As nature intended – easy, all-natural ways to help combat the symptoms of menopause
A major new study based on international data has confirmed direct links between breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.
The research, published in leading medical journal The Lancet, revealed that one in 50 women taking the most common form of combined oestrogen and progestogen for five or more years will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is suggested that the treatment is responsible for one in every 20 diagnoses.
The use of HRT to help alleviate symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats, has long been linked to the disease, and, to a lesser extent, ovarian cancer. For women looking to avoid the treatment, there are a range of all-natural alternatives that could help.
Read on to discover how to pack a punch in combating the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause – naturally.
Go for plant-power
Phytoestrogens, or plant oestrogen, are substances that include isoflavones and occur naturally in plants. Their chemical structure is very similar to that of oestrogen produced by the body and they are thought to help naturally manage hormone imbalances and keep those menopause symptoms in check. Foods that naturally contain phytoestrogens include chickpeas, nuts, lentils, berries and oats. They can also be found in herbs including liquorice root and red clover.
There are a range of plants with properties thought to help support women through some of the common symptoms of menopause. Studies have shown that red clover contains isoflavones, the plant-based chemicals that produce oestrogen-like effects in the body. Black cohosh is derived from a plant in the buttercup family and is thought to help ease hot flushes. Ginseng is known as a traditional natural energizer and could help with fatigue and anxiety.
All about Omega-3s
Getting a serve of good fats can help ease hot flushes and depression. Tuck into foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, including fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna, and flax and chia seeds. These can be sprinkled on salads or added to your breakfast cereal, porridge or smoothies. Taking a supplement can also help to get your Omega-3s.
A well-balanced diet rich in lean protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables can help support bone health and fend off the stubborn weight-gain that can occur due to hormone levels changing. Make sure you opt for wholegrain foods including brown rice, whole wheat bread, barley and quinoa. Full of fibre, they can help lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose and keep your digestive system running smoothly.
As well as giving you some me-time to unwind and focus on your wellbeing, exploring essential oils, such as clary sage, geranium and lavender, for massage, reflexology or simply used in a diffuser, can aid relaxation, calm the nerves and help you nod off.
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can help reduce the risk of hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia. Herbal tea infusions, served chilled, help keep hydration levels up and can have other benefits too. For example, a cup of calming peppermint tea at bed time can help with relaxation and encourage sleep.
For more helpful advice and important information about menopause, listen to the Annual Menopause Special with Dr Sally Cockburn on Saturday, October 12 from 6pm.
Advice is for information only. Always see your doctor if you notice changes in your health.