Women’s health expert and nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com) explains how natural remedies can help to help beat menopause symptoms
Some women sail through the menopause, but others struggle with the transition, experiencing a whole host of unpleasant symptoms. From the mid-40s (or sometimes earlier), the body starts to show signs that it is preparing for this new life stage. These can include changes in the frequency or heaviness of periods, premenstrual tension, mood swings and irritability.
As your body produces less oestrogen other symptoms may appear. These can include aching joints, depression, lack of energy, joint pains, declining libido, weight gain, headaches and, most commonly, hot flushes and night sweats.
HRT is a common treatment to help with symptoms, but the good news is that there are also some good alternatives that can work well to control side effects.
Keep blood sugar levels balanced
If you are suffering from increased mood swings, irritability and depression, taking measures to balance your blood sugar is absolutely crucial. This means not only thinking about the quality of the food that you eat, but also the timing. You need to completely eliminate added sugar and refined carbohydrates in order to see a marked improvement in your moods.
Control stress levels
Aim to control stress as it is well known that the more stressed you are, the more severe the menopause symptoms can be as your adrenal glands are the major source of oestrogen through the menopause. Look at the stress in your life and see what you can control. Reduce or eliminate caffeine and take a supplement to help such as NHP’s Tranquil Woman Support, £24.77, naturalhealthpractice.com.
Soya, sage, flaxseeds, hops and red clover may all help to minimise menopause symptoms. Sage has been shown to decrease hot flushes by 50 per cent after four weeks and by 64 per cent after eight weeks. Furthermore, hops have been shown to help with both hot flushes and night sweats, and red clover significantly reduces vasomotor symptoms when compared to a placebo.
Increase levels of omega 3 and vitamin D
Eat plenty of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, as these foods help create anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that can ease the pain and inflammation of swollen joints. If you do not eat much of these foods, add in a good Omega 3 fish oil supplement containing at least 700mg EPA and 500mg DHA per day.
The risk of osteoporosis increases with age, especially after the menopause when oestrogen levels decline. Following a regular exercise programme can help to offset the effects because, as the more physically active you are, the more bone you will build.
Load up on calcium
Calcium is the key component of bone. It is essential for skeletal health throughout our lives. This micronutrient is found in dairy products, but dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fish with bones, tofu, nuts and seeds are also rich in calcium which helps to minimise osteoporosis symptoms.
Magnesium is also essential for calcium to be absorbed properly in our bodies, and bone density to be maintained. About 60 per cent of the magnesium in our bodies can be found in the bones.
Pay particular attention to adding phytoestrogens (foods that help to balance hormones) to your diet. These include soya, chickpeas and lentils. Studies show that women who eat a diet rich in phytoestrogens have significantly fewer hot flushes.