Few decisions are as a difficult for most women as they make regarding how to approach their menopause. These are personal decisions based on your own and your family’s medical history. There are no “right” answers and your own decisions may change with time. Some women choose hormonal replacement. On the other hand others choose non-pharmacologic ways of dealing with symptoms and supporting their bodies as they move through this change. Others start with holistic treatments to treat symptoms while they are still menstruating, then switch to hormones later.
Diet and Menopause: A Holistic Approach
Menopause: a holistic approach urges you to watch your diet! During this time hormonal levels are fluctuating and your liver and kidneys are working hard to keep everything even; don’t give them any extra work. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Stick to fresh fruits and veggies. Avoid soda with its high phosphate load. In addition, this phosphate load is also very hard on your bones.
Add soy products to your diet; tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, because they have isoflavones. Most importantly, these chemicals help allay hot flashes and may help protect against breast cancer. Other good sources of isoflavones include oats , apples, barley, carrots, cherries, green beans, garlic, fennel parsley, red beans, rice, sage, tomatoes, and yams. Incidentally, red clover (sold as Promensil) has 4 isoflavones, but also stimulates great cells with the same strength as our natural estrogen. This may be a concern to many women, especially those with breast cancer or a strong family history of it.
Exercise and Menopause: A Holistic Approach
Most studies show that the more physically active a woman is, the less noticeable and intrusive her flashes. Any exercise is good: if you haven’t been active and are looking for something to try, consider yoga. Yoga is a gentle series of stretches and bends that build flexibility and strength as well as balance. Walking is also a simple way to start – shoot for 30-40 minutes 4 times a week. If you already are fairly active, add weight lifting. Many studies are showing that strength training is especially good for preventing osteoporosis.
Vitamins: A Holistic Approach
Consider taking calcium, 1000 mg. daily (1500 mg. if you’ve stopped menstruating). Take as a supplement (calcium carbonate or gluconate) but also get as much as possible in your diet. Good sources include dark green leafy veggies such as kale, chard, escarole and spinach. Add yogurt, milk and other dairy products. Avoid using antacids as a calcium source; you need the acid in your stomach to absorb the calcium.