Meno Relief & Your Diet
During natural menopause, the body’s estrogen and progesterone hormone production decreases. This causes irregular menstrual periods that eventually stop. Typically, menopause starts around age 50. However, it may often start earlier or later.
For women with cancer, menopause may begin earlier. For example, some treatments cause the ovaries to stop working. This is called premature menopause.
Menopause and cancer risk
Two main factors are linked with increased cancer risk after menopause:
Increased exposure to hormones, such as estrogen
Increased number of ovulations
Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases eggs. Women who menstruate for many years have many ovulations, which increases the risk of uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers. This includes women who: Begin menstruating before age 12 / Start menopause after age 55
Combined hormone therapy and cancer risk
Combined hormone therapy may help relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and osteoporosis. Combined hormone therapy is also called postmenopausal hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The National Institutes of Health conducts the Women’s Health Initiative study. This study has found that HRT increases the risk of certain conditions.
Women’s Health Initiative study
The study found that women taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) have a higher risk of these conditions:
Breast cancer Heart attack Stroke Blood clots
Basic Dietary Guidelines for Menopause
Plant-based foods that have isoflavones (plant estrogens) work in the body like a weak form of estrogen. For this reason, soy may help relieve menopause symptoms, although research results are unclear. Some may help lower cholesterol levels and have been suggested to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Isoflavones can be found in foods such as tofu and soy milk.
Calcium. If you think you need to take a supplement to get enough calcium, check with your doctor first.
Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. People ages 51 to 70 should get 600 IU each day. Those over 70 should get 800 IU daily. More than 4,000 IU of vitamin D each day is not recommended, because it may harm the kidneys and weaken bones.
That’s according to a new study from France published in Current Developments in Nutrition.
The study examined food intake in 65,574 postmenopausal women. Information on diet and health status was collected between 1993 and 2014.
The researchers found that having a healthy plant-based diet was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer while an unhealthy plant-based diet was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Eat a well-rounded diet rich calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Increase your consumption of fruits, greens, colorful vegetables, and dairy products—such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. The decline in estrogen as women go through menopause obviously increases their risk for certain things like osteoporosis, so getting foods rich in calcium is very important,
Consume omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that omega-3s can decrease the frequency of hot flashes and the intensity of night sweats. “There are times when you can supplement omega-3s, but we really encourage you to get their omega-3s first through food, which includes fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna and vegetarian sources like flax seeds and chia seeds.
Add foods containing plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens. Broccoli, cauliflower, dark berries, chickpeas, and soybeans can help mimic estrogen and reduce some menopausal symptoms.
The following foods can help strengthen bones and relieve menopause symptoms:
Dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and kale
Fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna
Flax and chia seeds
Broccoli and cauliflower
Blueberries and other dark berries
Dark fruits like plums
Chickpeas and other legumes
Soybeans or foods like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk
4 types of foods that can make menopause worse
Diet can impact a woman’s menopause symptoms in both a positive and negative way
Processed foods: “The rule of thumb is to eat as close to the natural state as possible. “If it comes in a bag or plastic wrapper, try to avoid those kinds of foods because most likely those are very processed foods.”
Refined carbohydrates: For instance, white rice, pasta, and potatoes, are linked to spikes in blood sugar and an increase in insulin resistance—and hot flashes. Instead, opt for whole grains such as brown rice. Cut back on sugary foods like cookies, cakes, and candy.
Alcohol: It can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. “If you’re drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day—more than five ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer—that can not only make hot flashes worse but make you prone to the mood swings and irritability that can happen with menopause
Spicy foods: They aren’t necessarily bad for you, but they can bring on hot flashes for some, so women may try cutting back on spicy foods if they notice worsening symptoms after eating them.
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