Self-help techniques to help you through menopausal symptoms
Menopause is a natural stage of a woman’s life. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when the woman is healthy and her body is in balance she will experience minimal menopausal symptoms; however, when the woman is out of balance (for example: feeling stressed, in poor health or constantly tired) the menopausal symptoms can be quite intense. Menopausal symptoms are the symptoms that some women experience when transitioning from the previous reproductive stage to the menopause stage of life. Menopausal symptoms commonly experienced may include varying intensities of hot flushes, insomnia, deep body aches, mood swings, headaches, dryness, fatigue, night sweating, low libido and palpitations.
Some easy things to include in your life that may help to ease these menopause symptoms:
General tips for menopause
- Include some lifestyle changes that help you to rebalance your body internally (eg meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques, regular exercise)
- Acupuncture sessions may be able to help to manage stress.
- Traditional Chinese medicine to improve general energy levels.
- Reduce stress (eg. meditation, relaxation techniques, exercise)
- Reduce foods that have warm or hot qualities according to TCM dietary therapy principles (eg chilli, curry spices, cardamon, cinnamon, dried ginger)
- Reduce foods that have cold qualities according to TCM dietary therapy principles (eg frozen foods, foods straight out of the fridge)
- Increase leafy green vegetables
- Consider adding foods that contain phystoestrogens & lignans that are plant based estrogens. Some foods to include are soybeans, legumes, lentils, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, garlic and broccoli.
To improve sleep:
- Try having a 20-minute nap before 3pm during the day, as this can help to ease tiredness and improve general sleep patterns at night.
- Avoid any stimulants after 3pm (this includes chocolate, sugar, coffee, alcohol)
- Avoid having late nights, which can help by allowing the body to rest and recuperate for a longer period overnight and may ease the deep body aches.
- If suffering from insomnia, try having a bedtime routine whereby you stop all stimulating activities (like TV, social media, computers, checking emails, etc) 2 hours before bedtime, allowing time to wind down and relax prior to bedtime.
Foods to help ease menopausal symptoms
Menopause symptoms affect women in completely different ways. The most common symptoms can include hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, impairment of memory and fatigue. Long-term consequences may include a decline in libido, osteoporosis, heart disease and even dementia. They are all linked to reduced oestrogen levels in the body.
Dietary therapy is a way in which a woman can be in control and be aware of things that can possibly be done to ease the menopause symptoms she experiences.
EAT MORE PHYTOESTROGENS Phyto or plant oestrogens found in certain foods act in a similar way to oestrogen, and they may help in keeping hormones a little more in balance. Increase your intake of phyto-oestrogens by eating more: soya milk and soya flour, linseeds, tofu, tempeh and miso, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, celery, rhubarb and green beans
BONE HEALTH Women going through menopause should increase their intake of food sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to maintain integrity of the skeleton. In addition, high amounts of phosphorous – found in red meat, processed foods and fizzy drinks – should be minimised.
DEPRESSION AND IRRITABILITY Ensure you eat enough protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan. You can find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats and legumes. Tryptophan helps manufacture the neurotransmitter serotonin “the feel good chemical”.
DRY SKIN Legumes, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and almonds contain vitamin E, zinc and calcium. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin and normalise hormone levels.
TIREDNESS Avoid snacking on sugary foods – it creates a sharp rise in your blood glucose level which is then may be followed by a sharp dip which leaves you feeling tired and drained. Choose fresh fruit with a few nuts instead.
HOT FLUSHES Certain foods are likely to trigger or worsen hot flushes and night sweats. For instance, avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night – they’re notorious for setting off hot flushes.