and the overall aim is to make this as smooth as possible. The organ that deals with the detoxification of hormones is your liver, so you do not want to put an extra burden on this organ at any stage.
Alcohol is a diuretic which makes you pass more urine more frequently and can leave you feeling dehydrated. It also acts as an anti-nutrient and blocks the effect of valuable nutrients like the B vitamins, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
Have some alcohol-free days in the week and reduce your intake by having white wine spritzers. And also you could have sparkling grape or apple juice instead.
8. Avoid soft fizzy drinks
They contain high levels of phosphorus and increase the risk of osteoporosis by increasing urinary calcium excretion. Change to diluted pure fruit juices or if you want a ‘fizzy’ drink then have sparkling water or a sparkling juice.
9. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners, found in many products labelled ‘no sugar’, ‘low sugar’ or even ‘diet’, can give you mood swings and depression and cause weight gain. When you think that many women who use artificial sweeteners are using them to help control their weight, it’s ironic that they may be causing more problems than they’re solving. The problem is the effect artificial sweeteners have on the body. When you taste something sweet, your body expects a certain amount of calories to accompany that food – but because the artificial sweeteners don’t contain any calories, your body can crave more sugary carbohydrate-type foods to provide the ‘missing’ calories. So use natural sweeteners instead like maple syrup, stevia or agave.
10.Spicy And Hot Foods
Some women find that eating spicy food makes their hot flushes much worse. When you eat spicy food your core body temperature goes up, and you start sweating. This is exactly what happens with hot flushes. You can still include spicy food in your menopause diet in small servings — just be aware of the effect it is having on your body. If hot flushes are a real problem for you, you might also want to avoid foods that are hot in temperature and order a salad rather than soup for a starter, for example. Snacking on refrigerated veggies and fruits or sipping on chilled water can also help.