Foods play a role in either making or breaking the ease of your Menopausal Transition. Discussed will be 3 foods to avoid and 3 foods to increase at this stage of life and why.
There are many food-based hot flush triggers, the most problematic of them all is sugar. Sugar and blood sugar irregularities not only trigger hot flushes, but they also play a role in night sweats, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, sleeping issues, irritable, aggressive moods, headaches, digestive issues, poor immunity, skin outbreaks, inflammation and pain, feeling dizzy, trembling hands, hair loss, and the list goes on. This list could easily be a list of possible symptoms for the menopausal transition, but this is a list of symptoms linked with blood sugar issues. I’ll let that sink in, symptoms of blood sugar issues include hot flushes, night sweats, poor moods, insomnia, and weight gain - the top most commonly reported symptoms of menopause.
Can you see why it's so important to try to identify underlying causes of symptoms and not just band-aid them up? Blood sugar issues are very common at this stage of life, 1 in 3 women will develop type 2 diabetes by the end of their transition. You have got to get sugar out of your diet.
My second dietary consideration is pro-inflammatory fats. It may surprise you I’m not talking about saturated fats, I’m talking about excessive Omega 6. Yes, Omega 6 is an essential fat for health but the amount of it the average person is consuming is toxic. The most problematic oils are canola, cottonseed, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil. These oils are collectively known as seed oils or vegetable oils. They are highly processed, and highly inflammatory. Best to totally remove them from your diet.
Omega 6 is designed to be pro-inflammatory, its role is to aid in wound healing by increasing levels of inflammation and promoting blood clotting. This can be life-saving, but in excess, it promotes cardiovascular disease, cognitive issues, depression, obesity, diabetes, joint pain, and more. All things we already have an increased risk of at this age.
This leads me to my final avoid suggestion - processed foods. Processed foods are filled with the bad fats I just mentioned plus a host of artificial unpronounceable chemical Food Additives. Think artificial colour, artificial flavours, artificial preservatives. A good rule is if you don’t recognise an item on a food list and you can’t pronounce it it's probably bad. There is a helpful app called The Chemical Maze, which allows you to look up ingredients so you can learn about what you are putting into your body.
Food additives are known to cause hormonal imbalances, reduce your immunity, harm the nervous system, and increase your risk of cancer. The Environmental Working Group is working hard to remove the most toxic of these substances out of the food chain, but this takes time. It is far safer for you to educate yourself about these toxic substances so you can remove them now.
Now to the good stuff. It was soo hard to pick just 3, let me tell you there are so many fabulous foods out there that are good for you, especially at this stage of life. I hummed and hawed for so long but I eventually decided on these 3.
My first suggestion is water, are you really drinking enough? Your body needs adequate hydration in order to optimally function. Did you know water is needed to regulate body temperature? Yes, body temperature. Being hydrated also helps to lubricate your joints, regulate your bowel movements, move oxygen and nutrients around your body, hydrate your skin, maintain blood pressure, help with cellular waste removal and even cognition, just as little as a 1-2% loss in body fluids can reduce your ability to focus, learn and remember. So grab a glass of water now!
Before I move on I wanted to say that water quality is just as important if not more important than water quantity. Please please please filter your water. Please drink from glass or stainless steel and avoid plastic water bottles.
My second suggestion is protein. Too many women are eating protein-deficient diets, your protein requirements actually go up as we age. Protein breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids are the structural building blocks for every single cell in your body. They are needed to build blood cells, immune cells, muscles, organs, neurotransmitters, and even hormones. So you can see why I’m so passionate about eating protein, without enough we can experience hormonal imbalance, feel sad, as we haven’t produced enough neurotransmitters, experience muscle wastage - sarcopenia can start at this stage of life and its the reduction of muscle tissue which is being replaced by fat cells, if you want to slow this down you need adequate protein and weight-bearing exercise.
But once again quality is key. Ideally, you are eating grass-fed meats or wild-caught fish and not deep-fried caged chicken or burnt bbq meats.
I thought it appropriate to put Omega 3 in the number 3 slot. This essential fatty acid is not just needed for your menopausal transition, it is essential for health and is needed if you wish to age well.
Earlier I mentioned Omega 6 as being a pro-inflammatory and blood clot forming oil, well Omega 3 works in opposition to Omega 6 and is an anti-inflammatory oil, with blood-thinning qualities.
In regards to the menopausal transition Omega 3 may help reduce the frequency of hot flushes, it may reduce menstrual pain, it may help improve your ability to be well lubricated, it may help increase energy levels, it may improve your mood and cognition, it may play a role in weight management, joint health, pain reduction, and the list goes on but before we move on, a key concern for postmenopausal women is heart health. Omega 3 helps to maintain the elasticity of your arteries, reduces blood pressure, prevents blood clots, optimises cholesterol results, stabilises heart rhythm, and helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
If you need a helping hand sorting out your diet, please consider booking a consultation.