Around the ages of 45-55, a great deal is happening in a female body.
This can be a really tricky time in a woman’s life but, with the correct food and lifestyle choices, many women can help manage their symptoms.
During the transition to menopause and beyond, the hormone oestrogen begins to decline, disrupting your normal cyclical patterns of oestrogen and progesterone. Declining oestrogen levels negatively impact your metabolism, potentially leading to weight gain, your body’s ability to digest carbs and it may also affect your cholesterol levels too.
This is why nature pushes you towards better quality foods to make you feel more energetic and in control. Ultimately, that is what your body desperately needs in order to maintain balance.
Many women experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and difficulty sleeping during this transition period. But all is not lost!
Fortunately, making changes in your diet may help relieve some of these horrid symptoms but as people who have more plant based foods (traditional Asian foods for example) tend to get very little menopausal symptoms, if any at all. We must learn from them and try to adjust our diet accordingly.
It is possible to get low bone density during this time so making sure your diet is mineral rich is vital. Including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins D and K is very important on a daily basis.
Foods such as dark greens, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils etc all play a vital role in keeping us Nutritionally rich.
Healthy fats are crucial too. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and anchovies, and seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds can really make a massive difference in symptoms.
Whole grains are also key as they are high in nutrients, including fibre and B vitamins, such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. A diet high in whole grains has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and premature death. In studies, three or more servings of whole grains per day had a 20–30% lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Whole-grain foods include brown rice, whole-wheat bread, barley, quinoa, and rye. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with vitamins and minerals, fibre and antioxidants, and I think this goes without saying that including a truck loads of these on a daily basis is going to make a gigantic difference to your mood, energy and feelings of wellbeing.
Cruciferous vegetables should be high on your list too, as its now known that eating broccoli can help decrease levels of a type of oestrogen linked to breast cancer, while increasing levels of an oestrogen type that protects against breast cancer. So, buy in the broccoli!
Dark berries may also benefit women going through menopause due to their high anti-oxidant levels. Grape seed extract supplements taken daily have been particularly beneficial in women and they reported experiencing fewer hot flashes, better sleep and lower rates of depression.
Foods that naturally contain phytoestrogens include soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, flax seeds, barley, grapes, berries, plums, and green and black tea.
Because of the decline in oestrogen there is also a decreased muscle mass, so it's highly recommended that women going through menopause should eat more protein. Foods such as eggs, meat, fish, legumes etc. Plus, you can add protein powders to smoothies, such as pea protein, which is a highly concentrated, and excellent source of essential amino acid. This can help increase your metabolism and lose weight as well as support your muscles!