Are you lost in a sea of hormones – then here’s how best to surf the waves during the menopausal years.

During the menopause your hormones will be fluctuating up and down until you come out the other side and into post menopause, when your hormones will stabilize again.  The more gradually you go through the menopause, the fewer hormone fluctuations you will experience and the easier the transition will be.  Maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, and reducing stress levels plays a huge role in this transition.

The impact of stress

The adrenal glands not only support androgen & oestrogen metabolism, they also support the body’s “adaptogenic” response. This refers to the body’s ability to cope with, or adapt to, stress. While it is normal for a woman to be under stress in today’s society, chronic & long term stress may contribute to adrenal fatigue, possibly predisposing a woman to health problems long before she even reaches menopause. Excessive or prolonged activation of the stress hormones increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, peptic ulcers, and asthma.

Nurturing your adrenals with the correct foods along with adaptogenic herbs will ultimately result in a more stable progression through menopause and beyond.

Adaptogenic herbs for stress: rhodiola, ashwagandha, astralagus, schizandra.

A diet that centers on maintaining healthy hormonal and neurotransmitter balance may play an important role during the peri-menopausal years, leading up to menopause. Consuming small meals throughout the day providing balanced ratios of fibre-rich complex carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of healthy fats is recommended. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Health-promoting fats include fish, flax, pumpkin, walnuts, sesame, sunflower, and almonds. The avoidance of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine-containing foods and beverages may also help in reducing menopausal symptoms. It is recommended to limit intake of dairy products and animal fats.

Phyto-estrogens are chemicals ocurring naturally in certain plants and research shows that they can mimic the action of oestrogen.

Beneficial foods high in phyto-estrogens: pomegranates, black beans, chickpeas, celery & lentils.

Lignins act as anti-oxidants and are also classed as phyto-estrogens.  They are found in: flaxseed & sesame seeds, broccoli & apricots.

Isoflavones are another classs of phyto-estrogens, with the chemical structure being similar to that of oestrogen.  Soy beans are the most common form of isoflavones, the major ones being genistein & daidzein. Isoflavones are also found in legumes.  (Please note, soy is not suitable for everyone and should be discussed further with your healthcare practitioner)

Oily fish support hormonal levels and all cellular membranes within the body.

Beneficial herbs: dill, fennel, licorice root, red clover, black cohosh, rhubarb, sage, dong quai, chasteberry.

Minerals:

Potassium is protective against high blood pressure which can increase during menopause. High potassium foods: bananas, apples, avocados, tomatoes.

Magnesium relaxes the nervous system and is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions within the body.  Magnesium rich foods: oats, brown rice, millet, lentils, almonds & broccoli.

Calcium is vital for the formation of strong bones, it lowers cholesterol levels and regulates your heartbeat.  Calcium is found in salmon (with bones) sardines, seafood and dark green leafy vegetables.  Also almonds, asparagus, broccoli & kale. Progesterone helps to transport calcium into the bones, as these levels decline women can be at risk of osteoporosis.

Boron 3 mg of boron doubles blood levels of oestrogen. Boron rich foods: apples, pears, grapes, almonds, strawberry, peaches, dandelion, asparagus, leafy greens.

DIM &  I3C help to detoxify the bad xeno-estrogens from the body, these are found in foods such as cruciferous vegetables.  These protect against cancer of the breast & womb.

Avoid: sugar, spicy foods, coffee, hot soups, red wine, all can bring on a hot flush.

ACTION PLAN

Support your adrenals
Detoxify your liver
Balance your blood sugar levels, eat every 3 hours – choose nourishing foods
Support with appropriate herbals depending on your symptoms
Practice daily stress relief eg exercise, meditation, yoga, gratitude
Bio identical hormones could be used, if and when appropriate

As my motto is ‘food first’ I like to recommend a natural formulation of herbal Superfoods that can be added to smoothies, yogurt or sprinkled over your muesli.  These gently modulate and balance your hormones and adrenals.

PURPLE PASSION SMOOTHIE  

½ cup yogurt – or almond milk
½ cup frozen blueberries (antioxidants)
1 TBS ground seeds (lignans)
Handful of almonds ground with seeds (protein)
1 teaspoon almond butter (protein)
2 teaspoons Thrive Superfood for Women (adatogenic herbs)
Little spring water
Blend pour and enjoy : )

 Be sure to find ‘me time’ for yourself, and by nurturing your body

 you will be rewarded with vitality & good health through this transition.

 Lynne Maccallum
Nutritional Therapist

www.nourishbynature.co.za