Whether you’re 35 or 55, it’s never too early to start planning for your future health. Using her 20 years of experience, practising as a nutritionist, Suzi shares her advice for eating your way through a symptom-free menopause.
By incorporating just eight foods and natural supplements you may not have considered before, you could avoid the very worst of the flushes, flashes and other symptoms that come with the menopause.
Try to eat more of these foods for a healthier more balanced body and hormones.
Nature’s HRT – golden flaxseeds
Foods rich in phytoestrogens – natural plant oestrogens – help women maintain hormonal balance as their body’s levels begin to fluctuate. They are exactly what you need to feed your body at this time, whether peri or post menopausal. The highest form of phytoestrogens and Omega 3 fatty acids, also essential for regulating hormones, is found in flaxseeds (and flaxseed oil).
How to use them
- Buy golden flaxseeds only, not the dark brown ones.
- Put a tablespoon of golden flaxseeds in a half pint glass and fill to the top with water last thing at night.
- The seeds are full of zinc as well as vitamin E and Omega 3 and phytoestrogens, all of which will release out of the seeds into the water.
- In the morning drink the water and the seeds, or the water on its own (don’t swallow the seeds if you have a bowel condition such as diverticulitis) or add the whole lot to a smoothie.
Seeds and Nuts
Omega 3 fatty acids help to produce the prostaglandin 3 series (PG3) which has been shown to reduce inflammation, blood pressure and heart disease, as well as improving cholesterol levels, hormone production and metabolism. It’s the single most important fatty acid for hormones, beautiful skin, health and ageing.
So, apart from the golden flaxseed – the highest in Omega 3 – make sure to eat walnuts, hazel nuts and pecans, and other seeds such as chia, sesame and hemp seeds. And if you’re worried about weight gain, don’t be. Omega 3 is called an essential fatty acid for a reason. It’s essential, your body uses it rather than laying it down as fat.
The human brain just hoovers up DHA, docasal hexaenoic acid – the most effective of the Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish. The brain needs these in high levels to avoid low serotonin levels, which can cause depression, SAD, moods and forgetfulness. So if you want to avoid irritability, depression and forgetfulness, make sure to eat plenty of oily fish. The highest in Omega are in this order:
- Fresh Tuna
The soya bean is made up of amino acids, minerals and isoflavones, which also belong to the family of phytoestrogens. Isoflavones have been found to help prevent cancer, heart disease and menopausal symptoms. But it has received some bad press if eaten in large amounts, so make sure to eat the form of soya they eat in Japan, where the word for the menopause doesn’t exist.
Japanese women only eat 7-8 grams of soya a day. They consume more sea vegetables which replaces the iodine levels that are depleted by soya. Their source of soya is less processed and they don’t consume much tofu or soya milk, choosing to mainly eat miso, tempeh or tamari – all of which are fermented and are better for you than processed soya and tofu.
Beans mean happy hormones
Beans, peas and lentils also contain compounds that can help your body produce natural progesterone. For happy hormones and high nutrition, they are a must for peri or full on menopause. Try to incorporate more of these into your eating plan:
- Aduki Beans
- Chick peas
- Pinto Beans
- Flageolet Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Green peas
Apart from your five – make that seven – portions of fruit and vegetables each day, there are other foods I would also recommend. They are, strictly speaking, supplements but they’re natural foods and are not synthetic, so are easily absorbed by your body. I have tried them all for various menopausal symptoms as have many of my clients in the past, with great success. These are some of my favourites, although there are many other suggestions out there for you to consider.
Many women have less trouble from menopausal symptoms if they take Spirulina – a blue-green algae. You may feel calmer, more energetic and in balance as well as having less bother from hot flushes. The reason is that Spirulina contains large amounts of gamma-linolenic, another fatty acid that is converted into prostaglandins, the precursors to hormones. It has successfully helped with PMS, painful breasts, and raging hormones. It is a good source of protein, which is essential for vegetarians and vegans, as well as iron, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium and chlorophyll.
Goji berries, sometimes known as wolfberries, come from wild bushes that grow in China. Goji means wolf in Chinese. They are known as “happy” berries because it is said that a handful of these berries will keep you jolly for the rest of the day. Not only that, but these little red, raisin like fruits are associated with longevity and, unlike ginseng, large amounts can be eaten continuously throughout the day. They may help you with menopausal symptoms such as depression, poor sleep and immunity and they’re great for fluctuating blood sugar levels.
Maca powder, from South America, is rich in all the minerals you need for optimum health, as well as B vitamins. But most importantly, for an ageing body and ageing hormone production, maca also contains four alkaloids that have been shown, in research, to nourish the endocrine glands and therefore your hormone producing glands. It is useful for treating fatigue as well as helping with libido and maintaining hormonal balance. I call it Peruvian marching powder as it has helped so many of my clients in the past!
Symptoms Maca may help
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
The foods mentioned in this article are all ones I have used myself and recommended to many others. But please check with your doctor or another health professional if you need further advice or want to try the many herbs and supplements recommended for the menopause.
Blogger and founder of Alternative Ageing, Suzi Grant, offers health, fashion and lifestyle advice to women Over 50. She is also an author of three books and a qualified nutritionist.Last modified: May 24, 2021