Tips for How to Minimise the Symptoms of Menopause
Are you dreading going through menopause? Are you currently battling menopause symptoms? Stop dreading it and try minimising the symptoms naturally with the following tips.
Put up a fight with phytoestrogens. Minimise menopausal symptoms with a diet filled with phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are hormone-like compounds that come from plants. Phytoestrogens have a weakly oestrogenic effect. Recent studies have highlighted their possible role in decreasing the severity of menopause symptoms. What’s even more remarkable is their potential to prevent conditions that are related to decreased levels of the hormone oestrogen.
|Menopausal symptoms believed to be lessened by intake of phytoestrogens
||Menopause related medical conditions believed to be prevented by phytoestrogens
Muscle and joint pain
Less common – headaches, forgetfulness, sleeping difficulties, changes in hair, skin and nails, digestive problems, bladder disturbances
Hormone-dependent cancers like endometrial and breast cancers
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) – the number one cause of sickness and death in men and women worldwide (including New Zealand and Australia)
Examples of CVD believed to be prevented by phytoestrogens include:
- Ischemic heart disease (heart attack)
- Cerebrovascular disease (stroke)
- Peripheral vascular disease (pain in the legs when walking)
- Heart failure
Note: Men, don’t feel left out. Phytoestrogens may also help to prevent prostate cancer.
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Most studies have centred on four types of phytoestrogens: lignans, isoflavones, coumestans and flavones. You can experience the benefits of phytoestrogens by taking a supplements or from your diet.
Avoid xenoestrogens. What?! Another type of oestrogen out there? Relax. Xenoestrogens are chemicals from the outside that make their way into our bodies and disrupt the normal balance of hormones.
Exposure to these chemicals worsens your menopausal symptoms by increasing the imbalance among your hormones. Avoid heating plastic containers, use completely natural cleaning and personal care products and eat organic produce where possible to minimise exposure to these xenoestrogens.
Go herbal on hot flashes (or flushes). Herbs can also alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. Hot flashes are the most common symptoms of women undergoing menopause. They’re described as having a hot feeling or sensation. The sensation is usually accompanied by sweating and a flushed, erythematous (red) face. Just a reminder, before you take any herbal products, be sure to check them with your healthcare practitioner. Herbal products can interact with prescription and non-prescription medications. If you’re planning to go under the knife (surgery), please stop taking your herbal supplements two weeks before your scheduled operation.
Here are some noteworthy herbs you may want to consider:
- 1. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemesa, Actaea racemosa). Black cohosh is another well-known herb which can help to relieve hot flashes. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has designated black cohosh as possessing properties which may provide relief from hot flashes for the first six months of menopause. Better act fast then, huh?
- 2. Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus). This herb is commonly used for its beneficial effects with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. However research also suggests that chaste tree can help with PMS-like symptoms including depressed moods, anxiety and cravings experienced in peri-menopause.
- 3. Red clover (Trifolium pratense). In a recent study, women who took extracts of red clover experienced a reduction in hot flash frequency compared to those who took placebos (sugar pills). They were able to work comfortably during the day and sleep better at night. What’s even more interesting is that the hormonal status and bone loss (osteoporosis) of the women included in the study stabilised or improved.
Don’t be trigger-happy. Kidding aside, avoid consuming or taking substances which can trigger your menopausal symptoms. The usual suspects are as follows:
- Spicy foods. These foods are notorious for triggering menopausal symptoms especially hot flashes. You may want to stay away from spicy Mexican or Indian dishes for a while. They can really make you perspire or flush a lot…even if you’re not menopausal.
- Hot beverages
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Hot baths and hot showers
- Tropical weather. Visiting a tropical country while you’re experiencing menopause may be a disaster waiting to happen. Try visiting the Alps instead.
- Smoking. Our dear old friendly habit comes back to haunt us, even when we’re at our worst.
Menopausal symptom triggers can vary from person to person. Be observant and make a mental note (or jot down) what your triggers are.
Don’t forget the basics. Going through menopause doesn’t require your doctor (or an IPad app) to remind you to never forget the basics. Trying to keep yourself healthy while going through menopause is still undoubtedly the most essential part of your armamentarium against it. Good nutrition will almost always get you through menopause smoothly. Load up on the following, will you?
- Minerals – especially calcium, iron and magnesium
- Fibre – eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits (preferably those that are organic)
- Water – hydration is important regardless if you’re experiencing menopause or not
- A healthy diet low in sugars, starches and rich in quality protein and fats
Note: Going through menopause doesn’t permit you to shovel anything you like into your mouth. Avoid processed foods and choose your fats wisely. Checkout our article on fats to know more.
Exercise. You neglected this one didn’t you? Exercise stabilises your circulation, improves your mood and releases your anxieties and stress about menopause. Not to mention it keeps you in shape.
Try mixing these types of exercises up: resistance exercise, cardiovascular exercise and stretching exercises.
- Berek, Jonathan S., and Emil Novak. Berek & Novak’s Gynaecology. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012. Print.
- Krapp, Kristine M., and Jacqueline L. Longe. The Gale Encyclopaedia of Alternative Medicine. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Print.
- Smith, Kathy, and Robert Miller. Kathy Smith’s Moving through Menopause: The Complete Program for Exercise, Nutrition, and Total Wellness. New York, NY: Warner Books, 2002. Print.
- Lee, John R., and Virginia Hopkins. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1996. Print.