Five foods to help those in menopause
Q: I think I’m entering menopause and I’m interested in foods that support this transition – what would be your top five foods for me to include? Thanks, Heather.
A: Menopause ‘begins’ when you haven’t menstruated for 12 months. This is where women tend to experience an increase in unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, interrupted sleep, mood change and fatigue to name a few. For some this is mild, while for others, these symptoms are debilitating.
To best support your body during this time, it’s important to embrace a calming breath-focused practice and nourish yourself with plenty of real wholefoods, minimise or avoid alcohol and to deal with emotions as they arise. It’s also important to maintain good adrenal health, as this is now the sole source of your progesterone production.
Progesterone acts as a powerful anti-anxiety agent, an anti-depressant and a diuretic, meaning it allows us to get rid of excess fluid, so optimal levels are critical for our health and wellness. Here are some wonderful foods to include:
RAW NUTS AND SEEDS
These are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E and zinc. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin, they are also very satiating and can help to regulate blood glucose levels. Some seeds contain lignans, which help support healthy estrogen metabolism, essential across the menopausal years.
This is packed full of antioxidants and while it does contain caffeine, the effect is buffered by the amino acid, l-theanine. Green tea has been shown to support cardiovascular health, help reduce the risk of certain cancers and assist with concentration.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES (BROCCOLI, CABBAGE, CAULIFLOWER AND KALE)
These powerhouse vegetables support our liver and estrogen metabolism. They also contain sulforaphane, an antioxidant and stimulator of natural detoxifying enzymes. Sulforaphane may help reduce the risk of breast and bladder cancers.
OILY FISH SUCH AS SALMON OR FLAXSEEDS
These are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are protective for heart health due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
They’re also wonderful for skin health as they help to keep skin moisturised, which can have a tendency to dryness, during menopause.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Consuming olive oil improves some of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, it helps improve your bloodcholesterol profile, it also helps reduce the formation of blood clots and it can assist in bloodglucose control, important in the prevention of type-2 diabetes.
Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. Visit drlibby.com.
Green tea has been shown to support cardiovascular health, help reduce the risk of certain cancers and assist with concentration.