You may feel as if your body is out of control and you never know what unpleasant surprise it may hold in store for you. Maybe you awaken in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, or you suffer from irritability, annoying mental ‘fuzziness,’ and memory lapses. First, remember that menopause doesn’t last forever. Then try these approaches for relief in the meantime.
Say yes to soy
‘ Eat 200 to 250 g of tofu every day. Tofu is high in phytoestrogens’compounds with mild estrogen-like qualities that have been found to ease menopausal symptoms. Certain kinds of phytoestrogens, called isoflavones, found in soy products can help ease hot flashes and vaginal dryness. The recommended amount is 60 mg a day of isoflavones, which is what you’ll get by eating 200 to 250 g of tofu.
‘ One 50-mg supplement of isoflavones, taken daily, can meet most of your needs when you can’t eat a lot of tofu. Look for brands that contain genistein and daidzein.
‘ Flaxseeds are another source of phytoestrogens. Grind some in a spice grinder and add 1 to 2 tablespoons to cereal or yogurt.
Don’t sweat it
‘ To help control hot flashes and night sweats, take 1⁄2 to 1 mL of black cohosh in tincture form two to four times a day. To make it more palatable, add the tincture to half a glass of juice or water. Research has shown that the herb helps control hot flashes by lowering blood levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), which dilates blood vessels and sends heat to the skin. You might get other benefits as well, since some women have found that black cohosh can relieve vaginal dryness, nervousness, and depression. For maximum effectiveness, take black cohosh for 6 weeks, then take four weeks off before resuming it again. Then repeat the cycle’6 weeks on, 4 weeks off.
‘ To tame night sweats, take 3 to 15 drops sage tincture three times a day in a half-cup water or tea. The genus name of this herb, Salvia, comes from the Latin salvere (to heal), and the extract of salvia leaves has been used to treat more than 60 different health complaints. The herb has astringent qualities that can help quell profuse sweating.
‘ Some women find that taking vitamin E can help to relieve hot flashes and night sweats as well as mood swings and vaginal dryness. The recommended dose is 800 mg a day (400 mg twice a day). Consult your doctor before you start taking it regularly. This is especially important if you have diabetes, bruise easily, or have high blood pressure.
‘ To help stay cool, wear lightweight clothing made of natural fibers. And carry a small, battery-powered fan with you to cool off the hot flashes.
‘ Some women find that taking a tepid bath in the morning for 20 minutes prevents hot flashes all day long.
‘ Increase the amount of aerobic exercise you get until you’re getting at least twenty minutes a day. Besides helping you lose weight, exercise has other positive effects for women going through menopause. Studies show that daily vigorous physical activity decreases hot flashes and night sweats, helps improve mood and sleep, and improves the balance of hormone levels. Weight-bearing activities like walking, running, and resistance training also help keep your bones sturdy.
Stay chaste (but not in that way)
‘ The berries of the chaste tree have been used by women for some 2,000 years. They help restore progesterone levels, which decrease significantly during menopause. Chaste tree may be particularly useful for combating very heavy bleeding, which some women experience during perimenopause. It may also help with other symptoms, including hot flashes and depression. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of a standardized extract once a day.
‘ If you’ve been getting hot flashes, stay away from alcohol, coffee, spicy foods, and hot drinks. Many of these foods are triggers.
‘ To help prevent accelerating bone loss’osteoporosis‘make sure you get enough protein. It doesn’t take much chicken, fish, or meat to supply your daily requirement for protein. As long as you have a serving that’s about equal to the size of a deck of cards, you’re getting enough. Also make sure you get 1,500 to 2,000 mg of calcium per day plus vitamin D. Low-fat dairy products are good sources. A cup of skim milk, for instance, provides 300 mg of calcium, as well as supplemental vitamin D. But to be on the safe side, take 1,500 mg in supplement form a day.
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