Menopause is a transition stage that roughly occurs around 50 yrs old once your menstration ceases after 12months .
The stage before is called peri menopause which can have many of the symptoms whilst having a regular cycle but more insomnia, mood changes ,weight gain etc .
Declining oestrogen levels are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and metabolic disorders.
Diet and lifestyle modifications, and maintaining a healthy body weight and composition can reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease in the post-menopausal period.
Population studies demonstrate that a Western style diet that includes high energy intake, excess carbohydrates and trans- and saturated fats can
be associated with an earlier age of menopause, an increase in long term complications such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and a higher severity of menopausal symptoms.
Specific foods that have demonstrated therapeutic effects on menopausal symptoms such as phyto-oestrogens and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) should be encouraged, while foods that can exacerbate vasomotor symptoms and sleep disturbance such as spicy food, caffeine and alcohol should be avoided.
A diet rich in phyto-oestrogens has been shown specifically to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Phyto-oestrogens are plant compounds with oestrogen-like properties and include three major classes: isoflavones
(found in soybeans); lignans (a constituent of dietary fibre e.g. flaxseeds) and coumestans (found in sprouted beans).
The chemical structures of isoflavones and lignans are similar to that of oestradiol, and these compounds appear to exert an oestrogenic or anti-oestrogenic effect depending on the circulating oestrogen level.
Phyto-oestrogens are commonly used for the relief of menopausal symptoms, and accumulating evidence suggests soy isoflavones and lignans in flaxseed may also have positive effects on bone and cardiovascular health in menopausal women.
Flaxseeds can reduce hot flush frequency and intensity,and exert cardiovascular and metabolic benefits by improving lipid profiles and glycaemic control.
A comprehensive meta-analysis of 19 clinical trials found that soy isoflavones were significantly more effective than placebo in reducing both the frequency and severity of hot flashes,although effects may vary between individuals due to variations in gut microbiota which are required to convert soy isoflavones into more biologically active metabolites.Soy isoflavones may reduce cardiovascular risk in menopausal women by exerting positive effects on
lipid profile, endothelial function, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity.
Increased soy consumption may exert beneficial effects on bone health by inhibiting bone resorption and stimulating bone formation and population
studies indicate that the incidence of osteoporosis is lower in countries with higher soy consumption.
There has been much speculation about the risk of breast cancer from phyto- oestrogens in soy products, however, data is now highly supportive of soy foods for breast cancer survivors and for reducing breast cancer risk.
Epidemiological studies demonstrate soy intake was associated with statistically significant reductions in breast cancer recurrence and with decreased mortality.
Peri- and postmenopausal women with greater levels of physical activity report improvements in mental and physical aspects of quality of life, regardless of weight loss.
Numerous clinical trials and population studies have demonstrated that exercise can improve psychological, vasomotor and somatic symptoms during the menopausal transition, and reduce risk factors of chronic disease.
Physical activity is important for maintenance of weight and healthy body composition in menopausal women, and for the prevention of osteoporosis. Regular exercise can increase and sustain bone density and decrease the risk of fracture.
Three specific types of exercise are helpful for prevention of osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy body composition:
• high-impact exercise (e.g. jogging, running and brisk walking) to improve bone density
• weight or resistance training to strengthen and increase muscle mass, and increase balance and co-ordination
• stretching and balancing to improve mobility and balance, and minimise falls
Naturopathic medicines can help breeze through these stages of hormonal imbalance .