These plant compounds (isoflavones, flavones, lignans and coumestans) have a weak effect on oestrogen receptors and may help alleviate those symptoms associated with menopause in approximately 1/3 of women. Some of the richest forms of these compounds are linseed, soy bean and tofu and should be consumed on most days to get the full benefit. Healthy gut bacteria are required to convert these plant compounds into their active form in the gut so make sure your microbiome is well balanced too. There are products available that provide phytoestrogens for menopause. Get advice on which is the best product for you.
Menopausal symptoms can be worse if women are also experiencing stress. Lavender oil helps alleviate stress and anxiety through the olfactory system but it also works well when taken internally. In a 2006 study (1), 100 menopausal women were given lavender oil to smell for 20mins twice a day for 12 weeks and found that lavender aromatherapy significantly reduced hot flushes. Taken internally, lavender oil has been found to be superior to placebo at reducing symptoms of anxiety and improving sleep without causing sedation (2). Interestingly, lavender also contains some plant compounds which have a mild oestrogen-like effect on the body.
With menopause comes sensitivity to carbohydrates as the effectiveness of insulin drops. Replacing some of your carbohydrates with quality, lean protein at every meal will help reduce the requirement for insulin while still providing you with the energy you need between meals. That steady supply of energy will also help combat sugar cravings and fatigue. Too much protein and you may find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Seek advice on the best sources of protein for you and the amounts you need.
If you’re heading for menopause already overweight, your risk for weight gain post-menopause is increased and with it, your risk of metabolic disease. Some genetic factors may be placing you at a greater risk of obesity too. Making healthy habits your new normal before you reach menopause is ideal but it’s never too late to get in shape. There are many diets and all of them work… if you stick to them. Consider consulting with a practitioner who is familiar with all of the possible approaches, can identify any contributing genetic factors and help tailor a diet and lifestyle plan to your unique make-up and needs.
Aside from the benefits to heart health, brain health, weight management and blood sugar control, weight bearing exercise protects bone density which is at risk in post-menopausal women. The bones respond to weight-bearing in the same way your muscles respond to resistance – they get the message they’re needed and they maintain their strength. Exercise also maintains muscle and promotes balance which reduces your risk of falls. Walking, stair climbing, hiking, jogging and dancing are all examples of weight-bearing activities.
- Kazemzadeh et al, 2016, ‘Effect of lavender aromatherapy on menopause hot flushing: A crossover randomized clinical trial’, Journal of the Chinese Medical Association, vol.79(9) 489-4921. Kazemzadeh et al, 2016, ‘Effect of lavender aromatherapy on menopause hot flushing: A crossover randomized clinical trial’, Journal of the Chinese Medical Association, vol.79(9) 489-4922.
- Moller et al, 2017,’Efficacy of Silexan in subthreshold anxiety: meta-analysis of randomised, placebo-controlled trials’ European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, vol.269 183-193.