Managing Menopause Symptoms
Oh, The Joys of Menopause
Menopause, that special time in a woman's life when everything changes, brings with it myriad interesting and challenging events. As she progresses from perimenopause, beginning in the 40s, through full menopause, which usually takes place at about age 52, a woman will experience various symptoms associated with the hormonal changes going on in her body.
Some women experience moodiness or depression, headaches that can morph into migraines, irritability, hot flashes and the complimentary night sweats, along with a variety of other symptoms. Whatever the symptoms, there is hope for help in dealing with them without resorting to medications.
What You Eat Determines How You Feel
We all know that what we eat often affects how we feel. Certain foods trigger emotional and physiological responses in our bodies ranging from allergic reactions to feeling relaxed (think chocolate). The same principle can be applied to the symptoms of menopause. By making some dietary changes, it is possible to address menopausal symptoms effectively and in the end create better health for yourself.
Getting An Estrogen Boost
During menopause the ovaries slow down and eventually stop producing estrogen, one of the sex hormones necessary for reproduction. Women taking HRT are getting doses of estrogen to slow the loss of estrogen in their bodies. The same thing can be done with food, although not as intensely as HRT. Phytoestrogens are a particular group of chemicals that are found in plants (fruits and vegetables) and they are very similar in structure to the estrogen produced in our bodies. By eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, it is possible to trick the body into thinking the estrogen levels are higher than they really are. The mineral boron is also found in fruit and veggies and this mineral increases the body's ability to hold onto estrogen. Not only that, it helps to keep bones strong by decreasing the amount of calcium excreted by our bodies every day.
Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that are good sources of boron and phytoestrogens: Fruits include plums and prunes, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, pears, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, red raspberries. Vegetables include asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli stems, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, soybeans, sweet potatoes, turnips, and wheat.
Beans to You
One of the most economical and nutritionally efficient foods available is the little powerhouse, beans. They offer so many benefits, from curbing the appetite through slowing absorption of glucose into the bloodstream to being an excellent source of fiber. They contain phytoestrogens and are great sources of vitamins, minerals, calcium, folic acid and vitamin B6. Best of all, they are a low-fat source of high quality protein.
There are a number of ways to incorporate beans into your diet. Most people only eat them in chili, but they make great accoutrements to salads and pasta dishes. Bean dips are always popular as a snack and they can be used in soups, stews, and fun Mexican recipes.
Eat the Right Fats for Health
While it is important to avoid a diet that is high in fat, especially saturated fat, the fact is that fat is a vitally necessary part of a good diet. However, it should be the right kind of fat in order to be useful for health. High-fat foods taste great but they're usually really high in calories and low in food value. A woman in menopause can do without that combination. By getting the right fats into the diet, a woman can help protect herself from heart diseases and cancer.
The best fats to eat are Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish, olive oil and canola oil. These oils can be included in the diet in a variety of ways. First of all, make the switch from saturated oils and fats to olive oil and canola oil for salads and cooking. Eat more fish and if you do eat meat, choose cuts that are very lean. Dairy that is low-fat or non-fat is also a good move. Remember that hydrogenated oil is artery clogging, so leave the packaged foods in the store, along with the stick margarine. If you use margarine, buy the tubs that list olive oil or canola oil as their first ingredient.
By making wise food choices it is possible to address symptoms of menopause effectively without using synthetic means.