This is the third of a four part series on Menopause. In this article I want to
write about the many natural ways to deal with the symptoms of menopause.
An extensive study done a few years ago showed there are increased health risks attached to estrogen therapy and therefore treatment with estrogen becomes less and less of an option for many women.
A healthy diet decreases stress and increases your sense of well being. It can also reduce hot flashes and the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Choose a diet with a lot of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and moderate protein. Include calcium rich foods such as dark leafy vegetables and sesame or sunflower seeds.
Keep your consumption of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and MSG to
a minimum. These items exacerbate hot flashes. Moreover sugar, salt, caffeine and protein tend to bind with calcium making it unavailable to the bones.
Exercise will help reduce your stress. Many studies where exercise has been the only therapeutic added to a woman’s regime, have reported that hot flashes were reduced by 30 to 50 per cent. A mild to moderate muscle strengthening program will keep you firm and toned and help your heart stay healthy while also reminding your bones that they are needed.
For an aerobic effect try jogging, Stairmaster, or biking for 20 minutes every other day. Or try brisk walking for 45 minutes three times per week. A recent study showed that hot flashes were reduced by over 40 per cent when women used a stress reduction technique twice a day for 15 minutes and learned to do abdominal breathing when they felt a hot flash come on.
Stress is such a big factor in overall health. Learn techniques to help you reduce ongoing stress. Effective techniques include relaxation, audio tapes, abdominal breathing, and meditation. For ongoing results try five minutes of abdominal breathing three times a day. Come by my office for a free handout on abdominal breathing.
If you’re confused about the subject of menopause get together with some other women and have a pot luck or tea break and discuss what you need to talk about. There’s an excellent book by Christine Northrup MD called "The Wisdom of Menopause". This book is an extensive overview of many of the psychological and physical aspects of menopause. It’s well worth the read.
In my next column I’ll discuss supplements that help reduce menopausal symptoms.
Dr. Paulette Roscoe is a naturopathic physician who practices in Nanaimo.
She welcomes your calls at 754-1733.