Eating your way around menopausal symptoms

Fuelling Your Body

Sunday, December 02, 2018

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IF you are a conscious adult living on the planet earth there is a very strong likelihood that you or someone you know will be, or is, menopausal.

Half of humanity will, at some point, experience menopause and, to some extent, it's associated features.

Menopause is a part of the human female's reproductive life thus, occurs when the ovaries no longer release eggs every month and eventually, menstruation stops (meno-pause). In the case of natural menopause, this typically happens between 40-something and 50-something years of age. There are other causes of menopause when it occurs before 40.

Because the ovaries are also responsible for oestrogen and progesterone production, in addition to the cessation of eggs being released, there are accompanying hormonal changes. These changes can result in some or all the following features:

•Fatigue;

•Hot flushes/hot flashes/night sweats;

•Disrupted sleep patterns;

•Change in sex drive;

•Headaches;

•Mood changes;

•Muscle and joint aches and pains;

•Bladder control issues;

•Vaginal dryness; and

•Elevated heart rate.

Other long-term health issues have also been tied to menopause, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, reduced skin elasticity, vision problems, and reduced strength and muscle tone.

Not all women experience these menopausal features, but many will and do experience some, or many, and the degree can be described as mild, moderate or severe.

Can diet help with menopause?

The short answer is yes. A study published in the journal Menopause showed that the biggest reduction in menopausal symptoms was seen in women who experienced weight loss (from as little as 10 pounds) on a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruits and grains.

The study looked at more than 17,000 women, not on hormone therapy, who were ages 50 to 79. Although the causes were not completely understood, the researchers believed that the loss of fat mass and perhaps the added fibre played an important role.

Foods to embrace

Additionally, there has been some evidence that foods rich in phytoestrogens — plant-based compounds which may mimic the oestrogen produced in our bodies — may alleviate or reduce the severity of symptoms. Foods known to be rich in phytoestrogens include:

•Tofu;

•Soy products, soy proteins;

•Rye bread;

•Olive oil;

•Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts;

•Hummus/chickpeas;

•Blueberries;

•Green tea;

•Avocado;

•Beans and lentils;

•Spices and herbs.

Fatty fishes, leafy greens, other anti-inflammatory foods such as nuts, fruits, berries, and tomatoes have also been reported to postpone the onset of menopausal symptoms.

Foods to avoid

Naturally, foods with inflammatory and weight-triggering effects should be avoided, including:

•Refined carbohydrates (flour products);

•Refined sugar (sweetened beverages, sweetened foods);

•Alcohols;

•Processed meats;

•Some artificial sweeteners;

•Fried foods;

•Saturated fats (typical fast foods, lard);

•Shortening;

•Trans fats (margarine, some creamers);

•Red meats.

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation, outdoor activities and properly thought-out exercises have also been useful. As usual, always speak with your physician.

Always remember, just because something seems to be a part of life for many doesn't mean it has to be a part of life for you. Ordinary behaviours reap ordinary results, so be extraordinary.

There are so many healthy options that there's no sane reason to risk, or worsen, suffering. As always with InteKai, choose Living Well, every time.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org.

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