Whether you are peri-, post- or just right smack in the middle of menopause, you will find that your symptoms will change but the fact is, your body will never, ever be the same. While a great supplement like our Women’s Health product called Luminology is a wonderful addition to manage those various symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain, dry skin, strange headaches, bone health, depression, and all the other strange feelings that come with menopause, the ultimate way to beat those feelings is through diet, exercise and stress reduction. Although I can’t go through them all, here are the most common menopause issues and dietary solutions for them:
Hot Flashes | Stop eating those foods that trigger them! You will know exactly what they are since you cannot fool your body—ever! I have even found that too much fresh fruit can now bring them on as can eating too much food at one sitting. Everyone knows that chocolate, alcohol and coffee can spur those rosy cheeks, but who would have guessed that even moderate dehydration can bring on a hot flash?
Tiredness | Eating any foods that contain caffeine, even natural caffeine like carrots, can hinder your chances of sleeping through the night. Make sure you take any B vitamin supplements well before noon too! Try to eat only foods that don’t burn too much energy in the digestion process and eat lighter meals throughout the day instead of three heavy meals.
Dry Skin | 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 normalize hormone levels. What I have found even more effective is slathering my body with a combination of olive and coconut oils immediately after a shower. I have been doing this all summer and while I haven’t seen any major wrinkle reduction in my face, my legs and arms have become smoother and less crepey. It is nice to hear other women ask me what I am doing to keep my skin so healthy looking. I tell them to save their money and use olive and coconut oils instead.
Mood Swings | Increase your omega 3 fats and your B vitamins. Whether it is grains and beans and lentils with flax seed oil and avocados, you will cover both your bases if you consume more of these healthy foods and keep that cloud from ruining your sunny day. Grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, and amaranth are the best options for grains as they're all gluten-free, high in fiber, and easy to digest. They're also full of B vitamins for increased energy and have been shown to help mitigate migraines. Figs are a great source of calcium and vitamins. Whole raw figs, not the dried kind, are very rich in nutrients and can help make up for some of the losses that occur when the body is under stress from things like hot flashes and mood swings.
Weight Gain/Constipation | Most of us need to work hard not to gain weight during and after menopause. Gaining weight during and after menopause can increase your risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer. Fortunately, eating fiber-rich foods can help: fiber helps us feel full on less. Aim to eat between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. Flax seeds will become your best bud now. Not only do they have a lot of fiber, but they also contain some estrogen-like compounds that will assist you in the results of the hormonal changes your body has gone through. Very low in calories and high in fiber, vegetables come in handy as our calorie needs decrease and weight gain risk increases as we age.
Vaginal Dryness, Low Sex Drive and Weak Bones | Wild yams act like estrogen supplementation and tend to lessen the effect of low estrogen levels in menopausal women. They can be eaten whole or taken as whole food supplementation. Calcium deficiencies are the leading causes of bone health degeneration. This is partly because the foods we traditionally think are calcium rich are not usable by our bodies because they've been too processed. Worried that broccoli will make you bloat? If you're getting enough vitamin D—the vitamin that stops bloating—then you should be good to go! As you and I are aging, we now realize that not only do we need to consume fewer calories, but we need to consume more nutrition. We can never let ourselves get dehydrated and never miss out on moving our bodies.
I’m sure every woman reading this has experienced a time or two when a step backward has meant a very uncomfortable few days going forward. Let’s all keep the gracefulness in our aging but fight the future illnesses that seem to be so common with the decline in hormones. Take care of yourself and you will still have many more enjoyable years ahead of you!