HOW TO DEAL WITH MENOPAUSE
Okay, some years back I noticed my mum got irritable. I mean a real monster to live with. I thought she got tired of living with us. Then it clicked. She was going through the great change and instantly I felt pity for her. Just recently a friend complained of same from an aunt and bearing on the general conception that every ailment of man hinges on diet and can be helped by the same.
What is Menopause :
Menopause is basically when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly. Menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline.
However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms of Menopause:
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities (makes sense now!).
Common symptoms include:
*Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
*Depression or anxiety
*short term memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
Dietary Approaches to Managing Menopause:
Hormonal fluctuations can affect the body’s ability to maintain stable blood sugar levels, so reducing sugar intake is a major component to weight loss and maintenance. But an all-or-nothing approach is not the way to go when it comes to the sweet stuff, says Gibbs. While the women in her study who reduced their sugar intake lost the most weight, and had maintained that loss 4 years after the study began, she’s quick to say that these women reduced their sugar intake—they didn’t eliminate it altogether, which is a tough habit to keep up with (and can lead to binges). Refined sugars, like those in cookies and cakes, are the ones you should reduce. Keep the natural sugars that are found in fruit as your main source of sweetness.
Fat Free Foods:
Fat-free or reduced-fat foods are bad news for post menopausal women for a few reasons.
1.) They keep you from eating the healthy fats your body needs to combat heart disease, which postmenopausal women may be at increased risk of due to a combination of reduced estrogen, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
2.) With many fat-free foods, including salad dressings and peanut butter, you’re gaining in sugar what you’re losing in fat, which is not good for weight control, energy, and overall health. Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, a Boston-based nutritionist who works with postmenopausal women on weight management issues, advises sticking with minimally processed, plant-based sources of fat that are rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, and omega-3s, such as nuts, fish, and avocados. These fats are even correlated with colon cancer prevention; some studies have shown an increased risk of this type of cancer among postmenopausal women who do not use hormone replacement therapy.
Calcium Supplementation :
It’s often advisable to get your nutrients (calcium inclusive) from natural foods e.g diary and diary products. Supplements are to be reserved for increased requirement cases such as osteoporosis and other bone issues and may not be necessary for a woman on a healthy diet. Excessive calcium intake carries health risks including kidney stones, constipation, and probably heart disease. Women are wise to protect their bones with a calcium-rich diet including foods like dark green leafy vegetables and dairy (even nondairy milks like almond or coconut milks are fortified with calcium). Another way to protect yourself is with resistance-based exercises that put bones under healthy stress to maintain their strength.
How much wine is in a “glass” of wine? Many people “forget” that the actual serving size is a half-cup in a liquid measure. This means that many of us inadvertently exceed the recommendation of no more than one glass of an alcoholic beverage per day to reduce stroke risk and lower breast cancer risk, both issues of high concern for postmenopausal women. “Red wine in moderation isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it’s not the health food many women think it is,” says Kennedy. And for the record, the serving size for beer is 355 ml, and for hard liquor or spirits, the serving size is 44 mls.
Limit Fat Intake:
As age advances, there’s an increase in risk of certain diseases such as heart problems and diabetes usually due to hormone imbalances. The plan is not to cut fat totally out but to limit intake to healthy unsaturated sources. Fat should provide 25% to 35% or less of your total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and boosts your risk for heart disease. It’s found in fatty meats, whole milk, ice cream, and cheese. Limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams or less per day. And watch out for trans fats, found in vegetable oils, many baked goods, and some margarine. Trans fat also raises cholesterol and increases your risk for heart disease.
Viewing Soy as a Miracle Food:
Soy is often touted a postmenopause wonder; it’s a plant-based source of protein and fiber that contains compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in your body. In its whole-food forms, like edamame, tofu, or miso, soy does deliver on these healthful promises. But seeing “soy” or “soy protein” on a food label doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy food. Protein powders or other highly processed soy products are far more concentrated than natural soy, and they can be risky for women with thyroid issues or a history of breast cancer because their hormone-like properties can raise the risks of estrogen-based cancers. (Stick with these protein powders for your smoothies). Although by acting in a similar way to oestrogen, they may help in keeping hormones a little more in balance. A high intake of phytoestrogens is thought to explain why hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms rarely occur in populations consuming a predominantly plant-based diet.It just should not be over done.
Pump up Your Iron:
Eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products. The recommended dietary allowance for iron in older women is 8 milligrams a day.
Get enough fiber:Help yourself to foods high in fiber, such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Most adult women should get about 21 grams of fiber a day. This helps to keep your gut healthy and eases bowel movement.
Associated Care Plans:
Eating your Feelings:
The transition into menopause can be emotionally intense, and many women fall into the habit of eating to self-soothe during that tumultuous time. Those habits can remain in place postmenopause, leading to weight gain, low energy, and unmanaged emotions. The first thing to do is recognize that what you are passing through is totally normal and try to replace food with healthier, mind stimulating habits. Exercising, talking to friends, volunteering in your community, practicing mindfulness meditation or yoga, and working with a therapist are all great strategies for emotional wellness.
Legumes, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, almonds contain vitamin E, zinc and calcium. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin and normalise hormone levels.
Depression and irritability:
Ensure you eat enough protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan. You can find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats and legumes. Tryptophan helps manufacture the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps moods and may help control sleep and appetite which can make you feel better in yourself. Other useful strategies to help you feel less irritable are to eat breakfast and not miss meals to balance your blood sugar.
Avoid foods that are likely to trigger or worsen hot flushes and night sweats. For instance, avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night – they’re notorious for setting off hot flushes. A high intake of tryptophan containing foods could also help in abating hot flushes.
Avoid snacking on sugary foods – all too often a sharp rise in your blood glucose level may be followed by a sharp dip which leaves you feeling tired and drained. Choose fresh fruit with a few nuts instead.
Finally, I may never have a personal experience on this subject but motivation and conscious decision to avoid triggers and fall outs of menopause would definitely help a great deal. Embrace the natural process you are going through and determine to make the best of it. Eat healthy, lots of exercise and water and stimulate your mind and you would find little or no consequence in menopause. Goodluck!
NUTRIGENOMICS : THE UNDERDOG OF NUTRITION
The author Prince
Hi, I’m Prince.. a registered Dietitian, an avid reader and a passionate writer. I hope you enjoy my articles as much as I enjoy writing them