Menopause Diet and Lifestyle - Lucy Barrett

Menopause Diet & Lifestyle

Menopause is a natural and necessary stage of a women's life. Natural medicine aims to work with the body to ease this transition without blanketing symptoms or putting off the inevitable.

Menopause occurs due to a decline in 3 main hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

It may surprise you to learn that menopausal symptoms are far worse in the western industrialised world. We tend to suffer more. The reason for this? One reason is our chronic stress levels and the impact this has on our adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands make several important hormones, one of these is DHEA and this is a precursor hormone that can be transformed into other steroid hormones like oestrogen and testosterone. So, healthy adrenals = easier menopause change. Another major reason we suffer is due to our toxic world. The focus here is on the liver. Our liver gets upset by fluctuations in hormone levels and with the levels of chemicals in our skin products, makeup, air, water & food alongside smoking, alcohol and medications, our liver has a lot to deal with! So the higher your toxic load, the worse your menopause symptoms will be.

These tips will help to aid the transition into menopausewith minimal discomfort. There are also many natural medicines available to address specific needs for each woman. Talk more with your health practitioner about this. You don’t have to suffer and there are always answers.

DIET

Key Nutrients to Include in diet: Calcium, D, K2 & Iron

Common foods high in these nutrients are:

·       Unhulled (dark) tahini paste       

·       Fermented dairy products (yoghurt, kefir)

·       Leafy green vegetables: brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, brocolli, kale, rocket, chinese cabbage, watercress, bok choy

·       Sardines (with bones)

·       Dried figs, dates and sulfur-free apricots

·       Soy beans, white beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, kidney beans

·       Grass fed and organic red meats (no more than 3x weekly)

·       Sunlight-exposed mushrooms

·       Fish – smaller, white fish is best. Avoid tuna, shark, flake, marlin, swordfish due to heavy metal contamination

Functional foods are foods that contain specific phytochemicals or constituents that are biologically active. Functional foods helpful in menopause are:

·       All vegetables. Eating a high plant-based diet means more phytoestrogens. These plant oestrogens help to modulate the bodies oestrogen levels and naturally support the body as the oestrogen level begins to naturally decline. 60% of your diet should be plant-based (vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds)

·       Flaxseed meal. Add to smoothies, breakfast, baking (good egg replacer), sprinkle on veggies etc. Crushed flax/linseed contains a chemical compound called lignans, omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre and antioxidants. Lignans are biologically active polyphenols that support healthy oestrogen levels.

·       Fermented soy. Soy is another healthy option to increase isoflavones – a type of phytoestrogen. Include miso paste, tempeh, tofu, Australian non-GMO soy milks, tamari sauce

AVOID:

·       High sugar foods and processed foods such as pastries, biscuits, cakes, snack foods, processed breads, pastas and most packaged foods.

·       Alcohol, coffee, chocolate. Particularly if suffering with hot flushes or heat at night.

LIFESTYLE

·       Get moving and sweating. Sedentary women have more hot flushes than those who are more active, not to mention better weight management, circulation, healthy bowel movements and gentle detoxification.

·       Get outside into the sun. Vitamin D and sunshine both help with stabilising mood and importantly with calcium maintenance for bone health into the menopause stage. Supplementation may be needed, but always ask your health practitioner for advice with this.

·       Get loose and free. Emotion management and making stress-free activities part of your lifestyle is integral to a healthy menopause. Many women keep pushing on with busy lives during this stage, while biologically it is a time to include more quiet reflection and self-care time. Regular massage, salt baths, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, inspirational reading and craft projects can be a great way to thank your body for getting you this far and fostering peace and self love as you enter this change in your life.