Many of the symptoms of menopause are similar to those of adrenal stress: nervous disorders, severe depression, irritability, fatigue, and unpredictable mood swings. Most women go through menopause between the age of forty and fifty-five and experience a period of change lasting 6 months to 2 years. Many disagreeable symptoms of menopause are a direct result of poor eating habits, stressful living, and lack of exercise which can be corrected with good nutrition, exercise, and life-style changes.
The three most unpleasant symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and emotional instability. Other uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause include insomnia, depression, stiffening joints, sore breasts, osteoporosis, dry skin, and abdominal congestion (constipation, gas and bloating).
The following are suggestions for foods that provide the essential vitamins and minerals specifically needed during menopausal years.
Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems. It also helps prevent hot flashes. Calcium in easily digestible form is found in seaweeds (such as hizike, kelp, wakame), yogurt, and other milk products, almonds, sesame seeds, and sesame products, and in most dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, broccoli, turnip greens, and kale. There are many herbs that provide high amounts of calcium to the diet: comfrey, oat straw, nettle, dandelion greens, mustard greens, horsetail, chickweed, amaranth, and watercress.
An adequate intake of iron keeps the blood oxygen-rich. Iron is found in spinach, beets, and beet greens, seaweeds, apricots, whole grains, wheat germ, bran, cereal (especially oats), raisins, tofu, molasses, sunflower seeds, and eggs. It is highly concentrated in many herbs such as parsley, watercress, nettle, comfrey, alfalfa, yellow dock root, and horsetail. Additional iron can be taken in the form of liquid Floradix Iron with Herbs or NatureWorks Herbal Iron available at natural food stores.
Vitamin E is both a wonderful nutrient for the reproductive system and a specific remedy for hot flashes, muscle cramps, and vaginal dryness. It provides energy to the system by oxygenating cells. Vitamin E is found in whole grains, cold pressed oils, dark-green leafy vegetables, bee pollen and some nuts. A vitamin E supplement is often recommended during menopause. A suggested dose is 400-600 I.U. daily. PLEASE NOTE: for women with diabetes, rheumatic heart or high blood pressure, the recommended dose is no more than 50-150 I.U. daily. Purchase d-alpha and mixed tocopherol vitamin E (from natural sources) rather than the synthetic dl-alpha variety.
Bee Pollen is a concentration of nearly all known nutrients. One or two teaspoonfuls a day of fresh bee pollen will lift the spirits and create greater energy levels. Some people suffer allergic reactions to bee pollen so take just a few grains the first time to test for allergic reactions.
Spirulina is a wonder food for women in menopause years not only because of its high-quality protein, but because of its concentration of B vitamins and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The B vitamins help build a strong nervous system and help with the balancing of mood swings and depression. GLA is excellent for preventing degenerative diseases such as osteoprorsis and arthritis. Powder form is recommended for quality and economy. A recommended amount would be 2 tablespoons of powder (or 6 tablets) daily. An added benefit is that it gives one a feeling of fullness and lessens the desire to eat.
This is one of the most wonderful herbs known for the female system and is used for treating almost every gynecological ailment. It is a powerful uterine tonic and hormone regulator. During menopause Dong Quai helps tone and feed the reproductive organs and make for an easier hormonal transition. The suggested daily dose is 2 tablets twice daily or 1/8 inch of the whole root eaten twice daily. In tincture form, the recommended dose is ¼ teaspoon mixed in tea or water drunk twice daily.
Ginseng helps the body overcome fatigue and stress and is excellent for long-term deficiencies and imbalances. For women going through menopause it serves as a rejuvenator of the entire system and as a hormonal balancer. One of its great values during menopause is its ability to produce a steady flow of grounded, well-balanced energy and aid in the elimination of mood swings and depression. The suggested dose is 2 tablets twice daily or ¼ teaspoon in warm water (or tea) twice daily; or a 1/8 inch piece of the whole rot chewed each day.
Foods to Avoid:
Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, white flour, refined, processed foods, and salt.
Therapies to Minimize Hot Flashes
The following suggestions have significantly diminished hot flashes for many women:
- Switch to a grain-based diet and eliminate all sugars and sugar-rich foods including fruit and fruit juice
- Concentrate on foods rich in calcium and vitamin E. Take 400-600 I.U. daily. Except for women with diabetes, rheumatic heart or high blood pressure, the recommended dose is no more than 50-150 I.U. daily
- Take ginseng daily
- Drink several cups of sage tea daily
- Hot Flash Tea (see appendix)
Dealing with Water Retention
The solution is NOT to limit your fluid intake. Water is a natural diuretic, essential to cellular health and necessary in correcting the problem of water retention.
- Avoid salty foods.
- Drink 2 quarts of water and/or tea daily.
- Unsweetened cranberry juice is a refreshing tonic for the kidneys and urinary system.
- Take a good quality calcium/magnesium supplement each day and/or drink the Menopause High-Calcium Tea. (see appendix)
- Exercise enough to work up a sweat and get your circulatory system moving. Hot and cold baths are excellent to improve circulation.