Menopause is a natural part of any woman’s life, not a disease as some might think. Women can now expect to live 20-30 years past the menopause. Quality of life is vital to enjoying these years, including abundant energy, good memory, skin and hair, as well as being able to have a good nights sleep, be free from aches and pains and have a good sex life.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not the only option out there to achieve this desired life quality. Treating menopause naturally through diet, herbs, supplements and exercise can make a huge difference to life quality.
Dietary Changes - Women in certain traditional cultures, such as Japan, who eat a plant based diet rich in phytoestrogens have fewer menopausal symptoms, than women eating a Western diet rich in processed foods, and carbohydrates. An average Japanese woman has a daily intake of 20-80mg of isoflavones per day. An Asian woman has an average intake of 45mg per day, and an American or British woman will generally consume 1-3mg of isoflavones per day. Therefore, a balanced daily diet rich in phytoestrogens is essential in supporting the body in making hormonal adjustments automatically. Phytoestrogens obtained from eating vegetables and fresh fruit is essential combined with ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, soya and beans.
Food supplements, to support the hormone system can also be helpful in making the transition, including:
- Vitamin E to reduce hot flushes and night sweats.
- Vitamin C – Prior to menopause, normally circulating oestrogen keeps blood vessels toned and prevents excessive vasodilation. Vitamin C taken when oestrogen levels drop help in tonifying blood vessels, thus lessening hot flushes. Vitamin C also helps to build collagen that gives skin elasticity, and supports bone health.
- B Vitamins – Women going through menopause often suffer from poor memory and concentration as well as irritability and tension. B vitamins address these issues.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega 3 fatty acids have an effect during menopause due to their anti-inflammatory action important for the heart, the brain, for bones and joints. Omega 3 fatty acids are concentrated in the retina (especially DHA). DHA in the brain seems to have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s by preventing plaque formation that is present in Alzheimer’s.
- Magnesium can help with several symptoms of the menopause including tension, irritability and other mood changes. Additionally magnesium helps to metabolise both calcium and vitamin D into the active form needed to ensure calcium absorption to keep bones and teeth healthy.
*Herbs – There are several herbs that can effectively address the symptoms of menopause and thus the transition phase, including, but not limited to Sage, Chaste berry, Peony and Hops.
- Sage – Research has found sage to be very effective in decreasing hot flushes by up to 65% within 6-8 weeks, as well as decreasing insomnia and irritability, physical and mental exhaustion by up to 47%.
- Hops – Helps with both hot flushes and night sweats.
- Peony – assists in decreasing menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, muscular spasm and irritability.
- Chaste berry – perhaps the most well known herb for treatment of menopausal symptoms including mood changes, insomnia, night sweats and migraines.
Exercise –. Starting and maintaining a consistent number of hours exercise on a weekly basis long before reaching menopause enables a woman’s body to adjust to the physical changes with ease, as a natural process.
In conclusion, the combination of a diet high in phytoestrogens, regular exercise, supplements and herbs minimizes aching joints and stiffness, slows the aging process, maintains energy levels and libido as well as controlling body weight naturally, therefore minimizing the likelihood of developing post menopausal osteoporosis.
* Herbs to be taken under supervision of a herbal practitioner or doctor.