Eat to beat the menopause

Menopause symptoms can start in the mid-40s (or earlier for some women) and include changes in the frequency or heaviness of your periods, premenstrual tension, mood swings and irritability.

As your body produces less and less oestrogen, other symptoms might appear, such as aching joints, depression, lack of energy, declining libido, weight gain, headaches and, most commonly, hot flushes and night sweats.

Luckily, there are things we can do to help alleviate these symptoms – and they all lie in what we eat. Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville talks us through her 12-step hormone-balancing diet.

“The menopause is a time of change and your female hormones are going to be fluctuating up and down until you come out the other side and intothepost-menopause, when your hormones will stabilise,” says Marilyn.

“The more gradually you go through the menopause, the less hormone fluctuations you experience and the easier the transition. What you eat now to prepare yourself for this stage can make the difference between having a difficult or easy menopause.”

  1. Include hormone-balancing phytoestrogens in your diet

2.  Eat more Omega 3 fatty acids

3.  Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables

4.  Change from refined carbohydrates like white bread and white pasta to unrefined ones like wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta

5.  Buy organic foods where possible

6.  Reduce your intake of saturated fat from dairy products and meat

7.  Make sure you drink enough fluids

8.  Increase your intake of fibre

9.  Eliminate foods containing chemicals such as additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners

10. Avoid or reduce your intake of caffeine

11. Reduce or eliminate alcohol

12. Avoid refined sugar either eaten on its own or added to food

“I also always recommend that women take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral to prepare for and during the menopause. A regular exercise programme, as well as eating a healthy, bone-building diet, is also crucial for warding off osteoporosis.”

What is the menopause?

Dr Heather Currie of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists explains…

The menopause is the biological stage in a women’s life when her ovaries stop producing eggs and the amount of oestrogen hormone in the body drops. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

Each woman is different and will respond to the menopause in her own way – both physically and emotionally. Before the full onset of menopause, there is a stage known as perimenopause. This can last for four to five years or longer.

Not all women have symptoms at this stage, but some women may experience a change in menstrual cycle, hot flushes and night sweats, headaches or dizziness, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, memory problems, loss of interest in sex and weight gain. This is due to the body adjusting to the decline in levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone

Getting a regular good night’s sleep, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, and taking part in regular exercise and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and breathing exercises, have all been shown to improve symptoms.

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Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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