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Bloating, hot flushes and irritability are just some of the issues that hit us during menopause. But the good news is there are some simple ways to soothe these annoying symptoms. Nutritionist, chef and author of Falling in Love with Food, Zoe Bingley Pullin shares five foods that could help ease some of the menopause discomfort.
As the name suggests, oat bran is made from oats, specifically, the layer of cells found under the oat husk and is very high in fibre. Eating adequate fibre during menopause is beneficial to aid the removal of oestrogen from the body and can also help with appetite control and therefore weight management. Use oat bran in smoothies, baked goods, topped on yoghurt or porridge.
Linseeds (flaxseeds) contain compounds called lignans, which are phytoestrogens. Phytostrogens can be beneficial during menopause because they have weak oestrogen activity and can help to modulate oestrogen levels naturally. This means such foods may help to reduce symptoms including night sweats. Linseeds are also a good source of protein and healthy plant-based omega-3 fats.
Consuming a diet along the lines of the Mediterranean diet has been associated with reduced menopause symptoms. This pattern of eating is low in trans fatty acids and processed foods, while being high in healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, fibre and antioxidants. Legumes are a large part of the Mediterranean diet and offer a source of lean protein, fibre, antioxidants and an array of vitamins and minerals.
Mood swings and irritability are a common symptom of menopause, which cause women a lot of grief! Magnesium is a mineral, which is a necessary co-factor to synthesis neurotransmitters such as serotonin, our feel-good hormone. Therefore, adequate magnesium may be helpful to boost serotonin levels during menopause to overcome poor mood. Magnesium also helps to calm our nervous system and may assist with poor sleep habits, another common issue experienced during menopause. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are sources of magnesium.
Regular intake of fruit including strawberries, pineapple, mango, melon and apricots has been associated with reduced incidence of hot flushes and night sweats. This may be partly due to the fact that women who consume fruit, eat a better diet overall - a diet higher in fibre and low in trans fat. Fruit is a good way to increase your fibre intake while also getting in an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Overall, no one food will help ease menopause symptoms, instead, a Mediterranean-style diet which is low in trans fats, processed foods and sugar while being high in fibre is likely to be a helpful dietary pattern to ease symptoms of menopause.