Help for the Menopause – 8 Ways to Thrive
Health guru, Leslie Kenton called the menopause a “passage to power”. I like that description because it suggests a positive time of revaluation, redesigning and finding new purpose in life. With life expectancy now at an all time high, many women have 30 or more years of living to do after going through the menopause. All the more reason to get some menopause help and make the experience as positive as possible! Here are some nutrition related tips (plus a couple of non nutrition ones) to help you on your way to thriving in midlife, rather than simply surviving!
1. Include the following phytoestrogen rich foods in your diet; apples, cherries, plums, olives, tomatoes, coconuts, carrots, yams, celery, aubergines, peppers, wheat germ, brown rice, nuts, fennel and liquorice.
2. Eat milled flaxseeds daily as they contain lignans which are converted by gut microbes into substances similar in structure to oestrogen.
3. Take an oestrogen metabolism test to find out which type of oestrogen you are making. Oestrogen is broken down into different types of metabolites, some of which are beneficial (the 2 series) and others (the 16 series) are pro‐breast cancer. Check to see that you are not making too much of the harmful oestrogen. If you are, there are things you can do to stop this.
4. Protect your bones which are vulnerable to losing density at this time. See my article on osteoporosis here.
5. Book a one to one hormone supporting, personalised nutrition, diet and supplement programme, with me. This will be tailored to your particular needs. There is no “one size fits all” diet, it will be unique to your individual requirements.
6. Include plenty of whole soya foods in your diet, ideally once per day. Examples are tofu, tempeh, soya beans (edamame) or soya milk made from whole beans (it will state this on the packaging or you can ask the manufacturer). Tamari sauce could also be used as an accompaniment to stir fries and salad dressings and miso (available in powder to make a soup or stock with) is also beneficial.In Japan menopausal hot flushes are so rare that there is no traditional word in the Japanese language to describe them. Asian women have a generally low incidence of hormone‐related disorders and have one sixth the rate of breast cancer that we do in the West. This is attributed at least in part to the high soya content of their diet. Soya is rich in plant chemicals called isoflavones which act as weak oestrogens.
It’s very important to distinguish between the different types of soya available. Most of the negative press about soya relates to either raw soya or processed soya. Raw soya contains substances called protease inhibitors which block the digestion of protein but are destroyed by cooking and removed in the soaking fluid of fermented soya products such as tofu and during the making of soya milk. Other common vegetables, if eaten raw, also contain these substances.
Make sure you understand the difference between traditional whole soya foods such as those listed above and processed fractions of soya e.g. concentrates, isolates or single soya isoflavones in large amounts in supplements. Many processed food such as TVP (textured vegetable protein used to make mock meat products) and some baby foods, contain the isolate and this is far removed from the original soya bean, the traditional food of China and Japan.
7. Address causes of persistent stress in your life as stress has a known affect on hormone balance. For example, one of the stress hormones cortisol, produced by your adrenal glands interferes with the way progesterone is used by your body. So the more you can do to relax, in whatever way suits you, the better. The benefit is in switching off negative or anxious thoughts and even just ten minutes in the day makes a big difference to your body.
8. Exercise is also a good way of ridding the body of excess stress hormones. Any activity which encourages sweating is very beneficial since this will allow toxins to be expelled and will also give your glands a work out. Exercise also increases flow of blood and oxygen which can boost energy levels and metabolism. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of walking per day in one session or in two bursts of 15 minutes is very effective for weight loss and health in general. It has to be at a brisk enough pace to raise your heart rate and make you sweaty though! Ambling along won’t have the same effect.