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Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, marking the end of reproductive years. While this transition is inevitable, the associated symptoms can vary widely and impact daily life. From hot flashes and mood swings to sleep disturbances and bone health concerns, menopausal symptoms can be challenging. However, emerging research suggests that specific nutrients and phytoestrogens found in certain foods can play a significant role in reducing these symptoms.

In this article, we will delve into the science-backed benefits of these compounds and offer practical recommendations to tweak your eating habits for a smoother menopausal journey.

1. Nutrients to Ease Menopausal Symptoms

Calcium and Vitamin D

One of the primary concerns during menopause is bone health. Declining estrogen levels can lead to reduced bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial nutrients for maintaining bone health. A study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (Aggarwal S, Nityanand, 2013) emphasized the importance of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in reducing the risk of fractures among postmenopausal women. Include dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, and fatty fish in your diet to boost your intake of these bone-supporting nutrients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties and may help manage mood swings and cognitive changes associated with menopause. Research published in the The Journal of clinical psychiatry (Freeman et al., 2006) suggested that omega-3 supplementation might alleviate depressive symptoms. Fatty fish like salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3s.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. They have gained attention for their potential to alleviate menopausal symptoms. A meta-analysis published in the The Journal of The North American Menopause Society (Taku et al., 2012) indicated that soy-based phytoestrogens might be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Incorporate soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame into your meals for a natural source of phytoestrogens.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are rich in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. A study in the Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (Thompson et al., 2005) highlighted that flaxseed consumption may help reduce hot flashes and improve overall quality of life in postmenopausal women. Consider adding ground flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal or yogurt for an easy boost of phytoestrogens.

Red Clover

Red clover contains isoflavones, another class of phytoestrogens. Research published in the Maturitus journal (van de Weijer et al., 2002) suggested that red clover supplementation might lead to a reduction in hot flashes and an improvement in cardiovascular health. Red clover tea or supplements could be integrated into your routine after consulting with a healthcare professional.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds contain lignans similar to those found in flaxseeds. A study in the International journal of preventive medicine (Namayandeh et al., 2013) indicated that sesame lignans might contribute to better lipid profiles and antioxidant status in postmenopausal women. Sprinkle sesame seeds on salads or use tahini as a dressing to incorporate these beneficial seeds into your diet.

Making Changes to Your Nutrition during Menopause

Gradual Incorporation

Changing your eating habits can be overwhelming, so start small. Begin by adding one or two nutrient-rich foods to each meal. For instance, toss some leafy greens and nuts into your lunchtime salad or have a serving of yogurt topped with flaxseeds for breakfast.

Balanced Diet

Focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Haring et al., 2016) emphasised the role of a balanced diet in managing cognitive health during and post menopause.

Navigating through menopause doesn’t have to be a daunting journey. By harnessing the power of nutrients and phytoestrogens, you can proactively manage your symptoms and enhance your overall well-being. Remember, the key lies in gradual changes, a balanced diet, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals to ensure you’re making choices that align with your unique health requirements.

Consult a Professional

Before making significant changes to your diet or adding supplements, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. I can provide you with personalised recommendations based on your individual needs. Click here to book a consult and find out more.

References

  1. Aggarwal S, Nityanand. Calcium and vitamin D in post menopausal women. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Dec;17(Suppl 3):S618-20. 
  2. Freeman, M. P., Hibbeln, J. R., Wisner, K. L., Davis, J. M., Mischoulon, D., Peet, M., Keck, P. E., Jr, Marangell, L. B., Richardson, A. J., Lake, J., & Stoll, A. L. (2006). Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. The Journal of clinical psychiatry67(12), 1954–1967
  3. Taku, K., Melby, M. K., Kronenberg, F., Kurzer, M. S., & Messina, M. (2012). Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause (New York, N.Y.)19(7), 776–790.
  4. Thompson, L. U., Chen, J. M., Li, T., Strasser-Weippl, K., & Goss, P. E. (2005). Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research11(10), 3828–3835. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-04-2326
  5. van de Weijer, P. H., & Barentsen, R. (2002). Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas42(3), 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-5122(02)00080-4
  6. Namayandeh, S. M., Kaseb, F., & Lesan, S. (2013). Olive and sesame oil effect on lipid profile in hypercholesterolemic patients, which better?. International journal of preventive medicine4(9), 1059–1062.
  7. Haring, B., Wu, C., Mossavar-Rahmani, Y., Snetselaar, L., Brunner, R., Wallace, R. B., Neuhouser, M. L., & Wassertheil-Smoller, S. (2016). No Association between Dietary Patterns and Risk for Cognitive Decline in Older Women with 9-Year Follow-Up: Data from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics116(6), 921–930.e1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.017

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