One of those things that some women will dread as they get older is the M word – otherwise known as menopause.
Menopause is a natural transition for a woman and something seemingly you can’t avoid. It’s confirmed twelve months after you’ve experienced your last period, but some may unfortunately feel the transition and its associated symptoms for several years.
While menopause symptoms are well documented and often unpleasant it can also increase your risk of certain diseases which adds to the dismay many feel as they head towards that older age bracket.
One of the things that is within your control is your diet and it’s no surprise that what you eat or consume can help reduce symptoms and ease the transition.
So, what foods and supplements can help? And what changes do occur during menopause?
Changes that happen
During the time you transition to menopause and beyond, the hormone oestrogen will begin to decline and with this, your normal cycle or patterns of oestrogen and progesterone will be disrupted.
As your levels begin to decline this can impact your metabolism – which is well documented with many women blaming menopause for their sudden bulge. These changes can also affect someone’s cholesterol levels and how their body digests carbohydrates.
Many women will also experience other symptoms such as hot flashes and will notice a drastic change in their sleep.
Furthermore, these hormone changes can lead to bone density declining which could increase the risk of fractures.
While this all sounds like doom and gloom, there are many easy ways to try and alleviate these symptoms – making changes in your diet is just one.
What foods or supplements will help?
There is lots of evidence that what you consume, and your diet can help those who are suffering in particular with poor sleep, hot flashes and low bone density.
Dairy is known for making bones strong – so topping up your diet with dairy products is helpful when a woman’s risk of fractures increases due to the decline in oestrogen in menopause.
Dairy can also help if you are suffering from sleeplessness, studies have found that foods high in the amino acid glycine – such as milk and cheese, for example, can promote a better night’s kip in menopausal women.
What is a healthy fat? They come in all forms but ones such as omega-3 fatty acids may benefit women experiencing menopause.
A review study found that in over 400 women those that consumed omega-3 supplements decreased their frequency of experiencing hot flashes and the level of severity of their night sweats.
Instead of supplements if you want to eat foods high in healthy fats turn to fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, anchovies and seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Not only do foods help reduce menopause symptoms certain supplements can help too – CBD being one of them.
In your body there is an endocannabinoid system, this is a collection of cell receptors, called cannabinoid receptors, in the brain, other organs, and tissues throughout the body.
This system is very important when it comes to menopause, and CBD can affect the way that it works. In theory, this means that CBD could influence the effects of menopause on the body.
Cannabinoid receptors are involved in:
- Mood regulation.
- The functioning of the immune system.
- Fertility and reproduction.
- Temperature regulation.
Theories are that a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system can lead to various health conditions. By influencing the function of the endocannabinoid system, supplements just like CBD may help treat these conditions.
There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the female reproductive system, and menopause can disrupt the endocannabinoid system. So, it makes sense that taking CBD in and around the menopause could reduce some the suffering you might experience.
When a woman sees a decline in oestrogen it can also be linked to decreased muscle mass and bone strength.
For this reason, anyone going through menopause should consume more protein. This can be found in many foods such as eggs, meat, fish and legumes and dairy products too. You can also turn to protein powders and add these to your smoothies, shakes or when you bake.
The bottom line
Your diet can really play a huge part in helping you on the rollercoaster that is menopause.
A whole-foods diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein and dairy products may reduce menopause symptoms alongside some additional health and wellbeing supplements.
Although it’s good to up the things that will help, it’s also good to note the things that need avoiding. You might want to limit the added sugars, processed carbs, alcohol, caffeine and high-sodium or spicey foods too. These little changes may go a long way to help make this life-transition that bit more bearable.