What are the best food choice for menopause?
Like the women in my private community you’re moving along well in life – fairly healthy then come to the hot flashes, the exhaustion, and the inability to sleep like you were before.
Will your body ever go back to normal?
“A woman’s health is a barometer of her environment. It is molded and shaped according to her evolution in the womb and the social, cultural, and ecological environment of her childhood. It is created out of her relationships, her joys and traumas. It is grounded in the quality of her nutrition and the purity of the water and air around her. At each stage of a woman’s life cycle, because of her innate connection to birth, creativity, and the protection of the human race, a woman’s health represents a sentinel of subtle and great disturbances in our culture and our environment. “ – Dr. Hyman
Before we get into the deep subject of hormones I’d like to quickly introduce myself. I’m Stephanie Dodier Clinical Nutritionist and Intuitive Eating expert. I lead a community of women over 40 so menopause is a common topic for us.I developed the Going Beyond The Food Method™️ a proprietary methodology that helps women make peace with food and their body. Chronic dieter and body shy women become intuitive eater & body confident women that live a full life unconditionally. If a life without dieting is something that sounds interesting I’d love to meet you.
Back to the topic of hormones. Let’s first understand what exactly are hormones and we have a great analogy for this mysterious system.
Hormones are simply messengers
Our hormones bodies are always talking to us through body messages. Our hormones are similar to our postal system – our brain. It perceives something from our environment that needs to be addressed internally, so it sends a message via our hormones to communicate the action to be taken by our body organs, system, tissue, other hormones etc.
Our nutritional environment along with our emotions, thoughts, relationships and many other component can create balance and restore the optimal function of our hormones.
Certain element in our environment can be perceived by our body as a stressor including certain foods. When these stressors enter our bodies they will activate a sequences of protective actions via our hormones, processed like inflammation, anxiety, muscle tension, etc…
3 tips to implement right away
There are things that we can do right now to improve your food choice for menopause along with other lifestyle improvement such as stress reduction to take control of the menopausal symptoms. The good news…It’s not that hard! Here are three things to implement right away.
1. Increase vegetable to 5-6 cups / day
Adding more vegetables to your diet is an immediate aid in eating a good diet for menopause. Increase fiber specifically! This will have a wonderful detoxing effect on the body.
Focus on cruciferous vegetables – aiming for one cup per day. These are things like cauliflower, cress, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, etc. Cruciferous veggies are rich in zinc, vitamins A, B, C, D, E and in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which are great for supporting detoxification and indole-3-carbinol, something that is especially beneficial to estrogen metabolism.
We also want to increase our intake of phytoestrogen. Think flax, sesame, leafy greens, alfalfa, licorice root, and legumes. Phytoestrogens are dietary estrogens because they’re not created by the human body – these are things that we get from the food we eat. Phytoestrogens are amazing because they have the ability both to mimic estrogen and to act as an opposing force to estrogen. That is behaving in the opposite way of biological estrogen. These important nutrients affect the body because they attach to estrogen receptors and prevent more powerful estrogen produced by your body from getting in there and complicating things.
2. Increase omega 3 intake
What’s great about these is that for people on very low fat, low cholesterol diets, there tends to be a lower level of hormones because the building blocks to make hormones are provided by dietary fat. One of them is cholesterol. Low cholesterol and therefore low production of hormones can lead to an increase in our hormonal imbalance. Extremely low fat is not a great diet for menopause.
Focus on getting a lot of healthy fats such as butter & olive oil, and maintain that focus on increasing consumption of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 has been shown to promote the pathways for healthy metabolism of estrogen.
Another amazing benefit of omega 3 is their ability to decrease inflammation in our body and tissue. Inflammation is one of the elements of our environment that can negatively impact our hormonal balance.
Include 2-3 serving of cold water fish weekly – think wild salmon, sardines, and herring. Also look to moving to pasteurize beef and lamb from conventional products, as the ratio of omega 3 is significantly higher.
3. Reduce intake of sugar
When we’re tackling nutrition for menopause, a key place to look at is sugar. We have heard it more than once…excess of sugar is not so great for us.
When we consume too much sugar and processed carbohydrate at once, our body will release insulin hormones into our blood as a means of stabilizing and lowering our blood sugar. The problem is when it overproduce insulin in most cases. Because we over consume carbohydrates and it has a negative impact on SHBG hormone, which helps metabolize estrogen and progesterone. Years of eating a higher level of carbohydrate may lead us something called insulin sensitivity.
Look for forms of added sugar in your diet, like sugar in your coffee. Then move to change breakfast from a high processed carbohydrate to higher in protein and healthy fats. For lunch and dinner, focus on getting your 4-6 cups of vegetables. By increasing the consumption of vegetables ( Tip #1) automatically there will be less room on the plate, thus making it easier to reduce those carbohydrates.
Best food choices for menopause
Choosing food is such a powerful agent in reducing symptoms peri-menopause and menopause! By simply nourishing our bodies with what they need to properly metabolize our hormones. We can gain our balance back and let go of your new muffin top and the hot flashes that have been preventing us from sleeping.
What’s more important is to realize that we are NOT defective, We are wonderfully designed and sensitive beings that can thrive and be healthy with attention to a few natural laws of biology. We should with dietary changes before moving on to medication.
The next step for you is to read the next article in this series about menopause and sleep issue here and how to stop hot flashes .