Are you experiencing menopausal symptoms? Are you finding it difficult to manage this life stage? Continue reading for some support regarding foods to increase in your diet to support your health. This post will cover the benefits, food sources and recommended intakes for phytoestrogens, omega 3’s, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K and fibre.
Isoflavones (a class of phytoestrogens) and phytoestrogens have been found to have estrogenic actions within the body which may assist in reducing breast cancer risk, reducing menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, support bone health and improve cholesterol and blood lipid profiles. They act similarly to estrogen due to their similar structure allowing the phytoestrogens to bind to our body’s estrogen receptors. These receptors are present in our bones, heart, brain, and liver which allows phytoestrogens to support various symptoms around the body. They act to either increase estrogenic effects or reduce estrogenic effects dependent on what the body requires via either down-regulating or activating the receptor.
- Soy products: organic non-GMO tofu and tempeh- try a tofu scramble recipe (fry up rumbled tofu and add spices, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach and enjoy on toast), or include grilled tofu/tempeh with rice, curries, salads or stir fries. A simple way to cook tofu is to fry in olive oil with tamari/soy sauce, nutritional yeast and miso paste.
- Edamame beans- steam or boil frozen bean pods for 5 minutes and pop out the beans to enjoy. There are also edamame bean pastas and noodles available for purchase.
- Miso paste – try including this in stir fry’s, curries and in salad dressings.
- Flax seeds/linseeds, sesame seeds
- Legumes- chickpeas, fava beans, peanuts, pistachios, lentils, mung beans
- Grains- rye/grain bread, oats, brown rice, barley
- Vegetables – potatoes, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage, alfalfa
Aim to consume 25-50mg day by including some of these foods daily. For example, ½ cup edamame beans provide 16mg of isoflavones and 85grams of tofu provides 19mg
Omega 3 fatty acids
Consuming omega 3’s can assist in reducing cardiovascular complications which are at an increased risk of occurring for menopausal women via their effects of reducing inflammation and platelet aggregation, as well as the effect of the omega 3’s on reducing hot flushes and improving mood and cognition. Omega 3’s support brain functioning, signalling and receptor functions to help manage psychological health and neurotransmitter modulation.
- Omega 3 supplements from algae oil
- Chia seeds
- Flaxseed oil
Aim to include 1-2 sources every day.
Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K- Bone health
These nutrients work together to support the health of our bones. When our estrogen levels decline, we are at risk of bone losses, fractures and injuries. Following menopause there is often increased inflammation, and reduced estrogen levels resulting in lower bone masses and mineral losses. Vitamin D and magnesium assist in regulating and absorbing calcium and support bone growth and modelling. Calcium supports bone mineral strength, density and growth and vitamin K can improve and support calcium usage and calcium balance whilst activating important factors for bone strength.
- Vitamin D- supplements, mushrooms (exposed to UV light), fortified plant-based milk, sunshine.
- Vitamin K- green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, broccoli), vegetables (pumpkin, carrots), dairy, fermented foods, eggs, algae, soybeans.
- Calcium- green leafy vegetables, tofu, tahini, almonds, fortified nut/soy milks
- Magnesium- oats, green leafy veggies (spinach, kale, collard greens), legumes, nuts, seeds, pumpkin, cashews, pepitas, chia seeds, brown rice, potatoes
Consuming adequate fibre supports the health of the gastrointestinal tract via increasing stool bulk, reducing constipation, and providing fuel for the beneficial bacteria of the microbiome whilst reducing cholesterol and lipids and supporting cardiovascular health. Fibre can assist menopausal symptoms via improving cardiovascular health and reducing complications, whilst improving body weight and overall health status.
Examples of Food sources:
- Fruits- apples, berries, banana, dates
- Vegetables- pumpkin, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, spinach, kale
- Legumes- chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans
- Grains- oats, barley, bran, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, quinoa
- Nuts and seeds- sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, cashews, walnuts
Aim for 25-50grams a day.
Book in a naturopathy consult if you’d like some extra herbal and nutritional support during this stage of your life.