03 Aug 2015 No Comments
Guest Blogger and Holistic Nutritionist: Val Meikle shares her tips on…
Nutrition for balancing your hormones:
As we age into our 40’s and 50’s, the sex hormones – progesterone and estrogen begin to fluctuate and create concerns and issues. These fluctuations are normal but can rage out of control.
In this blog I’m focusing on what women who are perimenopausal or menopausal can do with nutrition to help balance hormones for optimal well being.
First though I’d like to talk a little about those signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Changes can start several years before menopause proper actually sets in, with erratic periods or unusually heavy or light bleeding. You may also experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations and mood swings. But if a woman is healthy, active, and well-nourished her adrenal glands will usually respond by creating precursor hormones which are then converted into estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
I won’t be covering Hormone Replacement Therapy in this blog as it’s a topic that should be discussed with your Naturopath or other Doctor. Optimally, it is best to get a hormone test done to find out which hormone imbalances you may have. Saliva testing is a very good option, and one that I personally have done twice in the last 3 years. For women with mild to moderate symptoms of menopause, the use of diet, exercise and nutritional supplements, especially herbal and homeopathic remedies, is an effective approach. The beauty of this approach is that these natural supplements balance the hormones already present in the body. In addition, the use of natural progesterone appears to be very safe and effective when a stronger approach is needed.
Let’s get to the meat of the matter, the food! The closer to the onset of perimenopause that you incorporate these recommendations, the more likely you will experience far fewer problems when menopause begins in earnest.
Eat a diet loaded with plant foods, especially whole grains (be aware of gluten intolerance or sensitivity), legumes (peas and beans), fresh vegetables and fruits. These contain phytosterols, naturally occurring nutrients that have a hormone balancing effect. You’ll also get the fiber you need to keep your heart healthy and the nutrients will encourage a strong, vibrant response to menopause.
Increase (or start eating) your consumption of flaxseed (1-2 tablespoons of ground seed per day), essential fatty acids (which also protect the heart, & promote smooth healthy skin) – good sources are cold water fish like salmon, tuna and cod.
Vitamin E regulates estrogen production. Make sure to include cold-pressed nut and seed oils in your diet, perhaps as a dressing for your green salad.
Drink a glass of clean filtered water every 2 hours to help flush toxins and replace fluids lost during hot flashes.
Help your liver break down excess hormones that the body is no longer using. Phytonutrients from cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower help the liver do just that. Your liver also needs sulfur compounds found in garlic and onions.
Increase omega-3 fat intake to create a proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids with eggs and fish products as well as ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, and their cold-pressed oils. Chia seeds are another source of omega-3.
Foods to Avoid:
Reduce red meat and other sources of saturated fat, eat hormone-free animal products to avoid causing a hormone imbalance. Most major grocery chains are now carrying such products. Avoid carbonated drinks as they deplete calcium. Caffeine and alcohol aggravate hot flashes, so reduce or eliminate them from your diet. Refined grains, sugars, and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) should also be avoided. Along with artificial sweeteners.
Limit dairy and high/full fat foods but don’t substitute with low fat foods as these are usually full of sugar and chemicals to improve the taste difference that low fat creates.
Contrary to what was once believed soy is not good for women. Soy contains phytoestrogens which mimic natural estrogen in the body, unfortunately it can cause estrogen dominance (http://drhoffman.com/article/estrogen-dominance-syndrome-2/) which has been linked to a number of conditions and diseases.
Of course avoid processed, prepackaged, man-made foods!
A quick word on supplements that help balance hormones: Black Cohosh, Chasteberry, American Ginseng, vitamin E. the B vitamins, and Evening Primrose Oil have all proven to be beneficial in balancing hormones and/or reducing perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Hope you enjoyed reading this informative post buy our Guest Blogger; Val Meikle.
….please stay tuned next week for our tips on “Dressing for Menopause”