Menopause – Can Natural plant-based products and food decrease the symptoms?
A personal experience – By Sharon Naude
Most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. I personally started to experience symptoms of menopause at the age of 46, which included irregular menstrual periods. At the age of 47, I also started to experience some hot flashes and the menstrual periods slowly started to disappear altogether.
Over the period of 2 years the hot flashes started to increase, and I would experience a sudden feeling of heat that seems to come from nowhere and spread throughout my body. I also started to experience sweating, palpitations and flushing of the face.
I always try to limit my intake of medication, and therefore never went to see a specialist for any hormonal treatment or medication to combat the symptoms of the menopause. I just honestly believed that the symptoms will gradually subside.
Early this year – I started taking Chaya Capsules on a regular basis as an immune booster and to increase my energy levels.
Now, 6 months after starting to take Chaya on a constant basis, I have come to realise that I have not experienced any symptoms of menopause at all for the last 3-4 months, and it dawned on me that the constant intake of Chaya might just have helped with the effects of menopause. I started to investigate this topic and I include herewith some interesting facts I found.
At around age 50, the ovaries stop producing estrogens. The adrenal glands (small organs on top of each kidney) continue to make estrogens, as does fat tissue. But the ovaries have produced the greatest share of the body’s estrogens for decades, and when they quit, the blood levels of estrogens drop dramatically.
Menopause can cause many changes in your body. The symptoms are the result of a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone in your ovaries. Symptoms may include hot flashes, weight gain, or vaginal dryness. Vaginal atrophy contributes to vagina dryness. With this, there can be inflammation and thinning of the vaginal tissues which adds to uncomfortable intercourse.
Does Food Play a Role?
Some have suggested that menopause was much easier for Asian women than for Westerners—at least while women followed traditional, mostly plant-based diets. Hot flashes have been reported by only about 10% of women in China 17.6% of women in Singapore, and 22.1% of women in Japan. In contrast, it is estimated that hot flashes are experienced by 75% of Western women over the age of 50.
Western women consume much more meat, and about four times as much fat, as women on traditional Asian rice-based diets, and only one-quarter to one-half the fiber. For reasons that have never been completely clear, a high-fat, low-fiber diet causes a rise in estrogen levels. Women on higher-fat diets have measurably more estrogen activity than do those on low-fat diets.
At menopause, the ovaries’ production of estrogen comes to a halt. Those women who have been on high-fat diets then have a dramatic drop in estrogen levels. The drop appears to be less dramatic for Asian women who have lower levels of estrogen both before and after menopause. The resulting symptoms are much milder or even nonexistent.
Comparing different diets:
More evidence of the diet link comes from a fascinating study by a medical anthropologist from the University of California who interviewed Greek and Mayan women about their experiences of menopause.
The Greek women were subsistence farmers. Menopause occurred at an average age of 47. About three-quarters of the Greek women had hot flashes, but they were considered normal events and did not cause the women to seek medical treatment.
The Mayan women lived in the southeastern part of Yucatan, Mexico. Menopause occurred earlier than in Greece or North America, at an average age of 42.
Unlike the experience of Greeks and Western Woman, hot flashes were totally unknown among Mayans, and, like the Japanese, they have no word for them. Midwives, medical personnel, and the women themselves reported that hot flashes simply do not occur, nor are they mentioned in books on Mayan botanical. The Mayan diet consists of corn and corn tortillas, beans, tomatoes, chaya, squash, sweet potatoes, radishes, and other vegetables, with little meat and no dairy products. Like the traditional Japanese diet, it is extremely low in animal products and low in fat in general.
The Greek diet, while rich in vegetables and legumes, also contains meat, fish, cheese, and milk, as does the cuisine of other countries in Europe and North America. Animal-based meals affect hormone levels rapidly and strongly, and undoubtedly contribute to the menopausal problems that are common in Western countries.
Treating Hot Flashes
- In addition to a low-fat, vegetarian diet which is strongly recommended for women who are experiencing hot flashes, regular aerobic exercise helps. A vigorous walk every day or so, or any equivalent physical activity, seems to ease hot flashes.
- Increase your intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin D. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important to prevent the bone loss that can occur during menopause.
- Although more well-known as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, research has shown that vitamin E can cool hot flushes, too. A 2007 study found that menopausal women taking 400mcg of vitamin E every day for four weeks had fewer hot flushes and that those flushes were less severe.
- Some people may find some B vitamins useful around the time of menopause. In 2018, a group of researchers reported that “the role of compounds from the group of B vitamins cannot be overestimated in the menopause.” They add that a deficiency in these vitamins during this time of transition could lead to adverse health outcomes.
- Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. They have been found to be beneficial in combatting symptoms and conditions caused by estrogen deficiency. This may be of particular benefit to premenopausal and post-menopausal women.
- Drinking enough water may help prevent weight gain, aid in weight loss, and reduce symptoms of dryness.
- Other important Minerals include Magnesium and Calcium.
Hormone supplements – Risks to consider
For those women who are considering hormone supplements, some preparations may be safer than others. Estrogens commonly prescribed by physicians contain significant amounts of estradiol, which is one of the forms of estrogen that has scientists and many postmenopausal women concerned about cancer risk. A different estrogen, estriol, appears to be safer. The best evidence indicates that estriol does not increase cancer risk.
To me the conclusion I have reached, is that the regular intake of Chaya and its Vitamin, Mineral, Amino Acid and Phytochemical content definitely helped me with the effects of menopause . The combination of these nutrients, also help my body to optimally absorb these vitamins and minerals, which is not always possible when drinking single supplements.
How Can Chaya help?
Chaya contains the important Vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamins B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin D, as well as important minerals like Calcium.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. They have been found to be beneficial in combatting symptoms and conditions caused by estrogen deficiency. This may be of particular benefit to premenopausal and post-menopausal women.
Drinking a combination of these Vitamins and Minerals together also lead to an increased absorption rate of the nutrients in the body. In other words, in order for your body to absorb Magnesium and Zinc, you also need Vitamin D and this is true for other Vitamins and Minerals as well.
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