Mar 4, 2011


Eating - and avoiding - certain types of foods can make the menopause a lot more bearable. Here's some trigger foods to watch out for:

You may be lucky and sail through the menopause with no problems at all, but a lot of women are affected by some of the symptoms - hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, low libido, thinning bones, insomnia and forgetfulness. 

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been a lifeline for many women; however studies have shown links between HRT with increased rates of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes, so alternatives have been sought. 

Many of the symptoms that are associated with the menopause are linked with a drop in oestrogen and progesterone (hormone) levels. For example, oestrogen helps lift our mood so, when levels drop, we may feel depressed. No one yet understands exactly what causes hot flushes but it has been observed that women in Japan have far fewer menopausal symptoms and one theory is that this is because their diet includes a lot of soya. 

So what can you do? Whether or not you decide to take HRT, following the guidelines below won't hurt – and will assist in the pursuit of an all-round healthy lifestyle. 



Stop eating foods that are likely to trigger or worsen hot flushes and night sweats. For instance, avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol and chocolate, especially at night - they're notorious for setting off hot flushes. 


Avoid snacking on sugary foods – all too often a sharp rise in your blood glucose level may be followed by a sharp dip and leave you feeling tired and drained. Choose fresh fruit instead. 


Many people associate the menopause with weight gain but, as we get older, we need fewer calories. Eating a bit less sounds a simplistic solution but it will help. Eat more starchy complex carbohydrates, such as whole meal pasta, bread and rice, as they will help boost your metabolism so that you burn body fat more quickly. 


Eat more complex carbohydrates as they will also help to increase serotonin levels, which in turn will help control appetite and make you feel better in yourself. Other useful strategies to help you feel less irritable are to eat breakfast and to eat little and often to balance your blood sugar.


Avoid fizzy drinks as they often contain phosphates, which can prevent your body taking up magnesium and calcium - important for bone strength.You can help increase the absorption of calcium by taking half a tablespoon each of cider vinegar and honey in a cupful of warm water up to three times a day. And do eat more alkaline foods - vegetables, fruits, seeds, almonds, brazil nuts and yogurt - to help prevent calcium reserves being leached. 

As well as considering a calcium supplement, other vitamins and minerals that are vital for bone formation and/or to help calcium absorption are: magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. Choose a supplement with a combination of these and they will be in the right proportion for maximum effect. Weight-bearing exercise is vital, too. 

Eat more phyto-oestrogens. Phyto or plant oestrogens are natural chemicals found in food, which act in the body in a similar way to oestrogen but help keep our natural hormones in balance - they block the uptake of excess oestrogen and raise low levels when needed. They are thought to offer protection against breast cancer and heart disease. 


Soya milk and soya flour



Pumpkin seeds

Sesame seeds

Sunflower seeds

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