Top ways to combat the symptoms of menopause
The menopause can be a menace but it’s something that all women will go through. The peri-menopause and menopause happen for most women between mid 40s and late 50s. There are a range of symptoms, caused mainly by lower levels of oestrogen, including weight gain, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, mood swings, hot flashes, brittle bones and night sweats, as well as muscles cramps and join aches.
While HRT is seen as a good solution by some women, others are keen to try other ways of coping with the symptoms of menopause. Here are some suggested remedies.
Increase intake of Vitamin D and Calcium
During menopause, there’s an increased risk of osteoporosis because the bones weaken due to hormonal changes. Vitamin D and calcium are both essential for healthy bones. Increasing your intake of vitamin D and calcium-rich foods can help to keep bones strong.
Fortunately, it’s easy to increase your calcium intake by eating calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans, tofu and other calcium-fortified foods.
On the other hand, sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to the sun. Unfortunately, your skin gets less efficient at making vitamin D as you age.
Too much sun exposure can also cause premature ageing and possibly even skin cancer. You can get more vitamin D through dietary sources like eggs and fatty fish or take a vitamin D supplement each day.
Maintain a healthy weight
Many women gain weight due to the hormonal changes of menopause. Unfortunately, gaining excess weight increases the risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Excess body weight can also play a part in your menopausal symptoms. According to studies, women who maintain a healthy weight had fewer night sweats and hot flashes.
I’s also important to try to maintain muscles, which reduce as we get older. Weight training and resistance training are a good idea in our 40s and 50s, and older.
Although there’s not enough evidence to prove that exercise can reduce hot flashes or night sweats, it can help with your menopause symptoms in other ways. First, exercise improves your energy levels and boosts your metabolism to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Metabolism also keeps your bones and joints healthy and strong, which helps defend against osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Exercise is also a great way to maintain your physical health and reduce your chances of issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, which are more common after menopause.
And finally, exercising regularly will help you sleep better and improve your mental outlook by reducing stress and anxiety. In fact, one study showed that exercising for only three hours per week improved both mental and physical health, as well as the quality of life for women after menopause.
Avoid common trigger foods and drink
Some foods and drinks can trigger night sweats, hot flashes, and even mood swings, especially if you consume them in the evening before bed. For many women, alcohol, caffeine and spicy or sugary foods are common triggers.
However, triggers will vary from person to person. Try tracking everything you eat in a food diary. Whenever you notice menopause symptoms, make note of what foods you ate recently. This will help you avoid the foods that trigger certain symptoms.
A diet lower in “beige” foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta, can help to prevent bloating and also maintain a lower weight.
Consume more phytoestrogen-rich foods
Phytoestrogens naturally occur in certain plants and, it’s claimed, they can help to balance your hormones by mimicking oestrogen in the body. In Asian countries, such as Japan, where phytoestrogen foods are a mainstay in the diet, women are said to be less affected by hot flushes during menopause.
Beans, sesame seeds, flaxseeds and soy are all rich in phytoestrogen. For the most benefit, choose foods that aren’t overly processed. For example, choose edamame over tofu or supplements because real food sources are always more easily used by the body.
Studies show that post-menopausal women who consume soy regularly have fewer and less severe hot flushes and night sweats, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Acupuncture has been proven to be an effective way to alleviate hot flushes and relieve insomnia, as well as reducing stress, depression and anxiety that can come with the hormonal changes of menopause. According to women’s health experts at the Yinova Center, acupuncture is also beneficial for balancing hormones, which may help to further reduce the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
Supplements to try
There are a variety of supplements that may reduce the symptoms of menopause, but the results vary from person to person. Some, like phytoestrogens, are more effective if they are consumed through whole food sources. However, there are a few others that are certainly worth trying to see if they work for you.
- Black cohosh: Black cohosh may reduce or alleviate hot flashes during menopause.
- Flaxseed oil: Flax seeds contain lignans, which can help to balance female hormones.
- Wild yam: Wild yam may act in a similar way to oestrogen and progesterone in the body. Some women find it to be a good replacement for hormone therapy.
- Ginseng: Although ginseng has not been shown to improve menopause symptoms like hot flashes, it can help in other areas. It’s an effective supplement for boosting your mood and improving sleep.
- Magnesium: Some women find that magnesium tablets or spray can help with tight muscles, sore joints and cramps.
- CBD oil: Some women find that taking CBD oils or capsules can help with symptoms such as anxiety, stress, depression and muscles cramps and spasms.
Remember, menopause is not an illness, but a natural transition in a woman’s life. Although the symptoms can be uncomfortable for some, they can often be managed through diet and lifestyle changes. Symptoms vary for every woman, but the tips listed above can help you manage them if you prefer no to use HRT or you can’t have HRT due to other health issues.