The menopause is an inevitable part of the ageing process for women and a time of physical and emotional change. The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 but can start earlier in some women.
Falling oestrogen levels are the cause of the typical symptoms, such as heavy or irregular periods, weight gain, night sweats, hot flushes, headaches and joint pain. A loss of sex drive and increased irritability are also common. Not every woman will experience all or even any of the symptoms.
The biggest effect of the menopause is that it signals the end of fertility for women while also increasing the risk of heart disease. Women are also more likely to be affected by a loss of calcium because of the reduction in oestrogen.
While medical treatments for the symptoms focus on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there are more natural remedies through diet and nutrition that can benefit menopausal women.
Calcium-rich foods and supplements, for example, can help offset the loss of calcium in the bones and improve bone health. Dairy products, green leafy vegetables and herring are among the easiest to obtain calcium-rich products.
To reduce the risk of heart disease, cut down on the amount of salt you have in your food and eat less fatty food while eating more products containing omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to be good for heart health. Go for oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, and
To combat night sweats and hot flushes, take a supplement containing soy isoflavones because the compounds they contain act in a similar way to oestrogen. Make sure your bedroom is cool when you retire at night, too.
Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet that includes at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, along with wholegrain cereals and legumes such as pulses and beans. If you are overweight, try to shed those excess pounds and exercise at least three times a week.
Dietary and nutritional supplements may also be appropriate for some women – do talk to your doctor if you are taking medication to ensure you are taking the right thing.