Often Oestrogen gets a bad wrap, this is because, it is often present in too high concentrations or balance especially in early to mid peri-menopause, and this is where we have mainly focused thus far. However Oestrogen is an extremely beneficial hormone and as we head into later peri-menopause and post-menopause, its loss is often the reason we experience symptoms.
The positive effects of oetsrogen includes:
Mood stability and healthy sleep cycles – it sensitises the brain to oxytocin and dopamine, and also triggers the release of serotonin and melatonin
the moistness and integrity of your vagina,
The elasticity of skin
Strength of bone,
The fullness of your breasts & bum
Healthy metabolic rate,
So you can see that many of the things that pop up in later stages for the menopause transition are because of the lack of this hormone. The good news is that if we are living and eating well, we can reduce the effects and our help our body adapt to the lack of it.
A diet rich in plant compounds with a ‘phytoestrogen’ action can help balance and manage hormonal driven symptoms of peri-menopause. In early peri-menopause these compounds sit on the cellular receptor sites and essentially interrupt the body’s feedback loop , so you do not produce more oestrogen when you are in an oestrogen dominant state due to low progesterone. Later when closer to the menopause and when post menopausal , these compounds can also protect heart and bones, improve oxidative stress and other symptoms. At this stage they actually give you the protective effect of oestrogen that you need. Phyto-oestrogens are weaker than the toxic xeno-oestrogens in the environment and also weaker than our own hormones, and so they do not have the detrimental effect of excess oestrogen. Their very weakness makes them balancing. The list below shows the different types of phytoestrogen compounds and where they are found in food. adding a variety of these into your daily diet may help you manage symptoms and ease your transition.
Isoflavones: Soy beans Alfalfa Red Clover Parsley Chickpeas Mung beans Whole-grains
Lignans : Linseeds Flaxseeds Rye Millet Sesame seeds Tahini Seaweeds Buckwheat Whole-grains Fruits/veg
Coumestrols: Soy sprouts Alfalfa Red Clover Broad beans Mung beans Red beans Split peas Olives
Phytosterols: Olives Sunflower seeds, Soy beans Pumpkin kernels
i have a wee bug-bear about the popular keto and paleo diets, because although they might make some symptoms better short term, these diets are robbing us of a valuable group of foods for the management of our hormonal symptoms, never mind actually addressing gut health!
If you feel that you can not eat some of these foods because of gut health or autoimmunity, it’s time to book an appointment with me!