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Dreaded, annoying, tiring and sometimes embarrassing; the menopause is here and there is not much we can do about that... Or is there?
Actually there is, and yes, it's entirely natural and entirely within your control. There are many, many ways you can fight menopausal symptoms - and it won't be the first time you do it either. Guessed it? That's right...it's what you eat. The way we see it, good health often starts in the kitchen and by making some informed choices about your diet during menopause you could start feeling a whole lot better. So here are some tips on how to eat right during menopause and beat those unwanted hot flushes.
You've probably heard it before, but now is as good a time as any to start. If you're already tired from lack of sleep, or are experiencing a dip in energy levels in general, the rollercoaster ride of sugar highs and lows isn't going to help. By opting for healthier snacks, you can help maintain blood sugar levels and limit weight gain. Here's our tips on how to give up sugar.
To curb those cravings by helping you feel fuller for longer, include a small amount of complex carbohydrates such as grains and wholemeal bread into your diet. It is also thought that a high fibre diet may help to stabilise oestrogen levels which will ease your menopause symptoms.
It is a good idea to limit your intake of red meat (which is rich in saturated fat), but don't forget you still need to maintain a protein-rich diet. By choosing lean meats instead, like turkey and chicken, which contain mood-lifting tryptophan, you could help to regulate menopausal mood swings. Omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna and sardines, is another way to help with the mood swings and a seriously good reason to get into fish. See gransnetters' favourite fish and seafood recipes to get you started.
A little tip, if you cannot get fresh fish, remember to check the salt content in the tinned variety as it is often quite high. Too much salt in your diet could bring on hot flushes, night sweats and contribute to dry skin.
But if you're vegetarian, there's no need to feel like a turkey! Mood-boosting amino acids can also be found in foods such as tofu, cheese, eggs, pumpkin seeds, soya products, beans and lentils. Get inspiration from these delicious vegetarian recipes.
If you're not sleeping properly, limit the amount of caffeine you take in during the day. Have your last cup of tea or coffee long before bed; caffeine late into the day could be contributing to any insomnia you may already be experiencing. There are many ways you can improve how well you sleep during menopause.
If you must have your morning kick, consider swapping coffee or tea for antioxidant-rich matcha green tea for a slow release boost with less of the jitters.
Lastly, for those of you who are partial to a bar (or two) of dark chocolate, it's best to limit your intake or indulge earlier in the day so that the caffeine in it doesn't further disrupt your sleep.
There are many ways to include iron in your diet which do not involve red meat. Kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and romaine lettuce are full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It's no secret that including leafy green vegetables in your diet is one of the best ways to make sure you get the nutrients you need.
When we're tired, irritable or even just feeling a little down, it's frighteningly easy to reach for the biscuit tin. But try to resist - it won't make you feel any better. Your body's changing hormones may have thrown the diet rule book out the window, but eating right is crucial to feeling better during menopause. A low carb diet will keep the insidious 'middle-aged-spread' at bay and boost energy levels.
Falling levels of oestrogen means our bones are less protected, therefore it is impotant to do what you can to keep them strong. As well as staying active to strengthen your bones, making sure that you include calcium in your diet is key to eating right during menopause.
Great sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products (preferably low-fat), almonds and other nuts, figs, leafy green vegetables, sardines, tofu and soya beans.
Could soy be the answer?
Although limited research has been done on this subject, it is believed that isoflavones, found in soy products, could help lower cholesterol and ease hot flushes and night sweats. A study during the 1950s revealed that Japanese women reported significantly fewer menopausal symptoms than any other group of women - perhaps due to their diet, which is often rich in soy.
So, maybe it's time to hone those cooking skills at a local Japanese cooking class?
As with all dieting advice, consume in moderation and discuss further with your GP if you're unsure.
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