Nutritional Factors to Help with Menopausal Symptoms
So first up the sad part … those to reduce or avoid
In clinical research, caffeine has been shown to cause more frequent flushes and night sweats. Unfortunately, research does not show how many cups of coffee a day it takes only that it does! So try cutting back or cutting out the coffee for a couple of days and see if it has any benefit for you.
Remember tea includes some caffeine too so if you are a heavy tea drinker you may well benefit from reducing consumption of your favourite cuppa. Finally some fizzy drinks also contain caffeine too.
It is not only night sweats and flushes that are aggravated by caffeine. Caffeine intake may be part of the problem for other menopausal symptoms such as joint pains, panic attacks, anxiety or trouble sleeping.
Coffee exacerbates symptoms of bloating and fluid retention too. This is thought to be due to enzymes in the coffee rather than the actual caffeine.
Just one more glass of bubbly…
Alcohol is another culprit. We all know that alcohol increases body heat and flushing.
Unfortunately in women prone to hot flushes alcohol is sure to trigger a flush. So if you are out at lunch with a potential new work client you may want to reduce or avoid the alcohol consumption or risk resembling a Belisha Beacon.
In addition, alcohol is drying. If you feel like your skin is crawling and itchy alcohol will exacerbate this symptom too.
Feeling a little fruity…
Some women find acidic foods aggravate hot flushes and night sweats. Foods we more commonly think of as being acidic include fried foods, beef or seafood, sweeteners and sugar, processed cheese and processed foods. However, many fruit juices are acidic too. Indeed, some women find some of the more acidic citrus fruits and even tomatoes (mildly acidic) increase flushes or night sweats.
Some women struggle with stiff joints or even joint pain when menopausal. Some foods are believed to aggravate joint pain. This can vary considerably with individuals however, citrus fruits and tomatoes are often condemned.
Some sources suggest it is not only tomatoes but all foods in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. The nightshade food group includes a number of popular foods such as potatoes, peppers, aubergine as well as tomatoes. I’m not personally convinced the whole food group are culprits. For one, people often respond well to chilli (another nightshade food) for arthritic or joint pains. It really is down to the individual but it is certainly worth avoiding these foods for a couple of weeks and reintroducing one at a time to monitor any effects.
How about that bacon sarnie?
Unless you are vegan or vegetarian the smell of bacon cooking undoubtedly tingles the tastebuds. Several years ago I worked in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia bacon was banned. People invariably sneaked it through customs and into the country. I will never forget the smell of someone cooking bacon. It was torture knowing you couldn’t go out and buy some even though I was never personally a great lover of bacon butties but oh that aroma.
We’ve already mentioned fried foods can increase flushes and night sweats so if you really need a bacon sarnie opt for grilled bacon.
However, if you have feelings of anger, grumpiness, irritability, low moods or depression with your menopause then it is definitely best to avoid all fatty foods. Sorry that includes bacon. Fatty foods lower serotonin levels.
Serotonin is extremely important in helping to maintain moods, stabilise sleep and lift libido. Three common menopausal symptoms.
Anyone for a little spice?
This is a difficult one. Countries with hotter temperatures (India and Thailand, South America and the Caribbean) often eat lots and lots of what we would consider hot spices. The irony here is hot foods do make you sweat and of course, sweating is your bodies natural way of cooling you down. So they actually can help cool you down. However, when you are already flushing over your hormones perhaps an added hot flush from your Thai or Indian food is not much fun.
Not convinced the above have any effect on you?
If in doubt keep a food diary. Note what you eat and drink. Add the number and severity of flushes or nights sweats. How did you feel? Were you more anxious, irritable, impatient or tearful?
No two women are the same and so no two women will experience exactly the same menopausal symptoms.
This post is a guideline of nutritional factors to help with menopausal symptoms. Keeping a food diary will allow you to tailor your own nutritional plan to help with your individual menopausal symptoms.
And now the good part … those to enjoy
Craving that Caffeine Fix?
Try replacing with a herbal tea. Often it is the habit of sitting down for a cuppa that people miss most. Opting for a herbal tea you are still having a brew. Try choosing a herb or blend of herbs that will actually help relieve your menopausal symptoms.
Feeling Jaded without your Fruit Juice?
Opt for vegetable juices instead. Cucumber is a cooling refreshing drink. It has so many wonderful health benefits. Add a little apple or a carrot if you prefer it sweeter.
Battling the Bacon aroma?
Instead of destroying your serotonin levels and knocking your moods for six help boost serotonin with good quality fats. Foods highest in tryptophan are turkey and chicken, whole milk, salmon and eggs. Serotonin is synthesised by tryptophan in the body.
Instead of the bacon butties for breakfast opt for ‘tryptophan breakfast’ of poached salmon with a poached egg for a serotonin boost. Delicious and much better for your moods and libido. In addition, salmon is bursting full of omega-3. Much needed for healthy skin to ease itchy skin and beat those wrinkles. Go for a brisk walk after breakfast or on your lunch break to further boost your mood.
Struggling without that Spice of life?
If you want a flavour burst with some spice try some of the less heating spices such as coriander or turmeric. Food doesn’t need to be boring and tasteless.
In Final, a summary of Nutritional Factors to Help with Menopausal Symptoms
Remember if you do find a favourite food is exacerbating any of your symptoms don’t despair. You can still enjoy these foods occasionally and once you have conquered the menopause you can probably reintroduce them without any problem.
In general eating a good, healthy and balanced diet includes all the nutritional factors to help with menopausal symptoms.