Advancements in science and technology can do wonders in terms of defying aging. You can look a decade younger than your actual age. A healthy lifestyle goes a long way in delaying the aging process too! There is, however, one thing we are powerless to control: menopause.
We cannot halt the body’s natural decline in hormone production leading to the cessation of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. The onset of signs and symptoms of menopause are experienced by women in their 40s. There are three stages of menopause. The first one is called perimenopause, which lasts for about four years. During this period, women begin to have irregular menstrual periods. The ovaries’ capacity to produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone decline and become faulty. A woman may also observe changes in the amount and duration of the flow.
After 12 consecutive months without a visit from Aunt Flow, a woman now enters the second stage known as menopause. At the age of 45 to 55 years old, the ovaries stop producing egg cells, leaving a woman incapable of conceiving or getting pregnant.
While it varies for every individual, women in menopause may experience some discomfort. It is best to know what to expect to prevent you from getting alarmed should you feel any such symptoms as hot flashes, a classic sign, and night sweats. Others may also feel mood alterations, irritability, depression, sleep disturbance or insomnia, palpitations or irregular heartbeat, vaginal dryness and infection, headache, joint and muscle pains, depression, and forgetfulness.
While the excess estrogen from fat cells is harmful, nature provided us with naturally occurring plant estrogens or phytoestrogens that may help to decrease the risk of age-related diseases like breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Menopause has serious health implications, especially as a woman enters the third stage, which is postmenopause. Due to decreased hormone production, age-related illnesses may arise among women in postmenopause. Women become vulnerable to elevated bad cholesterol levels, increased risk for cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessels), bone breakdown leading to osteoporosis, and a higher tendency to have fractures due to brittle and weak bones are also serious health concerns.
Women who have excess body fat are at risk of developing hormone-related cancers. While the ovaries naturally produce less estrogen at this stage, body fat cells could produce excess estrogen, which can cause cancer. It is important to achieve a healthy weight range and normal body fat percentage during this period.
While the excess estrogen from fat cells is harmful, nature provided us with naturally occurring plant estrogens or phytoestrogens that may help to decrease the risk of age-related diseases like breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Phytoestrogens have weak estrogen-like properties in the body. They attach to receptor sites found in cells that have been made for estrogen. If excess cancer-promoting estrogen cannot bind to these sites, the chances of developing cancer decrease. Plant sources of phytoestrogens also contain antioxidants and plant chemicals or phytochemicals that are beneficial in keeping inflammation down and keeping a person healthy.
At any stage of menopause, women are encouraged to regularly consume at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day. In addition, here are some plant foods that are helpful to relieve symptoms of menopause.
Soy, edamame, and soy products contain isoflavones that help alleviate menopausal discomfort such as hot flashes. It also promotes a healthy heart and blood vessels by helping decrease bad cholesterol.
Gingko helps restore hormone balance as well as improve blood flow. It contains terpenoids that relieve chills after episodes of hot flashes. It also enhances memory and alleviates depression and fatigue.
Chinese yam relieves symptoms of night sweats and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also enhances immunity, which is often compromised among elderly women. Chinese yam has nourishing and moisturizing properties that help delay visual signs of aging.
Also beneficial to women in menopause are sage, raspberry, and licorice. These may not be locally and readily available. It is best to consult a registered nutritionist dietitian for modified forms that may come in liquid, powder, or pill.