Eat a variety of foods and increase your intake of plant foods. This increases the number of different phytochemicals you ingest and decreases the likelihood that any one type will be ingested in unbalanced and overly large amounts. The most recent evidence suggests that women who follow such a diet are at a lower risk of premature death from all causes (JAMA, 2000; 283: 2109-15). Those with the healthiest diets had a 30 per cent lower risk of premature death than those with the least healthy diets.
Don't forget fish. A recent study found that including more fish oil in the diet alleviated some of the most common perimenopausal problems, including dysmenorrhoea, bloating, headaches, nervousness and irritability (Nutr Res, 2000; 20: 621-32). Danish researchers found that women taking a combination of fish oil and B12 experienced significantly fewer perimenopausal problems. If fish oil causes side effects, get your oil from dietary fish sources such as salmon, mackerel and herring (Alt Med Alert, 2000; 3: 25-7).Purchase organic foods to limit your exposure to xenoestrogens in pesticide residues.
Support your adrenals. Healthy adrenal glands will continue to supply your postmenopausal body with a form of oestrogen. First, lower stress when ever possible. Adrenals under stress are too busy producing the stress hormone cortisone to produce other useful substances. Continual high levels of stress will cause the adrenals to shrink. Also make sure you are getting enough potassium (2-3 g daily) and pantothenic acid (B5, 25-100 mg daily). Pantothenic acid is found in legumes, wholegrains, salmon, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Good sources of potassium include avocado, lima beans, dried apricots, banana, cantaloupe melon, peaches, oranges and fish. Adequate vitamins C and B6, and the minerals zinc and magnesium are all necessary for the manufacture of hormones by the adrenal gland.
Is it your thyroid? Complications of low thyroid function can be confused with the 'symptoms' of menopause and include osteoporosis, high cholesterol as well as tiredness, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, brittle hair and menstrual irregularities.
Hot flushes can be triggered by dietary factors (J Urol, 1989; 64: 507- 10). Avoid 'thermogenic insults' like tea, coffee, alcohol and spicy foods.
Get moving. Just about every menopausal symptom, plus osteoporosis, diabetes, risk of stroke and risk of heart failure can be reduced through daily physical activity.
Quit smoking and limit alcohol. Smoking increases your risk of developing brittle bones by 400 per cent. High alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer and brittle bones.
Investigate alternatives. Good constitutional homoeopathic remedies and acupuncture can both eliminate menopausal symptoms.