Menopause refers to the period in a woman’s life when her menstrual period stops. This is a natural process that usually occurs between 45 and 50 years. Menopause occurs because the ovaries stop producing the two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Medically, a woman is said to have reached menopause when she has not had a period for up to one year. The stage that precedes menopause is referred to as the premenopausal stage.
It is important to note that changes associated with menopause may start a couple of years prior to this phase. Some of the most common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia and loss of concentration. Some women will also experience dryness of the vagina that is sometimes accompanied by low libido (reduced desire for sex). The duration, frequency and severity of these symptoms varies from one woman to another. On average, however, these symptoms last around five years from the date of the last period. It helps to see a doctor if the symptoms become extremely severe, but the good news is that there are a handful of home remedies that can help ease the symptoms of menopause.
1. Dietary Changes:
Time Required: Varies depending on specific foods.
What You Need: Foods that help manage the symptoms of menopause.
One of the most important aspects when using home remedies for the natural treatment of menopause symptoms is to make dietary changes so as to increase the foods that make the symptoms more manageable. As a general guide, your diet should include lots of healthy fats, essential minerals and generally foods that help keep the hormonal levels in check. Snacking up on these foods not only helps with your caloric intake, it is also key in maintaining weight.
The scientific explanation behind this is that a gradual decrease in muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism. Consequently, there is need for reduced calories to help, both with weight maintenance and calorie intake. Listed below are some of the food groups from which you should prepare a balanced diet to provide relief from the symptoms of menopause.
Food groups to include when making dietary changes:
- Organic Fruits and Fresh Vegetables
It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy gut. Not only do these fruits and veggies contain antioxidants and phytosterols that keep the hormonal system in check, they are also an excellent way to curb appetite. Think of this as a filling food option without all the calories. Lastly, increase your veggie intake to slow down the process of aging. Foods in this category include bananas, citrus fruits, watermelon, apples and kiwi fruits among others. Vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts are a great addition to such a diet.
- High-Fiber Foods
Fiber plays a key role in maintaining the health of the digestive and cardiovascular systems. Different studies show that foods that are rich in fiber might have a role to play in ensuring the balance of the estrogen hormone in menopausal women. What’s more, foods that are rich in finer lead to less weight gain, improve levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol in the body and prevent constipation. Foods that are a high source of fiber include legumes, grains, avocado, nuts, seeds and vegetables.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
These are a family of vegetables that include cabbage, broccoli and kale, all of which are ideal for managing menopause symptoms. This family of veggies stands out because it is known to be rich in indole-3-carbinol which helps balance the levels of estrogen in the body. In addition to this, they are rich in fiber and essential nutrients that keep the cardiovascular system in check.
- Pytoestrogen Foods
Phytoestrogen Foods, just as the name suggests, are foods whose active ingredients mimic the action of estrogen in the body, without any adverse side effects. A number of studies show that these foods are actually beneficial for menopausal women because they not only reduce the risk of cancer, they are also extremely effective in managing symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Hot flushes are a set of symptoms that create increasingly uncomfortable waves of heat that course through the body. Overall, these foods are recommended because they make the effects of low estrogen levels in the body less drastic, and therefore the symptoms are easier to manage.
- Healthy Fats, preferably alongside Cold-Pressed Oils
One of the recommended food groups for menopausal women is healthy fats. It is important to make mention that while fats have a greater caloric value than carbohydrates or proteins do, they must be present in the body because they constitute the building blocks of hormones. Note however, that these do not include all kinds of fats, and that the recommended type of fat is that which is healthy and unrefined. Vitamin E for example, is very helpful in managing the production of estrogen in the body. Other excellent sources of healthy fats include coconut milk, nuts, seafood, extra virgin coconut oil as well as palm oil.
2. Reduce Foods That Trigger the Symptoms:
Time Required: Varies depending on the food to be prepared.
What You Need: Reduce foods that make the symptoms worse.
Just as it is important to make dietary changes to include foods that make symptoms manageable, it is also recommended that you reduce the intake of foods which trigger menopause symptoms mentioned above. As expected, foods in this category are those that have the opposite effect of those mentioned in the first set of remedies above. Listed below are the food groups to avoid at all costs if you would like to keep reduce the severity and frequency of the menopause symptoms.
Foods to Avoid:
- Processed Foods
This comes first and foremost for the simple reason that processed foods have a high concentration of preservatives, increased sugar levels and often, high levels of sodium. These chemical additives not only worsen the hormonal imbalance, they also predispose menopausal women to weight gain. Increased weight poses a challenge during menopause because naturally, it increases the occurrence of night sweats and hot flushes. Avoid processed foods at all costs.
- Increased Sugar Intake
In line with avoiding processed foods, it will do a menopausal woman no good in increasing her sugar intake, whether in beverages or foods. Sugar, when in high levels in the body, leads to drastic weight gain, makes hormonal imbalances worse, increases inflammation in the body as well as upsets the female reproductive system. Excellent options to sugar, but whose levels must still be kept in check, include raw organic honey and stevia.
- Fizzy Drinks
Fizzy drinks are in the list of foods to avoid because, they not only contain high amounts of added sugar, they also work to strip the body of its calcium reserves. This makes the symptoms of menopause far worse, and may even lead to complications such as bone density loss.
- Alcohol and Cigarettes
This is a no brainier for the simple reason that both alcohol and cigarettes act as stimulants, and are known to distort hormonal balance in the body. Alcohol is well known for its ability to worsen hot flushes and, over time, cause weight gain. Cigarettes on the other hand, are rich in nicotine which stimulates the body and predisposes menopausal women to more frequent hot flashes. If need be, it helps to join a support group in order to kick the addiction.
- Caffeinated Beverages
Caffeinated beverages, most popularly, tea and coffee are best avoided by menopausal women. These beverages are rich in caffeine which easily aggravates hot flushes especially when drank while hot. If possible, you may completely cut out on the caffeine supply, but this may lead to withdrawal effects. For this reason, it helps to limit your daily intake to 200 milligrams daily. For menopausal women who are caffeine addicts, cutting back gradually is a far better approach than going cold turkey. This helps prevent headaches, fatigue and irritability that accompanies withdrawal symptoms.
- Conventional Meat
Another food group that is best avoided to help deal with the symptoms of menopause is conventional meat. This is because such meat, when sourced from farm-raised chicken, may contain high levels of hormones. When ingested, this increases inflammation, intensifies the hot flushes and generally makes menopause hard to deal with. While it may not always be possible to ascertain the type of meat, it is advisable to go for organic farm produce to avoid the added hormones.
Time Required: Varies depending on the selected routine
What You Need: Varied exercise routines and appropriate workout gear
One of the best ways to manage the symptoms of menopause is to engage in physical activity. Exercise not only helps to keep one in the right mental frame, it is also beneficial for improving one’s overall health. It is a great tool to lose weight which often, left unchecked, makes menopause harder to deal with. A study conducted to determine the impact of exercise on menopausal women found that those who worked out for an hour five days a week were able to report a reduction in the frequency of hot flushes and night sweats.
Tips to use exercise in the management of menopausal symptoms:
- As a general guide, aim for at least half an hour of moderate physical activity daily. This translates to between 2.5 and 3 hours each week.
- Exercise routines that are easy to add to your daily planner include yoga, swimming, brisk walking, jogging and rope skipping.
4. Black Cohosh:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: 80 mgs Black cohosh supplements.
Black Cohosh is a popular herbal remedy recommended for the management of menopause symptoms. this drug is sourced from the roots of the Cimicfuga Rascemosa, a plant that is native to the Appalachian mountains. Typically, the root is harvested and cleaned before been dried and used to make capsules or tinctures. The root has a distinctively pungent smell which is perhaps what makes it necessary to manufacture its capsules.
The herb’s active ingredients reduce the frequency of hot flushes and help improve the quality of sleep. This is very important as women in the menopausal stage find it difficult to get a good night’s rest owing to the nature of the other symptoms, such as night sweats and mood disorders. Additionally, black cohosh is also known to reduce hormonal imbalances, and this eases the strain that menopause places on the body.
- For this remedy, take 80 milligrams once or twice daily to manage the symptoms.
- Remember, you may need to check with your doctor especially if you are already on some medication to prevent adverse drug interactions.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1/4 Cup of flaxseeds, a grinder and food to add to
Flaxseeds are a simple remedy to incorporate into home remedies for menopause, thanks to the high concentration of phytoestrogens present. As mentioned above, phytoestrogens are important because while they mimic the action of estrogen in the body, their effects are not as drastic and this helps the body cope with the low hormonal levels. Most notably, this remedy is beneficial for the management of vaginal dryness, hot flushes and night sweats. Follow the simple directions below to prepare this remedy.
- Transfer the flaxseeds to a grinder and grind to get coarse powder.
- Take 4 teaspoons of this powder and add to your preferred meal, whether it is a bowl of smoothie, breakfast cereal or yogurt.
In addition to the dietary changes and home remedies, there are a handful of practical measures that menopausal women can use to get relief from the accompanying symptoms. These include wearing comfortable loose-fitting clothes, avoiding spicy foods as these are known to increase heat as well as getting as much rest whenever possible. Practising relaxation techniques and mindful exercises is also a great way of easing the tension during menopause. Lastly, if any of the symptoms feel troublesome, seek medical advice for treatment options for this natural phase, menopause.