On this week’s Health & Lifestyle segment, I’ve got the lovely Melanie McGrice, one of Australia’s best known dietitians and a highly respected author and health presenter on nutrition and dietary issues, to share how we can decrease symptoms of menopause.
Did you know that women consuming a traditional Asian diet experience fewer menopausal symptoms than women consuming a Western diet? Why? The secret is their phytoestrogen intake.
Menopause marks the cessation of menstruation and the finale of your reproductive life. Perimenopause is generally considered the time period approximately 1 year after your last menstrual cycle and may begin in women as early as age 35. Perimenopause can be a somewhat uncomfortable and even frightening time for women who are unprepared for the changes that accompany it. Although every woman is different and each will be able to tell you their individual journey, it is normal during this stage to experience symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, mood swings, headaches and weight gain as your body adjusts to a tornado of hormonal changes. Your friends and/or medical professionals may talk to you about medications that can help alleviate symptoms, but what you eat can really make a difference to your health and how you feel.
Low oestrogen levels are the basis of most menopausal symptoms. Oestrogen is a hormone that impacts a wide range of functions in a women’s body including (but not limited to) our cholesterol levels, telling our body when to ovulate (release eggs) and even how much calcium is needed in our bloodstream.
Phytoestrogens are naturally-occurring compounds found in plants, and thus plant foods, that are similar to oestrogen (although they have a weaker effect). It has been reported that Asian women who traditionally consume a high intake of phytoestrogens (~50mg/day) experience fewer menopausal symptoms than Western women who generally have diets low in phytoestrogens (~1.3mg/day). When Asian women adopt a Western diet, the associated menopausal problems are also adopted.
There are 3 main types of phytoestrogens:
To increase your phytoestrogen intake, try these suggestions:
Making some simple dietary changes can increase your phytoestrogen intake and really make a difference to how you feel.
Thank you Melanie! Some really great information there. I guess like every other thing that can affect our body and health, food is a pretty important component that can help target those issues. Stay tuned next week, where Melanie will share her recipe of Chickpea and Tomoto curry.