Hot flushes, losing hair, erratic periods…..Menopause? - Pt1

As a woman our body changes so much during our life. When menopause comes is a bit of a mystery if it has started, ended or still ongoing. Well it is for some. Some of the signs of menopause include:

-hair loss

-irregular periods

-moodiness (that makes us very popular 😊)

-weight gain

-night sweats and interrupted sleep

-change in breasts lumps and bumps (best to get those checked regardless)

And many others……….


Although this is a perfectly natural transformation it can be very frustrating as they can last for several years. Most of these changes occur because of the changes in estrogen levels as they begin to decline.


Declining estrogen levels can cause you weight gain and can also affect your cholesterol and metabolic abilities. Bone density can also be affected so for this, and the reasons above, it is really important to focus on diet. What should you focus on?


Dairy

Keep up the dairy products to look after your bones. Dairy contains vitamins D and K, phosphorous, calcium, potassium and magnesium and of course a nice dose of protein.

Dairy is thought to help with not only bone density during menopause but also with sleeping patterns. Foods high in calcium include yoghurt, milk, cheese, fish (e.g. canned or fresh sardines and salmon with bones in them), broccoli and leafy greens.


Fats

Omega 3’s are always talked about in terms of how healthy they are and they are also recommended during menopause. Studies in this area are both for and against and neutral so it’s up to you in the end to have moderation in your diet [1]. Foods high in omega 3’s includes fatty fish, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds.


Wholegrains

Poor old wholegrains have been given a beating of late but they are full of goodness. Food rich in vitamin B, fibre can’t be a bad thing and a diet rich in wholegrains is linked to keeping your heart healthy and preventing chronic diseases [2].


Fruit and Vegetables

You must know by now that we are huge fans of fibre here at Healthmap so eat it up. Don’t peel your veg and make half your plate at night salad or vegetables. You only need 2 pieces of fruit/day as it is full of sugar. Don’t eat fruit all day as you will quickly gain the weight you were dreading. You can eat most vegetables without that concern (except for the starchy ones) and your gut would love you.


Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables are thought to be good for menopause as well. This is no surprise as these are good for you regardless of what stage of life you are in but some studies out there think they may protect you from breast cancer but of course there are studies who find no link [3, 4].


What about Soy products I hear you say?

Soy products have something called phytoestrogens in them and many believe that they can cause cancer but of course some don’t believe that [5, 6]. What we need to remember is that most of the studies done in this area are on animal models and we are very different biologically and physically to a mouse.


The research that suggests soy may be a good thing for menopause believe that it increases your natural estrogen levels and can make menopause more manageable. That can’t be a bad thing. Moderation is the key here again. If you don’t eat soy already then you don’t have to but it might be worth a try to have some tofu mince or soymilk and see if it helps with the symptoms of menopause.


Protein

We need protein throughout our lives but it is really important during menopause because we have declining muscle mass and bone strength. I tell all my ladies of this age to do some resistance training to counteract what is happening to your body. Strong is sexy and it will make you feel great. Don’t worry, you won’t get big muscles (unless you really want to). Eat lean good quality protein to give your body what it wants.



Collagen

We are all concerned about ageing so should we take collagen supplements? NO, please don’t. Collagen is made by our body and if you take supplements it won’t be used for skin, hair and nails it will be excreted. Don’t pay big $$ for this supplement. Instead eat foods with Vitamin C (e.g. leafy greens, tomatoes, capsicums, fruit) in it as that is what helps your body make collagen but don’t get excited and overdose on vitamin C or any other vitamin.

They key is to look after your body with nourishing, nurturing foods and everything in moderation.


References

1. Mohammady, M., et al., Effect of omega-3 supplements on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, 2018. 228: p. 295-302.

2. Farvid, M.S., et al., Lifetime grain consumption and breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 2016. 159(2): p. 335-45.

3. Nechuta, S., et al., Postdiagnosis cruciferous vegetable consumption and breast cancer outcomes: a report from the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 2013. 22(8): p. 1451-1456.

4. Higdon, J.V., et al., Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res, 2007. 55(3): p. 224-36.

5. Takagi, A., M. Kano, and C. Kaga, Possibility of breast cancer prevention: use of soy isoflavones and fermented soy beverage produced using probiotics. Int J Mol Sci, 2015. 16(5): p. 10907-20.

6. Varinska, L., et al., Soy and breast cancer: focus on angiogenesis. Int J Mol Sci, 2015. 16(5): p. 11728-49.

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