Need help to deal with the symptoms of menopause? Read on…
Saturday Fare spoke to a couple of gynecologists and came up with a set of natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause
It is common to gain weight during menopause. This can be due to a combination of changing hormones, aging, lifestyle and genetics. Gaining excess body fat, especially around the waist, increases the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, body weight may affect menopause symptoms. To be precise, being overweight can aggravate hot flashes and night sweats.
Slug: Health Column
Menopause begins in the late 40s or early 50s and usually lasts for a few years. During this time, at least two-thirds of women experience symptoms of menopause. These include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, irritability and a general tiredness. In addition, menopausal women are more vulnerable to a slew of diseases, including osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Many people turn to natural supplements and remedies for relief.
Saturday Fare spoke to a couple of gynecologists and came up with a set of natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Hormonal changes during menopause can cause bones to weaken, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. "Calcium and Vitamin D are linked to good bone health, so it is important to have foods that are fortified with these two nutrients," says Vernika Gupta, a gynecologist who practices at a leading private hospital of the city. Many foods are calcium-rich, including dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese.
Green, leafy vegetables like spinach too have a lot of calcium. "Calcium is also abundant in tofu, beans, sardines and other foods," adds Dr Gupta.
Sunlight is your main source of vitamin D, since your skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as you get older, your skin gets less efficient at making it. "Therefore if you are not out in the sun much or if you cover up your skin; taking a supplement or increasing food sources of vitamin D may be important," advises Dr Gupta.
It is common to gain weight during menopause. "This can be due to a combination of changing hormones, aging, lifestyle and genetics. Gaining excess body fat, especially around the waist, increases the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, body weight may affect menopause symptoms. To be precise, being overweight can aggravate hot flashes and night sweats," says Dr Tripti Sharan, a well known gynecologist based in Delhi.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to prevent a number of menopause symptoms. "Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and can help you feel full, so they are great for weight loss and weight maintenance," shares Dr Sharan. She goes on to add, "Certain foods may trigger hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. These include caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are sugary or spicy."
Both doctors are in agreement that menopausal woman need to exercise regularly as exercise results in improved energy and metabolism, healthier joints and bones, decreased stress and better sleep.
"Menopausal women have a higher risk for heart diseases and several studies have shown that regular exercise may help to reduce this risk," says Dr Gupta.
Moreover, it is advisable to eat more foods that are high in phytoestrogens. "Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Therefore, they may help to balance hormones as menopause leads to a depletion of estrogens," says Dr Sharan.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans and soy products, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans etc.
During menopause, dryness is often an issue. This is likely caused by the decrease in estrogen levels.
"Drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day can help with these symptoms. Drinking water can also reduce the bloating that can occur with hormonal changes," says Dr Gupta.
One should substantially reduce the intake of refined sugar and processed foods. "A diet high in refined carbs and sugar can cause sharp fluctuations in blood sugar, making you feel tired and irritable. This may worsen the physical and mental symptoms of menopause. Diets high in processed foods may also affect bone health, especially if these foods are replacing the nutrients you need from a daily balanced diet," Dr Sharan cautions.
Eating regular meals is of utmost importance during menopause. Both doctors agree that irregular eating may aggravate certain symptoms of menopause and make weight management more difficult. It is also recommended to eat protein-rich foods. "Regularly eating protein throughout the day can help prevent the loss of lean muscle mass that occurs with age. Foods rich in protein include meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and dairy," states Dr Gupta.
Many people take natural supplements to manage menopause related symptoms. "While natural supplements may help treat menopause symptoms, more evidence is needed about their safety and effectiveness as well as accurate dosages and combinations," states Dr Sharan.
One frequently asked question from menopausal woman is -How can you stop hot flashes quickly?
"Stick to breathable clothing and bedding to help reduce or stop hot flashes. Stress and certain foods, such as spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol can also trigger hot flashes. Keep a journal to find out what may make your hot flashes worse and work to avoid those triggers whenever possible. With some trial and error, you will find your rhythm and what works for you," says Dr Gupta.
It is important to remember that menopause is not an illness. It is just a natural transition of a woman's life. "Therefore do utilize the tips here to make your time during menopause and beyond easier and more comfortable," sums Dr Sharan.
Also Read: Five tips for tackling headaches during your period