The Essential Edible Pharmacy – How To Help Yourself Through Menopause
Clinical nutritionist Sophie Manolas offers some great ideas and recipes for using your everyday diet to help deal with the menopause.
I get to see a lot of health books and cookery books that have a healing approach. I have often been struck by how many really good ones about using the food we eat to heal many of our ills do seem to come out of Australia.
Maybe the outdoor life inspires this, and certainly healing nutrition and alternative remedies are very much part of the culture from the many good uses for Tea Tree Oil to Australian Bush Essences. So when a new book came my way by Australian clinical nutritionist Sophie Manolas I was interested to see how it could help with some of the common symptoms of menopause.
We often say ‘you are what you eat’ but don’t really practice it but as Sophie explains:
‘Whatever stage you are at, and whatever changes you might be experiencing, good nutrition is always the best place to start and this doesn’t have to mean a Draconian switch to raw foods or organic veganism.
Simply follow my advice and eat a wide variety of fresh, healthy, natural foods, and you should sail through the menopause and set yourself up for optimum health for the rest of your life.’
From avocado to zuccini – how can they help your menopause?
Sophie is a clinical nutritionist whose rural childhood taught her the importance of the vegetable patch and fresh produce. After qualifying in Nutritional Medicine, she established her own practice, and has achieved great success with her down-to-earth approach.
She looks at the health benefits of over 60 commonly available and nutrient-dense foods, but that actually is almost the least important part of the book. Stunning photographs illustrate some simple delicious way to improve your mind and supercharge your health. If you want to eat well, minimise menopause symptoms and avoid illness, then she has the recipes to help you do just that.
This is just about neck and neck with worries about hot flushes and, just like them, is sadly is often all too visible. Oestrogen dominance means an extra layer of fat and no matter how hard you exercise or diet it can be difficult to shift. Switching just a few items in your diet could make all the difference.
Key ingredients: avocado, cinnamon, broccoli
* Cinnamon can help reduce insulin resistance – a common condition when the cells stop listening to the hormone insulin, resulting in weight gain and an increased diabetes risk – as insulin encourages the uptake and utilisation of sugar in the bloodstream.
* Avocados are a new ‘superfood’ and they will help you feel fuller for longer, which helps to curb cravings for high-sugar foods.
* Broccoli has so many health benefits but did you know it could also help with weight loss?
* Pulses and seeds are also good for weight control so add chickpea, lentils and Chia seeds which have a high protein and fibre content to keep you feeling fun for hours.
Women often underestimate the risk of heart disease at menopause, but it is more dangerous than cancer in terms of deaths per year. Bioidentical progesterone supports heart health, and don’t neglect these heart helpers either.
Key ingredients: spinach, tomatoes, figs, bananas, almonds, brazil and pistachio nuts, beetroot, garlic
* Spinach is full of antioxidants and contains potassium, which is beneficial for your heart
* Tomatoes are great, whether the fruit or puree, because of the antioxidant function of lycopene, combined with the other powerful antioxidants s such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They neutralise the free radicals that could otherwise damage cells and cell membranes and so reduce the potential for the progression and severity of atherosclerosis
* Figs can reduce cholesterol and improve heart health as they are full of fibre and contain plenty of B vitamins to increase your energy levels
* Bananas have plenty of fibre to keep yo going, and potassium which is another heart healthy necessity
* Almonds and pistachios help lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of diabetes
* Brazil nuts are high in selenium and healthy heart protective fats
* Beetroot can help lower blood pressure
* Garlic is a great multi tasker as it helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure
A hidden danger at menopause is the increased risk for osteoporosis as there are no visible signs until you break a bone. If you have a risk for this disease then a preventive diet is a good place to start and then boost your diet with bioidentical progesterone to help build new bone.
Key ingredients: leafy greens, sesame seeds, brussels sprouts, kale, parsnips, turnip
* Leafy greens are best combined with the sesame seeds to give you a good form of absorbable calcium.
* Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants, and with vitamin K and vitamin C are good for your bones. If you want a great way to use them look for the recipe for honey roasted sprouts combined with onion and garlic – it even converted me!
* Kale has been hailed as a superfood and certainly it helps build bones and so do everyday vegetables like parsnips and turnip
Anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes – who would welcome menopause? But it can be helped by maintaining good hormone balance and ensuring your diet does its best to support, not sabotage, your symptoms.
Key ingredients: coconut oil, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, linseeds, sesame seeds, edamame beans, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
* Coconut oil contains conjugated linoleum acid, a fatty acid which helps to reduce oestrogen dominance. Healthy fats are essential for warding off anxiety and can help with the mood swings of menopause too
* Walnuts have a high vitamin E content to help with hot flushes, and that irritating itchy skin which is a common feature of hormone imbalance. They also boost your heart, bones and help with weight management – a lot of benefit for just a few walnuts a day
* Leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage and kale all have a high fibre content and that helps with both hot flushes and night sweats
* Linseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids to calm anxiety and help with depression
* Sesame seeds, edamame beans, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage all provide natural phytoestrogens to help with hot flushes, and good for women with low oestrogen levels naturally
Menopause is a constantly changing evolution, so using your everyday foods and supplementing with bioidentical hormone creams will help you stay on top of the mood swings, hot flushes, and more, that can descend on you at this time of life.
You can find more information on Sophie Manolas at her website http://www.theediblepharmacy.com and her book is available online and in book stores.