As with most health issues, they can be multifactorial and sometimes take a while to get to grips with. This is certainly true when talking about menopause.
With over 30 possible symptoms associated with menopause, finding hormonal harmony in this often-difficult life stage, can sometimes be tough. However, a change of diet can be very powerful and effective.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five foods than might help to bring hormonal harmony into your life.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, then hopefully lentils will already feature in your diet. They are an amazing source of plant protein and can easily be incorporated into many dishes.
Importantly, lentils are a rich source of phytoestrogens, plant foods that naturally contain properties that help balance oestrogen levels. Phytoestrogens are chemically similar to the hormone oestrogen, hence their effectiveness. Oestrogen levels naturally fall as women approach menopause and beyond, and it’s this issue that takes most of the responsibility for many of the associated symptoms.
If you’ve not used lentils before, then why not make some delicious and filling lentil soup, which is great for colder days. Importantly the protein content of lentils will keep you feeling satiated for much longer than a purely carbohydrate-based meal.
Also referred to as linseeds, flaxseeds tend to be the ground version which are great to eat during menopause. Why? Flaxseeds are especially rich in lignans which also have phytoestrogenic properties.
Additionally, flaxseeds are rich in the essential omega-3 fats which become even more essential during this life phase. Therefore, flaxseeds are great for hormone balance, can help reduce hot flushes and are very supportive of brain health; brain fog can be especially troublesome for women during this time. Sprinkle some flaxseeds on your cereal, natural yoghurts or put into a smoothie every day, for best effect.
Oily fish which includes salmon, sardines and mackerel are a great source of those all-essential omega-3s. However, it’s oily fish with bones, particularly sardines, that also provide a good source of vitamin D, very much needed for the menopause years. Levels of vitamin D really drop in the UK population during the winter months causing low mood, amongst other problems.
Production of vitamin D is related to the neurotransmitter serotonin, our happy hormone, and a big issue for many women going through menopause is low mood and anxiety. It follows, therefore, that having more vitamin D in the diet is really important for women’s hormonal health, not to mention for the bones and teeth. However, it’s not possible to get sufficient vitamin D just from oily fish alone during the winter months, so supplementation is essential.
Broccoli is a member of the wonderful family of cruciferous vegetables which provide a myriad of health benefits, too long to mention them all.
However, for women struggling with menopause, broccoli can really come into its own. Broccoli (and all cruciferous vegetables) can play a major role in the body’s detoxification processes, including of oestrogen. This is important because the body needs to eliminate ‘old ‘oestrogens at the end of each cycle so toxins don’t build in the body and cause more symptoms.
Broccoli is also very effective at helping the liver to detoxify. This is hugely important during menopause, as the body needs to expel oestrogens from the environment, known as xenoestrogens, that can cause even more imbalance and severe hormonal disruption.
Enjoy some broccoli (plus cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale) as often as possible.
As with all aspects of our health, the digestive system features at every level. If digestion is not working correctly, then nothing else will. This is especially true when talking about hormonal issues. Constipation can be a major problem during menopause, hence digestive health is key.
Natural yoghurt is rich in probiotics, those all-important friendly bacteria that live within us and fulfil many different functions, including bowel regularity. They are fed by vegetables which are known as prebiotics. Another great reason for eating lots of broccoli!
Natural yoghurt is great for breakfast or with some fruit after a meal. Make sure you choose live yoghurt and especially those varieties without sugar or sweeteners.
Changing your diet is one of the first steps in addressing menopause misery and it can make a real difference to symptoms.
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