Loss of hormones is a natural part of aging. The loss of estrogen as women work through menopause can be especially trying. Dietary changes can help.
Symptoms of lower estrogen levels include the loss of muscle tone, flexibility and strength. The accompanying hot flashes and eventual bone density loss make replacing lost estrogen more critical than ever.
While many women can take estrogen supplements, those with an increased risk for cancer in the female reproductive organs or heart disease may not be able to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, there are dietary changes women can make to up their phytoestrogen intake, reduce the fat in their diet and make menopause easier. In addition, there are physical activities women can participate in that will lessen the symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes.
Dietary Changes: Additions
Adding dried fruit, particularly apricots, prunes and dates is a great way to increase your intake of phytoestrogens. These fruits can be sliced up and added to salads as garnishes or sprinkled over cereal.
Sesame and flax seeds are also great sources of phytoestrogen and easy to add to salads. While sesame seeds are visible and a great source of a little crunch, flax seeds will disappear; be sure to sprinkle them over the salad after you’ve added your dressing.
Beans and chickpeas are another great addition for anyone struggling with menopausal symptoms. If you are currently eating a low fiber diet, add beans slowly and be sure to up your water intake. Beans are often accused of causing intestinal distress, particularly gas, but their real crime is that they are extremely high in fiber. This can be a jolt to the gut!
Dietary Changes: Replacements
Switching from cow’s milk to soy milk is a great way to increase your phytoestrogen intake. Be aware that some soy milk has added sugar; avoid sweetened soy milk if calories are a concern.
Other soy products, including tempeh and tofu, can be used to replace a meat course over the course of the week. A high fat, meat-centered diet can make menopausal symptoms much worse for some women; going vegetarian a few days a week can reduce your discomfort.
Also consider adding a high fiber, bran-based cereal to your daily routine. Again, if your diet is especially low in fiber, this cereal can be a jolt. If breakfast isn’t your favorite meal, try adding bran cereal to your yogurt for a mid-morning snack or having your cereal just before bed. Again, make a studied effort to increase your water intake if your diet has been low in fiber to keep your gut healthy.
Activity Changes Can Offset Changes In Hormones
The loss of hormones can make sleep difficult, particularly if hot flashes are keeping you awake. In addition, your muscles may feel more sluggish as your estrogen levels recede. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but it will probably help.
Breaking a good sweat every few days is an ideal way to stave off hot flashes. Get out and move your body through space. It will lift your spirits, reduce anxiety and frustration and loosen up tired muscles.
Hormone level changes are a natural, normal part of aging. Puberty, menopause and andropause can be disruptive and downright frustrating. However, with small dietary changes and additions, you can reduce some of the discomforts of these changes. Cut back on fats, increase your soy intake if possible, enjoy phytoestrogen rich foods and move your body!