Oh menopause. The “change,” as they say. This season of life is so often regarded as a very challenging time for women, one filled with hormonal upheaval, mood changes, temperature dysregulation, and undesired fluctuations in weight. Basically, it sucks. But does it have to?
Numerous books and websites have sought to offer solutions to the maladies of menopause, including ideas such as herbal treatments, essentials oils, stress reduction techniques, exercise plans, and of course hormone therapies. All of these can offer help in various ways and certainly ease the symptoms. The one area that can have the biggest impact, particularly in not only easing symptoms but also in delaying menopause, is diet. What you put in your mouth every single day really matters, and it matters not only during menopause but years before you even go through the “change.”
So which foods are best? The advice is to eat a well-rounded diet, one that is chocked full of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. This will ensure you are getting adequate amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium and trace minerals, all of which can ease menopausal discomfort and keep your bones healthy. Omega 3 fatty acids can be another beneficial addition.
Here is a quick “eat this, not that” guide to get you going on a hormone-healthy diet plan!
Carrots, red peppers, kale, winter squash, sweet potato (these tubers have estrogen-like effects when eaten), watermelon
Fruits, veggies, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy
Dairy products, plant milks, leafy greens, beans, nuts, tofu, broccoli
*Calcium absorption tends to decrease as we age. Be sure to get a wide range of calcium-containing foods in your diet. Don’t forget that in order to get calcium where you want it (in your bones!) it needs its cofactors friends for optimal usage. These nutrient buddies include Magnesium, Vitamin D, Boron, and Vitamin K.
Nuts & seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds), spinach, avocado, butternut squash, mango, sweet potato, tomato
*This vitamin is critical as it stimulates the production of estrogen.
Oranges, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, pineapple, parsley, grapefruit, mango
Sunlight, fortified foods, sardines, salmon
*It is notoriously hard to get adequate amounts of this nutrient from food and sunlight, especially here in the northwest. In this rare case, a supplement is highly recommended.
Nuts, whole grains, spinach, pumpkin seeds, figs, avocado, banana, chocolate
Dark leafy greens, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, prunes, cucumbers, spring onions
Beans, berries, sweet potatoes, figs, prunes, plums, avocado, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, nuts
*This trace mineral not only helps calcium get into the bones, but research has also shown it can help balance hormone levels and ease menopausal symptoms.
Whole grains, beans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, oats
Omega 3 fatty acids:
Salmon, mackerel, sardines, mussels, flax seed, chia seeds, hemp hearts, walnuts
Here are some specific things to avoid for optimal hormonal support. I’m sure these will come as no surprise!
- Sugar and other refined carbohydrates
- Fast Food
- Factory farmed animal meats
Hopefully you have identified some foods you can start including regularly in your diet that you may not already be eating. On the flip side I think we all can all identify foods we should remove from our normal routine! Also, do note that many of the healthy foods are cross-listed, meaning that they have a host of important nutrients in them. Non-processed foods are a powerhouse of nutrition and may just be the extra boost you need to delay or alleviate those pesky hormone-related symptoms.