Having recent qualified as a “Woman of a Certain Age” it seems only fitting that my first ever blog should be on the subject of the Menopause!
So, for all of us women over the age of 45, whether we’re peri or post-menopausal or just worried about what might be to come. Whether it’s hot flushes or night sweats that keep us awake at night. Maybe fatigue, weight gain or osteoporosis that play on our mind – the good news is, many of these symptoms can be managed through the right diet and exercise programme.
Here then are my Top 10 recommendations for ensuring we balance our hormones through good nutrition and an active lifestyle:
Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel or sardines) is an important source of Omega 3 – a great anti-inflammatory and widely recognised to help in the prevention of conditions such as heart disease. Fats are the structural precursors of our hormones and it is therefore important to ensure we have a good balance of Omegas 3 and 6 in our diet.
Avocado is a great source of Omega 6 and, combined with Omega 3, has many health benefits for female hormones.
Eggs are not only a great source of protein, but they also provide the body with Vitamin B12 which is essential during menopause in supporting our liver as it breaks down female hormones.
Oats are a soluble fibre which helps to reduce cholesterol. Soluble fibre dissolves in water helping to bind excess oestrogen before it is removed from the body.
Nuts – as well as being a good source of protein, are an insoluble fibre providing roughage to keep everything moving. The body requires a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre to support digestive health – essential for hormone balance.
Soya supports the body’s hormonal processes and is hugely beneficial to our health during and after menopause. However, the form of soya is important – the less processed the better. Look for whole soy beans such as Edamame (now available in many of the big supermarkets).
Flaxseed (a form of ground linseed) is a brilliant phyto-oestrogen which gently mimics the activity of natural oestrogens in the body and can help to reduce hot flushes. It has also been shown to have a beneficial effect in cases of breast and prostate cancer and in the prevention of diabetes. It can be sprinkled on cereal or over salads.
Garlic has many health benefits. It supports the body’s circulation, helps to reduce cholesterol and balances hormones. Crushing the garlic helps to release allicin the compound which provides all those potent medicinal properties.
Herbal teas (such as chamomile, ginseng, sage or raspberry leaf) have incredible benefits to the body.
Too much caffeine can exacerbate many hormonal symptoms – it can, for example, cause blood vessels to dilate and induce hot flushes. It stimulates cortisol and stresses the body’s adrenal glands which can mess with your blood sugar levels, affect your sleep and lead to fluctuations in energy.
Limiting our intake to one or two caffeinated drinks a day and replacing with herbal teas or water will help to hydrate the body and flush out unwanted toxins.
And finally – Exercise. Becoming a “Women of a Certain Age” doesn’t mean we have to let it all go! Ideally we should be incorporating three forms of exercise into our weekly schedule:
Regular weight bearing aerobic exercise, like Zumba, aerobics or my new favourite thing Clubbercise – will improve physical fitness and help to prevent the loss of bone density.
Resistance training (using toning bands or small hand weights) will improve muscle strength and conserve remaining bone tissue.
And including a yoga, pilates or tai chi class will help to improve balance, posture, core strength and mental wellbeing.
Whether you’re already suffering with symptoms of the menopause or just keen to keep them at bay, incorporating some or all of the above will definitely help to ensure we remain fit, healthy and strong into our next phase of life.