Menopause affects women in completely different ways, but most can agree it can be an uncomfortable and distressing time period. Many women report symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, fluctuating emotions, and memory issues, among many others.
A woman’s menstrual cycle stops around her early 50s, which is when many of the symptoms often begin. These symptoms are almost all down to the ovaries stopping manufacturing the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and the knock-on effect this has on the other hormones in the body.
For example, oestrogen helps to lift our mood, so, when levels drop we may feel depressed. Also, declining oestrogen can have a negative effect on the metabolism, making weight gain far more of a possibility, which can also affect cholesterol levels. Some people choose hormone replacement treatment (HRT) to try and aid this, while others may try natural remedies, such as food.
Eating and avoiding certain foods has been found to have a positive effect on menopause symptoms, and make the whole experience more bearable for those deciding to utilise HRT or not.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and plant foods that may be beneficial for women trying to rebalance their hormones as they approach and begin menopause. Though plant-based, they function much like human oestrogen- mimicking it, and are therefore able to accomplish many of the same things. However, phytoestrogens do not bind to the oestrogen sensors quite as firmly as human oestrogen, so their effects may be weaker. Phytoestrogen foods may still be extremely beneficial in helping to reduce symptoms of menopause.
Natural oestrogen in the body is known to help maintain bone strength and density, so when oestrogen levels drop during menopause women become more susceptible to osteoporosis due to declining oestrogen levels. Studies have shown that phytoestrogen may be effective in supporting bones and helping to decrease the risk of declining bone health.
Studies have also shown that phytoestrogen may be beneficial in relieving hot flushes and sweats, helping to reduce the frequency of these flushes without negative side effects. There is also some evidence to show that phytoestrogen can help to balance hormone levels, which can have a positive effect on mood and energy.
Phytoestrogen has also been found to benefit menopausal acne by helping to rebalance hormones when they become unbalanced due to increased androgens.
It is suggested that if you are wanting to utilize phytoestrogen then it is healthier and safer to use natural sources- such as plant foods, rather than synthetic oestrogen supplementation. Oestrogen supplementing comes with risks, so before you decide you want to start eating or ingesting more phytoestrogen to aid menopause it is always best to speak to your doctor beforehand.
Increasing phytoestrogen in your diet can be a great way to supplement a healthy lifestyle due to phytoestrogen sources lying in healthy plant foods.
Nuts and seeds- flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts.
Fruit- apples, pomegranates, strawberries, grapes, cranberries, dried apricots, dates, prunes, peaches.
Vegetables- lentils, alfalfa sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, carrots, mung beans, garlic.
Soy products- soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, edamame beans.
Liquids- coffee, jasmine oil, olive oil.
Grains- wheat bran, barley, oats.
When oestrogen levels lower during menopause there is an increased risk of weakened bones and fractures. Dairy products are fantastic sources of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins D and K, all of which are essential for bone health. Increasing these nutrients in your diet can help to support and increase bone density during the menopause. Always try and opt for organic dairy as non-organic dairy products are often high in hormones that can negatively affect and imbalance your own hormones.
Try organic sources of milk, cheese, yoghurt, and other dairy products.
A well-rounded and healthy diet
Increase your consumption of fruit, cruciferous vegetables and greens, colourful vegetables, and whole foods. This ensures you are keeping your body stocked with all the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need to sustain optimal health, which can help to support your body through menopause, and help limit weight gain. At The Pure Package, we offer healthy, nutritious and delicious meals that are calorie-controlled to support you through weight loss. Delivering 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, we take the effort and worry out of being healthy and losing weight. Specifically, our Longevity package is designed to give you a boost of antioxidants and protein, while omitting refined sugar and dairy to help your healthy journey. Find your perfect plan here.
Declining oestrogen levels during menopause are linked to a decrease in muscle mass and bone strength. Upping your protein intake can help to strengthen the bones and muscles and increase muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass helps to speed up the metabolism, which can aid weight loss.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, as well as chia and flax seeds, have been shown to decrease the frequency of hot flushes and the intensity of night sweats. Be sure to up your intake of omega 3 fatty acid foods to give your body a better chance of decreasing symptoms.
Foods to limit where possible
Added sugars and processed foods
Processed and high-sugar foods can cause blood sugar levels to heighten and increase the chances of high blood pressure. High blood pressure and insulin resistance have been linked to a greater risk of experiencing hot flushes and sweats during menopause, so aim to reduce consumption of these types of foods to minimise symptoms.
Alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can also trigger hot flushes, so it is best to limit your intake of these for minimised symptoms. Both are also known to be sleep disruptors, which can make symptoms of insomnia during the menopause even worse, so try to limit these drinks, especially after 3 pm.
Spicy foods have also been known to trigger hot flushes and sweats, so it may be worth reducing your intake of them or lowering the heat.
The menopause can be an extremely difficult time for many women until they get into their stride and find what is best for them to help minimise their symptoms. Try using food as the crux of your healthy journey through menopause and consider upping your phytoestrogen uptake to ensure you are eating healthy and nutritious foods each day.
Here at The Pure Package, we want to support you through your menopause journey and keep you feeling healthy and sustained. Delivering 3 meals and 2 snacks a day personalised to you, we take the effort and worry out of being healthy and losing weight.
If you want to discover the best plan for you, book a nutritionist consultation and discuss your goals with one of our in-house nutritionists. We can help you find the best portion sizes and menu plans to help you reach your full potential and live a healthier lifestyle.
Book a consultation here.
Find your perfect plan here.