Don't let hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, and low libido, among other not-so-attractive symptoms of menopause, be the norm. It was once believed that the only solution was the ever-controversial hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, some women may find relief by following a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Food synergy is when all of a particular food’s nutrients and phytochemicals work together for the benefit of its consumer, you! Therefore, a vitamin or mineral tablet may not work as effectively, because the environment in which it thrives is altered. While specific nutrients are listed below, keep in mind that it's best to consume them as part of their natural, whole-food package.
These are estrogen-like compounds that may mimic the body’s natural sex hormone. During menopause, estrogen levels decline. By introducing this plant-based imitator, symptoms of hormone imbalance may subside. Phytoestrogens are found in:
• Organic, non-GMO soybeans – Stay clear of isolated or concentrated soy proteins often found in processed energy bars or supplements. Choose whole foods such as edamame, organic tofu, miso, or organic fermented tempeh.
• Flaxseed – Lignans are the estrogen-like ingredient found in flaxseed. Remember to grind up the flaxseed in order to release the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and oils.
• Red clover tea – this sweet herb helps regulate estrogen. In addition to decreasing symptoms of menopause, it also has been shown to purify the blood, reduce osteoporosis, clear up skin conditions, relieve respiratory distress, and improve heart health.
• Lentils, seaweed, squash, asparagus – These vegetables and legumes contain tiny amounts of phytoestrogens.
Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin K
We’ve all heard that calcium helps build strong bones, but we are seeing more and more weight fall on other vitamins and minerals for bone health. Vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K have also shown to be vital to keep your body’s frame sturdy well into your prime.
• Calcium – broccoli, kale, spinach, fortified milk alternatives
• Vitamin D – sunshine, mushrooms, fish
• Magnesium – pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, soybeans, almonds
• Vitamin K – kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli
Although results are varied, vitamin E may help alleviate or reduce severity of hot flashes. Vitamin E rich foods include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, papaya, and asparagus.
Another vitamin instilling hope to women and their husbands all around the world to help with menopausal symptoms is vitamin C. Some studies suggest that a combination of flavonoids and vitamin C was found to relieve hot flashes. Flavonoids are found in citrus fruits, which are also wonderful sources of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Black cohosh has been shown to regulate estrogen deficiency and excess, helping create hormonal balance in menopausal women. It has been shown to alleviate common symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, disturbed sleep, nervousness, depression, and irritability.
Milk thistle will help with “symptoms of excess” like headaches, bloating or breast tenderness. This herb protects the liver, thereby helping to break down any toxins that may be the cause of these discomforts.
St. John’s Wort may help alleviate depression and it’s sidekicks fatigue and/or anxiety brought about with menopause. This herb as been shown to be safe and gentle and may be as effective as some prescription antidepressants. Kava is another herb sometimes suggested by alternative health practitioners to help relieve anxiety and depression.
Ginkgo biloba has long been used to increase blood circulation. This also includes blood flow to the brain, which may help alleviate the “brain-fog” that some women experience during this time.
You can’t suggest lifestyle modifications without mentioning movement. Physical activity is absolutely mandatory when it comes to keeping a balanced body. It not only helps improve your mood and ability to manage your weight, but it helps preserve bone and lean body mass (muscle) while reducing the incidence of hot flashes.