Just as you think you’ve survived the most difficult part of your life by giving birth and raising a child, yet another challenge rears its head: Menopause.
You’ll start experiencing menopause symptoms in your late 40s or early 50s, and these will usually last a few years. Menopause symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and tiredness.
During this time, your natural sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) are beginning to reduce their production, due to depleted ovarian follicles. Oestrogen is essential to bone formation and integrity, as well as supporting healthy breast tissue, mood, sleep and cardiovascular functionality. It’s the reason why menopausal women are at a higher risk of diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and heart disease.
Your diet will play a huge role in how your body processes menopause. It’s therefore essential to nourish and support your body as much as possible while going through this transition, by eating the right foods, supplementing with herbs and implementing lasting lifestyle changes.
The more information you can acquire about supporting your biochemistry, the more control you have with your hormonal shift. This is your time to holistically nourish and support your body, take a hold of the reins and look after yourself with the immense love and compassion you deserve.
So here are nine natural ways to support your menopause.
1. Eat calcium-rich foods
Calcium is vital to support your bone density, structure and integrity which can become depleted in menopause. Aim to add a daily source of calcium-rich foods into your diet. These include tofu, dairy and eggs, as well as green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach.
2. Eat foods that are high in phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogen-rich foods compete with oestrogen receptors and help to balance out hormonal fluctuations. If you substantially increase your phytoestrogens intake, studies have shown them to help decrease menopausal symptoms over 12 weeks.
How much phytoestrogen-rich foods should you have? Aim for a quarter of your daily caloric intake. This is where your diet can really be nourishing and supportive not only to menopause symptoms, but your digestion as well, due to the high-fibre content.
There are four different types of phytoestrogen sources. Mix them up daily so you can get the maximum benefits:
- Lignans: Linseed, rye, millet, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, seaweed, buckwheat
- Coumestrol: Soy sprouts, alfalfa, red clover, green beans, mung beans, red beans, split peas
- Phytosterols: Olives, soy beans, pumpkin kernels
- Isoflavones: Soy beans, alfalfa, red clover, parsley, chickpeas, mung beans and brown wholegrains
3. Avoid these foods
Try to avoid excessive black tea and coffee as this can deplete bone mineralisation. Also, stay clear of high-sugar foods and processed foods (stick to whole foods as much as possible). Don’t have spicy food as it may aggravate hot flushes, and certainly don’t eat or drink too late before bed.
4. Enjoy some sage
Sage has traditionally been the go-to herb for menopausal women to reduce hot flushes and promote stress reduction. It has been shown to bind to GABA receptors in the brain and positively impact the nervous system. This is great news as menopause often excessively stimulates the nervous system instigating hot flushes, sweating and anxiety.
Supplementing your diet with sage can improve memory retention, reduce stress and reduce excessive sweating. This is a great herb to make as a strong tea and enjoyed with ice when battling those fiery moments.
5. Try some lemon balm
Lemon balm, or melissa officinalis, is a calming and sedative herb, perfect for getting you that well-deserved restful sleep. Menopause often disrupts rejuvenating sleep due to night sweats, hot flushes, increased anxiety and nervousness. A 2020 study demonstrates that supplementing melissa officinalis can significantly improve sleep, sexual desire, heart palpitations, flushes, sweating and even joint pain.
If you feel constantly on edge with mood changes galore and a longing for a deep, restorative sleep, lemon balm might just be the herb for you.
Note that herbs and nutrients can interfere with other medications. It is important to seek advice from a trained professional prior to starting alternative therapies.
6. Aim for and maintain a healthy weight
This will support your body from every aspect and you’ll feel great working on yourself! If you’re feeling like weight just keeps packing on, fatigue is your new shadow and depression is lurking, it might be time to check your thyroid too.
7. Exercise regularly
Get those endorphins going! You won’t ever regret a workout—you’ll feel strong, capable and ready to take on your next task. Remember, you are worth it, your body is worth it.
8. Get enough sunshine and vitamin D
Sunshine is by far the best way to get your vitamin D and the perfect excuse to immerse yourself in nature. Nature is essential for mental health and wellbeing.
9. Find your female tribe!
Get together with other women your age, be among the strength of women: Support them and they will support you.
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