Hi friends, happy Friday!
How are you all?
First of all, a big thank you for your overwhelming response and feedback to my last post on menopause. It is indeed a difficult phase when the mood swings, headaches, anxiety and hot flashes etc kick in but with a few lifestyle changes and diet modifications, we should be able to navigate it a lot better.
The first step would be to see our gynaecologist and discuss our symptoms as well as concerns with her/him. The doctor might suggest some tests or prescribe certain supplements/medications, if needed.
Do get the necessary blood-work/bone-density tests done, as advised by the doc or your health consultant. Start on any supplements that are prescribed. While most of us would be alright without medications, some with severe symptoms would require hormone-therapy, in form of pills or patches.
Once all that is done, it is time for us to sit down and figure out a health-oriented lifestyle for us, if we haven’t started already. No better time than now to start some strength-training with some meditation on the side. In your 40s and 50s, if you still can’t find time for your own health then you better be brave, very brave…to face it all…with a weak body (and weak bones!) and a weaker mind!
In case you missed on my last post on the basics of menopause covering various types, its symptoms and other detailed info, do read it here first.
The rest of luckier ones with mild to moderate symptoms, should benefit significantly with some regular physical activity and some diet inclusions. These diet inclusions would be helpful only if your diet is a balanced one, rich in whole-grains, whole foods and includes lot of fresh fruits/ vegetables.
With that out of the way, let’s move to phytoestrogens now.
Phytoestrogens are natural plant-compounds which have similar chemical structure to that of estrogen hormone. The good thing about these compounds is that they mimic animal estrogens and our human body responds well to them.
Estrogen is a hormone that promotes sexual and reproductive development and in women especially, this hormone plays a vital role in regulating the monthly menstrual cycles and breast-development.
These are more commonly found than we probably know. People having a balanced diet especially from plant sources easily get phytoestrogens through their diets.
However, this efficacy is limited. Someone having severe symptoms might not benefit solely from them. If your symptoms are mild-moderate, adding dietary phytoestrogens is always a good idea.
Many plant-based foods contain phytoestrogens, some more than the others. Some even have anti-estrogen effects. Anyways, significant sources of phytoestrogens for menopausal relief, are:
- Soybeans and edamame – Tofu (highest of all soy products), tempeh (fermented soy product and a great probiotic too), miso, soymilk, whole edamame or even edamame pasta/noodles, have your fix. Edamame is green, immature soybeans, commonly sold frozen or unshelled in their pods. They are not only rich in protein but are unprocessed – full of many vitamins and minerals. They are all rich in isoflavones (a phytoestrogen)
- Flax seeds – Rich in lignans, a chemical compound that works as phytoestrogens and plays an important role in decreasing the risks of breast cancer in postmenopausal women
- Dried fruits – A rich source of phytoestrogens- dates, prunes and dried apricots make for easy, fibrous snacks too
- Sesame seeds (Til seeds) – Packed with fibre and a cholesterol-improver, try 50 gms of sesame powder daily for 5 weeks and see if it helps. Don’t forget to give me your feedback if it works for you!
- Garlic – With multiple health benefits, garlic oil supplements might also help with bone-loss related to estrogen deficiency
- Black cohosh – A native-American plant and medicine, black cohosh is primarily used for women’s menopausal health and relieving associated symptoms. Make sure you have no liver issues before you consider black cohosh though! It is available as solo-supplements and as blends as well. Do not take it for than 6 months at one go 🙂
- Veggies – like cauliflowers, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprout and carrots are rich in phytoestrogens
- Peaches – rich in lignans, a phytoestrogen that decreases the risk of breast cancer, might help
- Angelica Sinensis or Dong quai – Root from this plant has some effects on estrogen and it may affect other hormones in the body, relieving menopausal symptoms. Dong quai also contain coumarins, which give it blood thinning effects in the body – so make sure it does not contradict any medications that you take
- Legumes – such as peas, beans and peanuts
- Berries – loaded with vitamin, minerals, fibre and phytoestrogens, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries are rich sources of everything good
- Wheat bran – Rich in lignans, wheat bran is a concentrated rich source
- Other than above, evening primrose, red clover, licorice root also are said to be good sources of phytoestrogens
Benefits Of Phytoestrogens
Perimeopause/Menopause can bring on many uncomfortable symptoms, usually in late 40s. These symptoms might include hot flashes, mood-swings, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, depression, headaches etc. Many researches have suggested that phytoestrogen greatly reduce these symptoms and:
- help prevent bone-loss in aging women, just like natural estrogen hormone in our bodies
- relieve menstrual symptoms or irregular cycles
- decrease cholesterol levels
In The End
Do remember that phytoestrogens can indeed provide benefits and relief but they can be as unsafe as synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones can increase the risk for obesity, reproductive disorders, hormonal imbalance, uterine disorders, cancers and birth-disorders/miscarriage in pregnant women…and the same risks apply to phytoestrogens.
Dietary intake of phytoestrogen-rich foods is generally safe in moderation however, be careful with the high-dosage supplements. Avoid taking high doses of phytoestrogens and for long durations, to be on the safer side. Also, do let your doctor know if you want to add a high-dosage phytoestrogen supplement. Make sure your supplements are from a reputed brand/source.
As a soon-to-be health consultant myself, I would highly appreciate you giving your feedbacks to me on any supplements (for menopausal relief) that you start and benefit from (or not!). A big, warm hug to all those who already give me feedbacks 🙂
For more and regular health, fitness and nutrition related tips, recipes and information, do join me on
Till next Friday
Love, Health & Peace