Women react differently to the onset of menopause in their 40s or 50s. Being an unavoidable biological phenomenon, women have little option but to battle through the symptoms. Be it the disturbed sleep cycle, irrepressible mood swings, profuse sweating, vaginal dryness or the more common hot flashes, women experience these temporary symptoms at varying intensity.
While some women tend to manage on their own, many others seek medical help to make it easier to deal with the debilitating symptoms. Although medical therapies are available to relieve symptoms to some extent, they are usually not without side effects. Simple dietary and lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies can offer a more permanent solution.
Given the hectic life women have balancing home and work, it is pretty common that they tend to skip regular meals and instead binge on unhealthy snacks. Unfortunately, this is not a solution, especially during menopause. Health experts recommend a balanced diet during menopause.
- Add five proportions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day in your diet.
- Add calcium rich products like cheese, milk, yogurt etc. in your diet for strong bones. To keep tabs on your weight, you can also opt for skimmed milk or low fat cheese.
- Keep your body replenished with proteins by consuming meat, eggs, fish, etc.
- Avoid food loaded with high saturated fats. Instead consume unsaturated fats – nuts, oily fish, vegetable and olive oil, etc.
- Control your sugar intake by avoiding fizzy drinks, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, etc. Instead have a glass of fresh fruit juice every day.
- Consume soy products such as soy flour or soy milk, wild yam and black cohosh to improve estrogen levels. Low estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness. A big ‘NO’ for over-the-counter lotions, creams, scented soaps, bath oils and shower gels as they can worsen the dryness.
- Avoid spicy food, smoking, coffee, alcohol, etc. as they can trigger hot flashes.
- Last but not the least, keep your body well-hydrated throughout the day.
Regular exercise has helped many women beat severe menopause symptoms. Due to hormonal imbalance, some women tend to put on extra flab. This unwanted weight gain is hard to get rid off unless you exercise every day. Exercise will also help reduce the intensity of your symptoms by stabilising your mood and reducing hot flashes and night sweats.
- Put your jogging shoes on and hit the road. Let your body breathe in fresh air before you start with your daily chores.
- Brisk walk and other low intensity muscle training are highly recommended.
- You can also join some dancing or aerobic class.
- Practise yoga every day to rejuvenate yourself.
- Find something you love to do – say a hobby from childhood, a cookery class, gardening etc., something that will help you relax.
Restore Emotional Balance
During menopause, women tend to get easily irritated, depressed, lethargic, and often suffer from anxiety pangs. Here are some tips to relieve your psychological distress:
- Spend some time in stress relieving techniques such as meditation.
- Set aside time for yourself – listen to music, watch your favourite movies, work on your hobbies, etc.
- Don’t keep your depressing thoughts to yourself. Talk it out to your close friend or partner.
Many women, during menopause, suffer from inadequate sleep. Sound sleep may help reduce night sweating and other symptoms.
- Have a glass of milk before bedtime.
- You can also take a hot shower or bath before bedtime.
- Avoid exercising in the later half of the day.
- Avoid sleeping pills.
- Wear comfortable clothing to enjoy sound sleep.
Studies show that women have found relief from their menopausal symptoms with the use of alternative therapies like the ones below:
- Acupuncture: for reduction of frequency and severity of hot flashes
- Reflexology: for less anxiety, depression, fatigue and peaceful sleep.
- Reiki: This popular non-invasive healing therapy balances various body energy systems, including the hormonal system. Reiki reduces disturbed sleep, anxiety, fatigue, hot flashes and body cramps.
- Hypnotherapy: Clinical hypnosis may help reduce hot flashes and improves sleep but little information is available on how long the benefits last.
- Aromatherapy: Women tend to feel better after getting massage with essential aroma oils. Extracted from plants, aroma oils relieve hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, body aches etc.
- Homeopathy: Homeopathic treatment can also reduce hot flashes and improve quality of life among menopausal women.
- Ayurveda: Many ayurvedic medicines like Shatavari ghrita for hot flashes, Ashoka arista to relieve abnormal bleeding, Brahmi for emotional health, Mukta bhasma for urinary tract infections, Lakshadi guggulu to supplement calcium, etc., can help relieve several menopausal symptoms.
Menopause can be a really trying time for women and although hormone replacement therapy is the first option suggested by most allopathic doctors, it can give rise to several common side effects like weight gain, fluid retention, bloating, cramps, nausea, headache, etc. So, do try all alternative and natural remedies first as they are extremely safe with no reported side effects.
Menopause and Diet
– Nidhi Manotra
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