Can a plant-based diet help with menopause and even delay it ?

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Menopause is the ending of a woman’s menstruation cycle and the ending of the reproductive period of her life. This is a normal development that every woman goes through during a certain point in her life, usually menopause happens between the ages of 40 – 55 yrs. In some women they may also experience early menopause, known as premature menopause. The symptoms as well as their severity and can be different from woman to woman.

Symptoms:
• Hot flashes
• Sudden feeling of heat in the body
• Breaking out into cold sweats
• Irregular periods
• Insomnia
• Mood swings
• Fatigue
• Depression
• Frequent headaches
• Joint & muscle pains
• Decrease in libido
• Bladder control problems
• Vaginal dryness

 

What can you do to help during the menopause transition  ?

Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are both low-fat and low-calorie foods that are perfect for women at any age but especially in menopause. Eating less fat and having more fibre in your daily diet has been shown to smooth out estrogen levels, reducing hot flashes and night sweats. Menopause is a naturally occurring change in the body, some of the symptoms connected with menopause can be eased by choosing a plant-based diet, the hot flashes, body stiffness and sleepless nights. The diet plays a very big role in this process, trying a plant-based lifestyle may provide the positive outcomes you are looking for. The harsh effects associated with this time in a woman’s life come from the hormonal changes in the body. Which usually takes place between the ages 40 and 55 yrs in Western populations.

As the menstrual cycle ends, levels of estrogen hormones fluctuate, this surge and suppression is what triggers some of the mood-driven symptoms, irritability and hot flashes amongst them. Another symptom that happens to women during this time is weight gain. By adding vegetables and fruits and whole grains that are low-fat and low-calorie foods can help relieve symptoms. Having less fat and more fibre in your daily diet has been shown to smooth out estrogen levels, lessening the hot flashes and night sweats. Fibre has the power of making you “feel full” helping you with the battle urges to binge eat and snack. Staying active with both aerobic and strength training exercise, while limiting alcohol and salt intake are also an import factor in maintain a healthy balance.

A healthy diet needs to contain nutrients like calcium, this can be consumed in products such as plant-based milk & yogurt, calcium-rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods such as mushrooms, soy and oranges. Soy can also contribute to helping in a menopause relieving diet. Soy is documented to contain phytoestrogens, which can assist in fighting some of the more difficult physiological responses. Another ingredient to keep menopause in check is Vitamin E. Foods rich in Vitamin E are dark-leafy greens, nuts, tropical fruits such as kiwi and papaya and red capsicums. Including more plant-based protein into your diet is vital to help prevent the onset of an early occurrence of menopause. The body’s clock is a prevailing force that regulates fertility and reproduction, so it’s not something we can change easily. Changes in the diet will not likely to have an instant effect, it may take up to 30 days before you see any benefits.

 

Can you delay menopause ?

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have claimed that consuming more vegetable protein-based foods may help in delaying of menopause. New studies claimed that women who consumed 6.5 % (2000 calories) of plant-based protein in their daily diet lowered their risk of early occurrence of menopause by 16 %. Researchers from the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts have said that including more calcium and vitamin D rich foods in the diet, can efficiently delay the menopause. Subsequently the diet is the key to a delaying menopause.
Below is a list of plant-based protein foods:
• Rice
• Beans
• Chia seeds
• Lentils
• Black beans
• Lima beans
• Spinach
• Chickpeas
• Almonds
• Cashews
• Pumpkin seeds
• Oatmeal
• Avocado
• Spirulina
• Quinoa
• Corn
• Soybeans

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A plant-based diet may be a crucial factor to good health and a delayed menopause, follow a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle you maybe able experience the health benefits of a delayed menopause. An unhealthy lifestyle can derail  your efforts.

 Lifestyle influences that could contribute to starting menopause early:
• Regular consumption of alcohol
• Intake of cigarette smoke or tobacco
• Intake of drugs or excessive medication
• Lack of exercise & physical activity
• Consumption of an unhealthy diet
• High-stress levels at work or home

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, it’s also one of the most frustrating symptoms that affect menopausal women. Hormone replacement therapy can be a helpful dealing with menopausal symptoms. Though many women choose not to undertake hormone replacement therapy because it increases the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.A study was led by Candyce K. Kroenke, ScD, MPH from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California in which 17,473 participants took part in this study postmenopausal women in the United States aged 50-79 years. The participants were not on hormone replacement therapy, they were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification program.

According to the study, dietary changes and weight loss helped diminish the symptoms of menopause particularly the hot flashes. The study showed that the participants who followed the dietary change were 14% more likely not to experience hot flashes. Those who lost 4.5 kg or more were 12% more likely not to experience hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. The study also showed that losing at least 9.97 kg’s could lessen or even eradicate moderate to severe symptoms. This  shows that if you are suffering from hot flashes, weight loss and a plant-based diet are be two of the best natural solutions.

How does Your Diet Affect Your Hormones During Menopause ?

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers, they help control virtually all physiological process in the body.

Including:
• metabolism
• immune system
• menstrual cycle
• reproduction
An exact hormonal balance is crucial to keep the proper body functioning, certain foods in your diet can restore the balance of your hormones. Eating a well-balanced diet is important, specifically if you’re facing menopause.

How does your diet affects your hormones during menopause ? 

Estrogen is the prime female sex hormone. Estrogen controls your menstrual cycle and prepares your uterus for pregnancy. Throughout perimenopause, the time that precedes menopause, the estrogen levels fluctuate. When you start menopause, your estrogen levels drop significantly. Fluctuations and the following drop in estrogen levels lead to the typical symptoms of menopause, hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and menstrual irregularity. You cannot get estrogen from your diet, there are several plant foods that contain phytoestrogens. which are chemicals that act similar to estrogen in the body. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens can support in relieving some of your menopause symptoms. Soy is the richest source of phytoestrogens, soy is particularly rich in a type of phytoestrogen called isoflavones. The isoflavones in soybeans bind to estrogen receptors in your body. Flaxseed is another significant source of phytoestrogens, It specifically contains a type of phytoestrogen called lignans Like the isoflavones in soy, lignans have both an estrogenic and antiestrogenic effect.
Insulin may be one of the most familiar hormones affected by your diet, when you consume carbohydrates, the glucose from the carbohydrates moves into the bloodstream. This activates your pancreas to release insulin. It attaches  to the glucose molecules then are transported  to your cells, where they are used for energy.
Glucagon is a pancreatic hormone, glucagon has the opposite effect of insulin. When you go without eating for a lengthy period of time, the pancreas releases glucagon. which signals your liver to change saved glycogen into glucose. The sugar is then secreted into your bloodstream, where it is used as an energy source until your body obtains more food. If you have insulin resistance, your pancreas makes insulin normally, except the muscles, fat, and liver cells don’t respond to insulin appropriately. Unfortunately your pancreas makes more insulin in an effort to aid glucose traveling into the cells. If your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, extra blood sugar builds up in your bloodstream.

Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes or diabetes. it’s important to maintain a balanced diet. Consumption of too many calories will cause you to gain weight, no matter what. This increases your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Eat complex carbohydrates, like oats, bran, whole grain breads, beans, lentils, and vegetables in place of refined carbohydrates, like white breads, biscuits and white sugar.

The adrenal glands secrete cortisol (the stress hormone) It’s part of your body’s fight-or-flight response, a physiological response activated in times of stress or perceived danger. Chronically high levels of cortisol in your body can raise your stress levels, blood pressure and visceral fat. (the fat that surrounds your midsection). Caffeine and alcohol causes mild surges in cortisol secretion. If you’re going through menopause, it’s a good idea to limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption to keep your cortisol levels in check.
During your whole life, eating a well-balanced diet is vital for good health. Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products.

Avoid junk foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories, processed sugar, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. Making a few modifications to your eating habits can actually make a big difference to your health.

 

Reference

Relieve Menopause Symptoms with a Plant-Based Diet


https://www.health-total.com/menopause-articles/how-diet-can-delay
https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/menopause-center/suffering
https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/diet-hormones