This week we’re talking menopause. We’ve been reading Your Middle Years (Gill Books) by the wonderful Kate O’Brien (one of our favorite writers) and Paula Mee. ‘Growing old is inevitable,’ they say. ‘It’s how we deal with it that matters.’ Kate and Paula firmly believe that menopause needn’t be the herald of old age, wrinkles and infirmity, but a clarion call to be the best you have ever been. ‘We know our bodies better than ever before. We are living longer and are proving that age is no barrier to a full, vibrant life. It’s time to take control of our bodies and our lives and embrace the next act – the possibilities are endless.’
We love Kate and Paula’s suggestions for cruising through the middle years.Image Source
Shift Your Diet
As we move into our middle years, our nutritional needs change. Base your diet around a wide variety of wholefoods (avoid processed, ‘fast’ food and convenience foods). Where possible cook from scratch rather than reaching for a swift sandwich or ready-meal (it needn’t take long and the book suggests some great recipes for everyday eating). Enjoy fish and shellfish at least twice a week. Eggs are your friends – one a day is fine. If you eat meat, make sure it’s lean and ideally grassfed (the recommendation is for no more than 500g cooked lean red meat per week). Include milk and milk products (yoghurt, cheese, kefir). Add plenty of green vegetables. This is your bedrock.
The Top Meno-foods
Add these menopause superfoods to your diet.
- Eggs: a rich source of vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D. Great scrambled or poached for breakfast, as a frittata or tortilla for lunch or supper, or hard-boiled as a super-snack to keep your energy up.
- Seeds: (all types, particularly pumpkin and chia): high in a variety of minerals, essential fatty acids and a good protein source. Add to muesli, porridge, sprinkle over salads or pasta, enjoy as a snack. Dry-roasting brings out the flavour.
- Quinoa: a great source of amino acids, minerals and protein. A quick and filling replacement for refined carbs. Use for porridge in the morning, or for stirfries, salads, or as a replacement for rice/pasta.
- Legumes/pulses/beans: low in fat, high in protein and minerals, gluten-free and low GI (glycaemic index) for blood sugar management. There’s a huge range – from lentils and chickpeas, to butter beans and edamame. Use in stews, salads, hummus.
- Greek yoghurt: a great source of vitamins A and B12, plus minerals calcium, iodine and phosphorus. It’s a healthy snack, breakfast, pudding or sauce (add lemon juice and capers to make a sauce for smoked or fresh salmon). Note – check you get the authentic Greek yoghurt.
- Kefir: we all know that fermented foods are good for us, promoting healthy bacteria. You can make your own kefir by adding kefir grains (available online) to water or milk. Add to breakfast or simply drink.
- Nuts: a great mix of plant protein, healthy fats and fibre. High in a huge variety of vitamins and minerals. Almonds have the highest vitamin E levels, Walnuts contain the most omega-3. Add to breakfasts or make your own energy bars. Sprinkle over salads. A great energy snack.
- Sea vegetables: mineral-rich and low in calories, sea vegetables make great snacks – and can help with poor thyroid function. Sprinkle ready-ground seaweed over your food instead of salt.
- Green vegetables: bursting with vitamins and minerals, we all need to pile our plates high. Add to smoothies, salads, stir-fries, stews – anything!
Try Herbal Help
Herbs have been used for centuries, if not millennia to ease the plagues of menopause – hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and irritability. Always consult a qualified medical herbalist.
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): numerous studies support its power to ease symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability and sleep disturbances.
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis): a blood tonic, used to treat hot flashes and loss of libido.
- Chaste tree berries (Vitex agnus-castus): generally helps ease menopausal symptoms, taken over a period of time (at least six months).
- Sage (Salvia officianalis): a Swiss study found fresh sage leaves helped ease hot flashes and associated menopausal symptoms.
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense): contains isoflavones with oestrogen-like effects that may help hot flashes and other symptoms. Also a useful source of nutrients, including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C.
An Ayurvedic Easer
Try this time-trusted Ayurvedic home remedy that has been passed from mother to daughter for generations in India. It is excellent for removing menopausal imbalances and bloating. You can buy the ingredients from a good Asian food store or online.
- ½ tsp dill seed powder
- ¼ tsp dry ginger powder
- ¼ tsp ajwan powder
- 1 pinch asafoetida
- 1 tsp cumin seeds powder
- 1 tsp raw sugar cane
- 1 glass water
- 1 tsp aloe vera juice
Boil all the ingredients except the aloe vera juice for five minutes. Filter and leave to cool, then add the aloe vera juice. Take once daily for 14 days. You can then increase the dose to twice a day (after lunch and after evening meal) for up to three months.
Move Your Body
A healthy balance of aerobic and anaerobic (strength) exercise helps keep bones strong, muscles and joints in good working order and blood flowing freely. It’s important throughout life but in particular in our middle years to prevent bone loss, weight gain and improve mood. Think about long brisk walks, cycling, swimming, tennis, yoga and some resistance work. It’s important that you enjoy whatever you choose. Work your core with Pilates, build up flexibility (and promote relaxation) with yoga and don’t be afraid of weights – you will build strength, not hefty muscles.
Aromatherapy for the Middle Years
Of course, we’d like to suggest you also try out our own Wise Woman blend. Geranium essential oil helps cool down hot energy of all kinds — yes, that includes hot flashes! But it’s also all about calming emotions, soothing stormy thoughts, and easing aches and pains. Wise Woman helps to balance your hormones and keep you feeling healthy, sensual, and vibrant as your body transitions.
Menopausal insomnia? Peaceful Slumber can help – and it works beautifully in tandem with Wise Woman. The third part of the equation is Tension Tonic – for when that hormonal irritability and anxiety raises its head.
Also, try this DIY blend to add to a long sybaritic bath at the end of the day – it will help balance your hormones and emotions, and soothe you into restful sleep.
Balanced Woman Night-time Blend
This recipe makes 4 oz (112 gm) of Aromatherapy bath salt. It’s enough for two baths.
- 4 oz (112 gm) natural salt
- 1 teaspoon jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
- 2 drops Bergamot Mint (Mentha citrata)
- 2 drops Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
- 3 Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- 3 Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia)
- 2 Cedarwood virginana (Juniperus virginiana)
All you have to do is put your salt and jojoba into one 4 oz (112 gm) jar, and add your essential oils drop by drop, stirring as you go. Use a stainless steel spoon.
Your Middle Years by Paula Mee and Kate O’Brien (Gill Books) is available in paperback and Kindle form from Amazon and other good bookstores.