For most women, menopause will begin in their late 40s or early 50s, lasting for a few years. While not all women will experience severe menopausal symptoms, nearly two-thirds will. The symptoms include:
• Mood swings
• Night sweats
• Hot flashes
If that wasn’t enough, menopausal women have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Because of the increased risks and predictable symptoms, most women look for relief from their doctors. However, not all women want to turn to prescriptions or OTC medicines to help combat symptoms.
Thankfully, there are several natural ways to reduce the severity of menopause.
1. Diet and Weight Management
Menopause leads to several hormonal changes that can weaken bones, meaning calcium and vitamin D are crucial nutrients during menopausal years. While there are many sources of both essential nutrients, some of the most beneficial are:
• Natural sunlight
• Leafy greens (Kale, spinach, collard greens)
• Calcium-fortified foods
• Oily fish
• Cod liver oil
While menopause commonly leads to weight gain because of hormonal changes, genetics, aging, and lifestyle choices, excess body fat around the waist increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Aside from reducing severe health risks, women who lose at least 10% of their body weight can eliminate uncomfortable menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. While it might not have any effect on hot flashes, several studies suggest the positive impact of consistent workouts, including:
• Improved energy
• Better sleep
• Decreased stress
• Healthier joints
• Improved metabolism
• Reduced risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, anxiety
A common side effect of menopause is dryness and dehydration; the assumed cause is decreasing estrogen levels. Menopausal women should consume at least eight to 12 glasses of water per day to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, dryness, and bloating.
Drinking enough water can also help with weight management and loss. When you drink enough water, you are more likely to feel fuller longer. Additionally, water can increase your metabolism.
4. Trigger Foods
Some women might be surprised to learn that certain foods can trigger adverse menopausal side effects, such as mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes. While there are several common triggers, including alcohol, caffeine, spicy and sugary foods, every woman is different.
It would be best if you kept a symptom diary to track your trigger foods. Write down everything you eat and how you feel after the meal. You want to keep track for several weeks to determine likely food triggers.
Phytoestrogens mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, meaning foods rich in these compounds can help balance hormones during menopause. Women in many Asian countries consume diets rich in phytoestrogens, and many experts credit that to why women in such countries rarely experience hot flashes.
The phytoestrogen content can vary by food and processing method. Some of the foods with the highest phytoestrogen content include:
• Soy products
• Sesame seeds
While the evidence is limited, many women stand by the use of natural supplements for treating menopausal symptoms. Some of the most popular supplements include:
• Black cohosh
• Dong Quai
• Evening primrose oil
Menopause is a natural part of life, but its symptoms can be challenging. By making a few lifestyle and dietary changes, you can curb the severity of symptoms. However, you should always consult your doctor before making any drastic life choices.