Menopause, a lot has been said and a lot written and yet this phase of a women’s life is always seen with apprehension if not dread. The fear of osteoporosis, anxiety and mood swings, muscle fatigue, decreasing libido and ofcourse skin and hair problems. Everyone wonders how they would be able to steer their life through all that. Combating these changes often seems like a daunting task and though it’s easier to say, “Let’s cross the bridge when we come to it”, being prepared will serve us well.
“Falling levels of estrogen!” Women, please understand that this is not a disability nor an illness. Like rest of the hormones, this is hormone is made in your ovaries and a small amount by the adrenal glands just above your kidneys. As the reproductive cycle of a women draws to its close, estrogen stops being produced by the ovaries, but the adrenal glands continue to do so. All they need is a little help from you to supplement the work that estrogen was doing.
1. Osteoporosis ; We must increase our intake of calcium based foods to maintain bone density. Include fruits such as bananas, guavas, milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, soya products and leafy greens such as spinach, kale and parsley to supplement calcium and add the benefits of iron too. The intake of calcium becomes better when it is supplemented by magnesium. Magnesium is found in most of the foods above as well as in nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts and cashews. It is also found in seeds such as flaxseed, linseed and sunflower seeds. To maintain good bone health it is imperative that one does some form of weight bearing exercise too.
2. Muscle fatigue ; Muscle fatigue is eased by the intake of magnesium and potassium. Both these minerals can be found in banana, sweet potatoes and whole grains. It is essential to fill up the reserves everyday. Magnesium also balances out the intake of calcium. If calcium is not properly absorbed it cause kidney stones or affect cardio-vascular health, the first sign of it is the feeling of fatigue as the heart has to pump harder.
3. Anxiety and Mood swings ; The amino acid tryptophan is responsible for the hormone serotonin(feel good hormone) being produced. For tryptophan to be absorbed through the blood-brain barrier carbs are needed. Foods that have the correct combination of this are eggs, nuts and seeds, cheese, fish, oats, lentils and beans.
4. Decreased libido ; As estrogen decreases there is a marked decrease in libido but that is no cause of worry if you supplement it with Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6 that help the sex hormones. These vitamins create the right environment for depreciating estrogen not to affect the physicality of performance. For Vitamin A have grapefruit, leafy greens, mango, sweet potato, tomato, and watermelon. For Vitamin B1 have bananas, fish, avocados, pork, baked potatoes, cantaloupe, cottage cheese, and tomatoes. Good sources for Vitamin B6 are chicken, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, nuts and seeds, brown rice, soya beans, greens and potatoes.
5. Skin health and hair fall. ; Vitamin A is called the moisturizing vitamin, it keeps the mucus membranes in your body well lubricated and Vitamin E boosts collagen production and maintains good skin health. It has antioxidant properties that nourish hair follicles for repair good growth. The sources for both these vitamins are very similar walnuts, eggs, sweet potato, spinach, asparagus, broccoli and fish. Vitamin E is also found in olive oil, sunflower seeds.
As we see, most of the foods are something easily available to us and can be incorporated into our daily diets. If we are aware of these increased requirements of our body we can nourish it to good health. But apart from the nutritional requirement it is essential that we also exercise regularly to increase our metabolism which in turn will maintain good cardiovascular health and therefore a feeling of well-being.