After menopause some symptoms hang on or come back to visit. I’ve recently received some questions about why this happens and what can be done to alleviate these symptoms. Here are some useful practices that can bring balance back to your life.
Extra adipose (fat) tissue can act as an endocrine organ, producing more estrogen in the body, keeping it in circulation even when ovarian production stops at menopause. So, regular exercise and eating mindfully help to reduce that extra fat around your mid section, and then your body is not encouraged to overproduce those hormones. This is especially important for women because studies show that weight gain is a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause. An American Cancer Society study found that women who gained 20–30 pounds after age twenty were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer after menopause than women who gained no more than 5 pounds. Keep that fat away!
Include phytoestrogens in your diet. Phytoestrogens are plant-based and they help balance hormones naturally. These are found in soy foods, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, bean sprouts, and legumes such as garbanzo beans and peas. Now I know the press has been full of controversy about soy products, but as I posted last year, I have not found any scientific studies showing that eating food containing soy is harmful. I believe that a small amount of soy is beneficial. However, I do not recommend soy supplements as there has not been enough research as to the effects of taking these compounds in such high doses. Traditional soy foods such as tofu, edamame, tempeh, and miso are a part of my own diet.
Eat your broccoli. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is metabolized in the body to produce diindolylmethane (DIM). Both of these substances help to regulate estrogen and, BONUS, they’ve been shown to have some anti-cancer effects, particularly for breast cancer.
The Ayurvedic herb shatavari has been used for centuries to reduce menopausal hot flashes, irritability and mood swings. Part of the asparagus family, the herb can have a cooling effect for those of us who are “too hot” for our own comfort! As with any herb, though, if you have allergies, please go slowly at first to make sure that you don’t have an allergic reaction.
As little as fifteen minutes of deep breathing twice daily has been shown, in several clinical trials, to decrease hot flashes and night sweats as well as improve your sense of well-being. Additionally, meditation helps decrease stress hormones and allows the body to return to homeostasis as well as calm the mind. As far back as the 1970’s Dr. Richard Benson proved the “relaxation response” reduced hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. My own research has shown that his relaxation response is exactly the Yoga Nidra, or deep relaxation, that is done at the end of most Yoga classes. This guided meditation has been shown through many scientific studies to benefit over-all health and well being in addition to reducing hot flashes.
If you are interested in a fabulous program of menopause symptom relief, personally designed for you, click this link for my coaching program.
Best of Health,