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Easing Menopause With A Diet

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Oh menopause. The “change” as they say. This phase of life is so often described as a very challenging time for women, characterized by hormonal upheavals, mood swings, temperature disturbances and unwanted weight fluctuations. Basically it sucks. But does it have to?

Numerous books and websites have attempted to offer solutions to menopause discomfort, including ideas such as herbal treatments, essential oils, stress reduction techniques, exercise plans, and of course, hormone therapies. All of these can help in a number of ways and will certainly ease the symptoms. The one area that can have the greatest impact, particularly in not only relieving symptoms but also delaying menopause, is diet. What you put in your mouth each day really matters, and it’s important not just during menopause, but years before you even go through the “change.”

So what foods are best? The advice is to eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. This will ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and trace minerals, all of which can relieve any menopausal symptoms and keep your bones healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids can be another useful supplement.

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Here’s a quick “eat this, not that” guide to get you on a hormone-healthy eating plan!

EAT THIS

Vitamin A:

Carrots, red peppers, kale, winter squash, sweet potato (these tubers have estrogen-like effects when eaten), watermelon

B vitamins:

Fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products

Calcium:

Dairy Products, Plant Milk, Leafy Greens, Beans, Nuts, Tofu, Broccoli

* Calcium intake tends to decrease with age. Make sure you include a wide variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet. Don’t forget that in order to get calcium where you want it (in your bones!), calcium needs its cofactor friends for optimal utilization. These nutrient friends include magnesium, vitamin D, boron and vitamin K.

Vitamin E:

Nuts & Seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds), spinach, avocado, butternut squash, mango, sweet potato, tomato

*This vitamin is crucial as it stimulates the production of estrogen.

Vitamin C:

Oranges, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, pineapple, parsley, grapefruit, mango

Vitamin D:

Sunlight, fortified foods, sardines, salmon

*It’s notoriously difficult to get adequate amounts of this nutrient from food and sunlight, especially here in the Northwest. In this rare case, supplementation is strongly recommended.

Magnesium:

Nuts, Whole Grains, Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds, Figs, Avocado, Banana, Chocolate

Vitamin K:

Dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, plums, cucumbers, green onions

Boron:

Beans, Berries, Sweet Potatoes, Figs, Prunes, Prune, Avocado, Apples, Pears, Peaches, Grapes, Nuts

*Not only does this trace element help calcium get into the bones, but research has shown that it can help balance hormone levels and reduce menopause symptoms.

Manganese:

Whole grains, beans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, oats

Omega-3 fatty acids:

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, mussels, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp hearts, walnuts

NOT THAT

Here are some specific things to avoid for optimal hormonal support. I’m sure these will come as no surprise!

  • Sugar and other refined carbohydrates

  • Fast food

  • Meat from industrially bred animals

  • caffeine

  • alcohol

Hopefully you’ve identified some foods to add regularly to your diet that you may not be eating yet. On the other hand, I think we can identify all the foods that we should eliminate from our normal routine! Also note that many of the healthy foods are cross-listed, meaning they contain a variety of important nutrients. Unprocessed foods are a nutritional powerhouse and can be just that extra boost you need to delay or relieve those pesky hormone-related symptoms.

Thanks to Danielle VenHuizen

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