Menopause is a natural biological process of life that all women experience between around ages 45-58. Caused by the gradual decline in estrogen and progesterone produced in the ovaries, menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
The change in hormones can result in a range of uncomfortable and inconvenient symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes (sometimes referred to as flushes)
- Decreased bone mass
- Lower sex drive
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Blood pressure changes
Fortunately, many alternative therapies may regulate hormone levels first before trying a method with undesirable side effects.
There are many natural remedies to help alleviate symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. Let’s take a look!
1. Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet and help alleviate menopausal symptoms.
A 2018 study surveyed vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores between the ages of 45 and 80. Plant-based eaters reported less bothersome hot flashes and night sweats (known as vasomotor symptoms) than women eating an omnivorous diet.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower contain compounds known as phytoestrogens, which are effective in reducing the severity of hot flashes. Leafy greens like kale and mustard greens support the body’s production of an enzyme that mimics estrogen, thereby reducing menopause symptoms.
A diet full of healthy leafy greens also provides nitric oxide to support cardiac health. During menopause, the risk of heart disease rises, so be sure to eat your salads.
2. Don’t Skimp on Protein
As estrogen levels decrease, muscle mass tends to decline. To support your muscles and bones during menopause, it’s important to consume more clean protein.
Animal products like fish, chicken, and beef are often associated with protein and provide essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. But plant-based sources like nuts, beans, and pistachios are also excellent options.
Soy products, including tofu, edamame, and soy milk, are rich in phytoestrogens and offer a healthy way to incorporate extra protein into your diet. If tofu isn’t your favorite, consider beans, as legumes are full of isoflavones and offer anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Consume More Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring, plant-based compounds that resemble estrogen in structure. They can function similarly to your body’s own estrogen, offering a way to manage hormone levels without resorting to hormone replacement therapy.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider adding some of the top dietary sources of phytoestrogens to your shopping list! Look for:
- Soybean products (worth mentioning again!)
- Dried apricots, cranberries, and prunes
- Sesame seeds
4. Stay Hydrated
Many people don’t drink enough water, even though proper hydration is crucial for a variety of bodily functions. Your body needs water to circulate blood, digest food, maintain healthy skin and hair, and of course, regulate fluid levels.
Estrogen and progesterone play a role in fluid regulation within the body. An adult’s body is made up of 60-70% water. However, during and after menopause, hormonal changes can reduce the body’s water content to around 55%, as noted in a 2014 review.
The decline in hormone levels can also decrease your metabolic rate, resulting in dry skin, thinning hair, and even difficulties with concentration. To counteract these changes, it’s essential to increase your water intake.
5. Eat Regularly
A slower metabolism may cause menopausal weight gain. During this time, avoid fad diets and focus on a balanced diet to promote whole-body wellness. Avoid overeating, but eat at regular intervals and avoid fasting for more than 14 hours at a time (between dinner and breakfast).
Try not to give in to processed and sugary snack foods whenever possible.
6. Exercise Frequently
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy body weight, enhancing sleep quality, maintaining your energy levels, and supporting mental well-being.
The NIH recommends a well-rounded exercise regimen for women going through menopause. Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis should pay close attention to their bodies and opt for low-impact activities to minimize the risk of injury.
7. Do Kegels
Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen and improve blood flow to the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina. As women age, these muscles can weaken, leading to potentially uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
- Fecal incontinence
- Muscle spasms
- Pain during intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal flatulence
Performing Kegel exercises is straightforward:
- Identify your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop urinating midstream or preventing gas expulsion.
- Once you’re familiar with these muscles, practice tightening and relaxing them. Tighten for a count of 3, then relax for a count of 3. Remember to breathe deeply and maintain focus throughout the exercise.
- Repeat this process 8-10 times, 2-3 times a day.
If you need additional guidance, consider consulting a pelvic floor physical therapist who can help you restore and strengthen these muscles.
8. Look into Mindfulness-Based Stress Relief
Menopausal women may experience anxiety and depression. While antidepressants can help, they might also cause side effects such as increased cholesterol.
Research has shown a positive association between mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi and reduced cardiovascular disease risk during menopause.
Mindfulness isn’t limited to yoga or meditation — it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and it’s free! Here’s a quick guide:
- Set aside 5-10 minutes in your schedule for mindfulness.
- Find a quiet space where you can sit or lie down.
- Clear your mind.
- Focus on the present moment.
- Take an inventory of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- Breathe deeply.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to practicing mindfulness. There are numerous techniques, free apps, classes, and resources available to help you find what works best for you.
A 2016 study showed that present-moment awareness is linked to increased stress resilience, so start exploring mindfulness techniques and begin reducing stress in your life.
9. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils and botanicals for health benefits and has been associated with alleviating menopause symptoms.
A 2021 review analyzed placebo-randomized controlled trials and identified 4 studies that demonstrated positive effects of aromatherapy on menopausal symptoms.
In a 2018 clinical trial involving 100 menopausal women, lavender aromatherapy significantly reduced the subjects’ symptoms.
10. Get Acupuncture
Consider acupuncture as another alternative therapy option. This traditional practice involves inserting thin needles into specific stress and pressure points on the body, and is commonly used for pain management.
A 2019 study found that acupuncture helped reduce hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disruptions in menopausal women.
11. Consider Dietary Supplements
Supplements can be helpful herbal remedies that address nutritional gaps and alleviate menopause symptoms.
What herbal supplements are good for menopause? Some herbal supplements commonly used for menopause include:
- Dong Quai: Traditionally used to promote blood health, it is believed to reduce hot flashes, although scientific studies have not yet confirmed this.
- Ginseng: Known for its mood-boosting properties, ginseng may also help relieve stress caused by anxiety and depression.
- Black Cohosh: This herb may help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
- Red Clover: Rich in isoflavones, red clover is reported to relieve hot flashes for some women and may help prevent bone loss, though more research is needed.
- Evening Primrose Oil: A source of gamma-linolenic acid, which can help balance hormones.
- Vitamin D: Important for bone health; just a few minutes of sunlight each day should suffice.
- Vitamin E: Similar to ginseng, vitamin E is associated with reduced stress levels.
- Calcium: Essential for bone health; osteoporosis can begin around the time of menopause, making calcium supplementation important.
It’s important to note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Always read labels carefully, paying attention to ingredients (watch for fillers and dyes) and be skeptical of unrealistic claims. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your supplements.
What to Avoid
Certain eating habits can lead to the early onset of menopause symptoms. It is best to keep your body happy and healthy, particularly as you notice irregular periods and increased frequency of hot flashes when perimenopause sets in.
Avoid the below to give your body the best chance at encountering menopause with ease.
1. Refined Sugar & Carbs
In the United States, it’s common to consume excessive amounts of fast-digesting carbs and refined sugars on a daily basis. While these may provide a temporary energy boost, the subsequent crash as the body processes them can lead to emotional instability and irritability.
As you probably are aware, sugar is highly addictive. Considering the potential for weight gain during menopause, it’s best to avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates whenever possible.
Opt for the natural sweetness found in fruits, and enjoy the occasional dessert as a treat.
2. Trigger Foods
What foods make menopause worse? Foods that make menopause worse include:
- Caffeinated foods and beverages (e.g., chocolate, coffee, and soda)
- Unhealthy high-fat foods (e.g., processed snacks, fries, and ice cream — note that fatty foods rich in omega-3s are not on this list)
- Spicy foods
When you can, avoid consuming too much of these foods and instead focus on a diet rich in clean proteins, healthy fats, fibrous veggies, and antioxidant-rich fruits.
3. Late-Night Snacking
Health professionals disagree somewhat about eating before bedtime. Some research suggests that a healthy snack before bed could improve sleep quality.
However, reactivating the stomach’s metabolic processes can sometimes trigger menopause symptoms like hot flashes.
If you’re inclined to have a snack before bed, opt for something healthy and keep the portion size small. Don’t be afraid to listen to your own body — if even a healthy snack right before going to sleep gives you heartburn or aggravates your symptoms, adjust accordingly.
Menopause is a natural process that can be uncomfortable and distressing for many women. Natural remedies can help alleviate the symptoms of lower estrogen levels in the body, while also avoiding the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.
What is the best natural remedy for menopause? The best natural remedies for menopause are maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising, and practicing mindfulness. And as a bonus, these will not only reduce menopause symptoms, but also improve your overall quality of life.
Since research in this area is still in its early stages, we recommend consulting with a healthcare provider like the doctors and health coaches at Sano Health. We can help guide you through the available remedies to determine what works best for you.
When you become a Sano Health Club member, our qualified specialists will take into account your own history, what medications you already take, and many other factors to develop a holistic plan.
Schedule your appointment today!
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