Natural menopause is the change in a woman’s life, usually at an average age of 51, when she has completely stopped having periods for 12 consecutive months. During this time, the reproductive system gradually shuts down. Keep in mind that every woman will eventually reach menopause even if she experiences premature menopause, which may happen for a number of reasons and occurs before the age of 40. Some of the uncomfortable symptoms while going through the change of life for any woman, include hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, migraine headaches, skin problems, irregular or erratic periods, breast tenderness and swelling, bone loss, and fuzzy thinking.
According to research and studies, many women going through natural menopause can get as much relief from vitamins and herbs as they do from hormonal drugs. For example, diet and exercise are important to a woman’s health and maintenance. With this, some symptoms of natural menopause may be reduced by eating a low-fat and high-soy diet. Soy products are beneficial in that they contain phytoestrogens, which can be found in foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soybean milk, and meat substitutes. Studies have shown that a high-soy diet that includes 40 grams per day provides between 40% and 50% relief. When compared to hormone replacement therapy in treating symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats, soy is just as effective. Other foods that can help alleviate symptoms of menopause include whole grains, oats, wheat, brown rice, almonds, cashews, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Just as foods can be beneficial, there are foods that should be avoided. As an example, excessive amounts of sugar should be avoided since they the body’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Additionally, caffeine and carbonated drinks contain phosphorous, which can increase bone loss. For symptoms such as migraine headaches, a woman should avoid trigger foods such as alcohol, red wine, chocolate, peanuts, and aspartame (found in some diet drinks). Sometimes, eliminating wheat, sugar, corn, and dairy from a woman’s diet for a couple of weeks can help. Because it is difficult to eat proper foods every day, women should take vitamin supplements, including calcium, on a daily basis to ensure proper health maintenance.
A woman should also remember to implement exercise into her daily routine, which helps metabolize the estrogen and can help reduce menopausal symptoms as well. Progesterone made from wild yams and soy beans is very close to the hormones produced by the woman’s body. For this reason, these too can also help alleviate many symptoms of natural menopause such as migraines, breast tenderness and swelling, irregular or erratic periods, and skin problems. When a woman’s body is going through the change, it may be lacking progesterone rather than estrogen.
Keep in mind that not all symptoms can be completely controlled by diet, exercise, rest, or vitamins. For many women, a doctor consultation may be required to look at additional treatment options. For example, if a woman is experiencing heart palpitations or having heavy menstrual bleeding, she should see her doctor immediately since these symptoms could be associated with a much more serious condition and not even a part of natural menopause. Traditionally in our culture, menopause has been viewed as a time when the hormones fluctuate so badly that they are totally incapacitating. However, many women experience only minor discomfort during the change of life. In fact, some women even find renewed energy and enthusiasm after reaching natural menopause, eager to start a new chapter of life.
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