Women all over the world will experience symptoms of peri- and post-menopause in their lifetime. This includes fatigue, difficulty sleeping, brain fog, hot flashes, weight gain, anxiety, depression, blood sugar instability and more. Though taking the medical route to treat these symptoms with hormone replacement therapy is an option, many women find themselves seeking alternate and more accessible routes—like dietary changes. Additionally, hormone replacement therapy changes nutrition requirements. PhenomX Health CEO, scientist and Registered Dietitian, Dr. Colleen Draper weighs in on essential nutrients to support the body during these transitional phases.
Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that mimic human estrogen in the body. In fact, some research has found that ingesting foods with phytoestrogen properties may reduce hot flashes. This occurs because when ingested, the body’s receptors attach to the phytoestrogen as they would normally to estrogen, thus making up for the estrogen deficit that occurs during the menopause journey.
Foods high in phytoestrogen include;
Soy products: tempeh, tofu, edamame, soybeans
Seeds: flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, and sunflower.
Whole grains: rye, oats, and barley
Beans and lentils- chickpeas, split beans, pinto beans, kidney beans.
Fruits and vegetables: berries and apples, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.
Calcium and Vitamin D3
As we age, our bone density naturally begins to decline-- especially during the menopause journey. This decline of estrogen increases the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, which is why calcium and vitamin D are important for bone health. “Calcium and Vitamin D go hand-in-hand. In fact, Vitamin D protects your bones, both by allowing your body to absorb the calcium, and supporting the surrounding muscles.” It not only slows down the weakening process of your bones, but some studies have shown vitamin D to stabilize mood swings and support emotional health.
Foods with Calcium: Broccoli, milk, yogurt, fish and legumes.
Foods with Vitamin D: seafood like salmon, vitamin-D fortified foods like milk, soy milk, orange juice, and cereals.
Magnesium is one of the highest mineral deficiencies in the world, especially for women. This mineral is especially significant for enzyme and brain chemical production, skeletal muscle function, bone health support, and overall a healthy nervous system. In addition, including magnesium rich foods in the diet is crucial in supporting overall heart health and the management of blood sugars and blood pressure.
Foods with Magnesium: Dark chocolate, legumes, nuts & seeds, avocadoes, fatty fish, leafy greens.
Women transitioning into menopause will notice some digestive changes that may result in more bloating or constipation. Adding more fiber in the diet improves general bowel movement and wellness by feeding the good gut bacteria, and helping to bulk and move the bowel faster. In addition, fiber regulates the natural occurrence of blood sugar dysregulation through satiety, and helps manage weight from excess weight gain during these periods.
“What is very interesting about fiber, is not only its ability to bind and remove cholesterol and triglycerides from the blood, which are naturally increasing as we age, but also its estrogen metabolism” explains Dr. Draper, “fiber binds itself to excess estrogen and helps the body eliminate it through bowel movements. Fiber also feeds the microbiome in the gastrointestinal system which supports estrogen metabolism. How effective is that?”
Fruits and vegetables high in fiber: unpeeled apples and pears, berries, pineapple, avocado, pomegranate, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, beetroot, sweet potato, and pumpkin.
Nuts and seeds: almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, coconut, chia seeds, flaxseeds, quinoa
Lentils and legumes.
With all that said and practiced, it’s important to remember that a well-rounded diet is broad and rich in a variety of micronutrients working synergistically to keep the body thriving. As we age, it's natural that our body’s nutritional requirements change. And it is normal these needs change with our changing hormones. Remember good nutrition is a choice we can make every day!
Want to feel better? Start practicing scientific self-care now! How? If you want to know more about your nutritional status, check out our easy-to-use Optimal Nutrition Women's Wellness test to find out your nutrition and stress status from 34 biomarkers! If caring for specific symptoms and/or managing your relation to nutrition is your priority, use our app, the 1st global health tracker especially designed for the menopause journey: www.phenomxhealth.com/application.
Voice-record your nutrient intake - food, supplements, and other lifestyle choices; and track your daily symptoms with severity. By doing so, you’ll see, first hand, the relation between what you ingest and how you feel. You’ll be empowered to make the necessary adjustments.
That’s scientific self-care !