Menopause can be a time for mystery for some women while to others it may not be such serious. Different women experience different menopause symptoms. While some experience hot flashes, others experience severe headaches and others night sweats and nausea among other symptoms.
Whichever the case, it is only a matter of knowing what foods to add to your diet and which ones to avoid to be able to manage the symptoms of menopause and lead a normal life. If you are suffering from the any of the symptoms or getting worried because you are approaching menopause age, observing a healthy diet that includes the following food strategies may help improve comfort during your menopausal years.
The kind of diet you take has direct effects on your hormones during menopause and for that reason; you need to watch what you take. There needs to be a hormonal balance in the body to ensure the various physiological processes in the body including menstrual cycle, metabolism, reproduction, and immune system among other body functions.
Menopause is characterized by hormonal imbalances which may result in some uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches, nausea and night sweats among others. Whatever you take in the day, therefore, directly affects the hormones in the body during the menopausal period thus worsening or getting rid of the symptoms.
Below is how your diet may affect your hormones and menopause
Being the primary sex hormone in females, estrogen helps in regulating menstruation as it prepares the uterus for implantation. During the days leading to menopause (perimenopause), this hormone’s levels start fluctuating hitting the deep once you hit your menopause. It is for this reason that you may start experiencing the severe symptoms of menopause including mood swings, night sweats, hot flushes and irregular menstruation.
Though this hormone may not be obtained directly from the foods you take, some diets contain phytoestrogens which serve the same purpose as estrogen and subsequently eliminating menopause symptoms.
The best diet during this period should comprise of foods that are highly rich in phytoestrogens to help relieve the symptoms as well as lower other menopause-related conditions. Among the foods that are rich in these crucial chemicals is soy. It contains a type of phytoestrogen known as isoflavones which play a crucial role in binding estrogen receptors in the body.
Research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals the health benefits of isoflavones in soy foods. The chemical compounds in this diet have been proven to help in getting rid of various conditions caused by menopause including addressing ischemic heart disease, eliminating hot flashes and enhancing cholesterol levels in the blood.
Another great source of phytoestrogens is flaxseed which contains a type of phytoestrogen known as lignins that helps to regulate hormone metabolism. These chemical compounds have the same effect on menopausal symptoms and other conditions as that of isoflavones.
• Glucagon and Insulin
Insulin is one hormone that is directly affected by the kind of food you take. Intake of more carbs results in direct absorption of glucose into the bloodstream triggering the release of insulin by the pancreas. The hormone then attaches to the molecules of glucose carrying them to various body cells to be used in generating energy.
On the other hand, Glucagon is also a hormone produced by the pancreas but has an opposite effect as compared to that of insulin. Starving your body for some time triggers the pancreas to release glucagon which also signals the conversion of glycogen into glucose by the liver. The glucose is then carried into the bloodstream to be used as a source of energy for various body cells until you take the next meal.
In short, the two processes are designed in a way to help keep steady your blood sugar levels. In the event you have insulin resistance, there is more production of insulin normally, but the various body parts like muscles and liver may not respond to it properly. To compensate for this, there will be more production of insulin by the pancreas to help glucose to be carried to the cells. When there is an insufficient amount of insulin production, it leads to accumulation of the excess blood sugars in the bloodstream which may ultimately result in diabetes!
During menopause, the experienced body changes result in an accumulation of belly fat which may increase the risk of insulin resistance and the effects highlighted above.
In order to have all body functions and processes optimal, you always need to maintain a controlled and well-planned diet. It is therefore advisable to avoid taking foods high in calorie content as this will cause a lot of weight gain and eventually increasing the risk of insulin resistance and the effects afterward.
Nutritional experts always recommend that you eat the calories your body can burn in a day. It is recommendable to take only complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, oats, and vegetables doing away with the likes of processed and refined carbs such as cookies, white sugar, and bread among others.
This is commonly known as the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is the hormone that aids the body in the fight or flight responses in reaction to danger or stress. This hormone is thus crucial for your survival at all times. The problem, however, is that very high levels of this hormone may result in high blood pressure, elevated stress levels and accumulation of fat, especially around the midsection.
Adding to the already stressed body as a result of menopause symptoms, more cortisol may result in some serious effects including excessive fat accumulation.
Some foods or drinks have been indicated to drastically increase secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Some of the foods/drinks to avoid in your diet include alcohol and caffeine especially if you are going through menopause. Avid such diets so that you can easily keep your cortisol under control.
Why a well-balanced diet is critical
A balanced diet is critical not only to women in their menopause stage but to everyone purposely to promote good health. It is important to check what you take so that you do not consume more calories than you can burn in a day. Opt for plenty of veggies and fruits, whole grains and cereals, lean protein sources and dairy products with low-fat content. Avoid junk food by all means as well as processed sugar, sodium and saturated fats.
During menopause, take more of soy and flaxseed products to help put the symptoms under control as well as lower the risks of some serious conditions like diabetes. Caffeine and alcohol should be limited by all means and generally make a few adjustments here and there regarding your diet will help a great deal to make a difference in your general health.
Diet directly affects menopausal symptoms. With a healthy diet, you can easily improve your symptoms of menopause within a short period. However, you have to understand that whatever works in one woman may not have the same effects on another. It all goes down to the level of hormonal imbalance in each case. The bottom line, however, remains that to help get rid of menopausal symptoms you need to get the right diet; take foods rich in calcium, iron, and fiber as well as eat more fruits and vegetables without forgetting on drinking plenty of water.
Kathy Mitchell is a Travel & Beauty Blogger. She likes to Go Out with her Friends, Travel, Swim and Practice Yoga. In her free time, you can find Kathy curled up Reading her Favorite Novel, or Writing in her Journal. She is regular Contributor at ConsumerHealthDigest. To know more about her follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.