Menopause is the one-year anniversary of your last menstrual period. It is a time when some women experience symptoms ranging from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. These might include hot flushes, interrupted sleep or insomnia, painful intercourse and fatigue – to name but a few.
It can be highly beneficial to become breath-aware to support your body during this time, taking time each day to slow your breathing rate down. Embracing calming, breath-focused practices such as meditation, yoga, or qi gong (similar to tai chi) might appeal. It’s also a time when nourishing yourself with plenty of whole real foods while minimising or avoiding alcohol and processed foods can help alleviate some symptoms. It might also be a time when you are prompted to deal with emotions as they arise (because it feels particularly uncomfortable if you don’t) and maintain good adrenal health, as post-menopausally, the adrenal glands are the sole source of progesterone production. Progesterone is an anti-anxiety agent, an anti-depressant and a diuretic – meaning it allows us to get rid of excess fluid – so it plays a critical role in our health and wellness across all life stages.
Here are some wonderful foods to support your body through the menopausal transition.
Raw nuts and seeds
They are a good source of antioxidant vitamin E as well as zinc. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin. They are also very satiating and can help to regulate blood glucose levels. Some seeds contain lignans, which help support healthy estrogen metabolism, essential for menopausal transition.
Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, and while it does contain some caffeine, which can heighten the fight/flight arm of the nervous system, the effect tends to be buffered by the amino acid, l-theanine. Green tea has been shown to support cardiovascular health, help reduce the risk of certain cancers and assist with concentration.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale)
These powerhouse vegetables support healthy liver function and estrogen metabolism. They also contain sulforaphane, an antioxidant and stimulator of natural detoxifying enzymes. Sulforaphane may help reduce the risk of breast and bladder cancers.
Oily fish such as salmon or flaxseeds
They are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids protect heart health due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also wonderful for skin health as they help moisturise skin, which can tend to dryness during menopause. Opt for wild-caught salmon, not farmed.
Extra virgin olive oil
Consuming olive oil improves some of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. It also helps improve your blood-cholesterol profile and contributes to the prevention of blood clots forming. Additionally, it plays a role in healthy blood-glucose control, which is important in preventing type 2 diabetes.