Simple food changes can make the menopause a much smoother and safer time in life. These same changes can get rid of the rising epidemic of pre-menopause. The menopause is a natural part of life but for many women can prove a very difficult time which lays the foundation for future illness and disease.
The pre-menopause is a totally unnatural part of life where women in their 30’s and early 40’s are often experiencing severe menopausal type symptoms like mood swings, worsening PMS, irregular monthly cycles, low sex drive, bloating, depression, unexplained weight gain and other complications such as fibroids, endometriosis, multiple miscarriages and infertility.
Our lifestyle, culture and environment are at the root cause of these problems and one of the most powerful ways to avoid them is by making changes to your food choices and your nutrition. I cannot stress enough to you how these simple changes can make a huge difference. Sometimes in looking for the miracle we over-look the real miracle which in this case is food and nutrition.
An Epidemic of Excess Estrogens
The most common root cause of problems with the menopause and the creation of the pre-menopause is an excess of the hormone estrogen, also called ‘estrogen dominance’. There are two fundamental causes of this….one – the body either takes in or creates excess estrogen and two – that the body fails to make enough of the hormone progesterone to balance your estrogen level.
Either of these situations (and you often can have both together!!) will leave you with ‘estrogen dominance’. Ironically enough, in the case of the menopause, even though your overall estrogen levels are falling you can still be estrogen dominant!
This estrogen dominance creates many of the hardships of the menopause and all the problems of the pre-menopause. You can of course confirm this by having appropriate blood tests done where you should ideally have 3 hormones measured – two estrogens……estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2) and also your progesterone. Make sure you talk to your G.P. about getting these done and make sure all 3 are tested to get the full picture. However very often enough symptoms can give you a good clue that something is wrong and that lifestyle changes would be helpful.
So if you would to avoid unnecessary hardship and stay younger, fitter, healthier and fertile for longer than read on. If you are already caught with these problems then the good news is that it is never too late to change and get great benefits but you need to be a little patient and wait 3 months before judging the results! Here are 4 of the most important food changes you can make to have much better hormone balance.
Excess Body-fat Is A Hormone Factory!
One of the best things you can do to keep your hormones in better balance is to control your weight. Body-fat actually manufactures estrogens, so excess fat will raise your estrogen level. Excess estrogen in turn makes it easier for you to gain more fat which results in even more estrogen production. This creates a vicious circle of weight gain, hormone imbalance, more weight gain and even greater hormone problems.
Now the single biggest thing you can do to control your weight is reduce you intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars. Yes, fat intake is not the major cause of our weight problems! Refined carbohydrates and sugars like white bread, most breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes, pizza’s and soft drinks etc are the real culprits. This is where most of us really fall down.
There is no need to go on low carbohydrate diets but we do need to reduce our overall carbohydrate level and to focus on whole-grain cereals, whole-grains and unprocessed carbohydrates including porridge, shredded wheat, Ready Brek, millet, quinoa, rice flakes, brown rice, 100% wholegrain or wholemeal bread, whole fruits (not juices!) and vegetables.
The Good and the Ugly Fats!
You need dietary fats to be healthy and have good hormone balance. 20% of your diet can be from fat with ideally three quarters of this coming from polyunsaturated omega 3 & 6 essential fats and monounsaturated fats (the good!). You can get these from fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds and their oils.
The problem with using oils is that they ‘go-off’ very easily, cooking damages the fats making them very unhealthy and the processing used to make them is even worse again leaving chemical residues and turning the healthy fats into deadly hydrogenated or trans fats (the ugly!).
So focus on eating the whole food like the fish, raw or lightly steamed vegetables and unprocessed nuts and seeds and absolutely minimise the use of oils like sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, soy oil and sesame seed oil. If you must use them, buy small amounts, go for the least processed versions, buy only if refrigerated, keep them refrigerated and replace them every 6 weeks once opened. For cooking it is best to use extra virgin olive oil, a small bit of butter or unrefined coconut oil as they suffer least damage from the heating!
Only 25% of your fats should come from saturated fats like red meats, butters, cheese and baked products. As little as possible should come from hydrogenated or trans fats (the ugly!) which are unnatural fats that occur to different degrees in all processed products like margarines, baked goods, potato chips and frozen desserts, so read labels very carefully! To make things worse hydrogenated fats obstruct the use of the essential fats you so desperately need so it’s a double whammy!
Watch out for Part 2 coming shortly!