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Written by our Naturopath and Acupuncturist, Genya Fleischer

Menopause refers to the absence of menstrual bleeding for 12 months.

During menopause the majority of women will experience emotional and physical symptoms. The most common symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats. These occur between the age of 45-49 years of age and may last up to 10 years. Hot flushes may also be induced prematurely by surgery (e.g. a hysterectomy) or medication use such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Hot flushes are a sudden sensation of heat and sometimes associated with red , flushed face, sweating, rapid heart beat and chills. They may occur frequently (a dozen in an hour) or infrequently (just a couple of times a year). The severity of hot flushes also varies.

Hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause are not life threatening but they may cause distress and affect a woman’s quality of life. They can affect psychological health and cause mild depression, irritability and mood changes. They may also reduce the quality of a woman’s sleep or interfere with her work or social life.

Maintaining good overall emotional and physical health is an important aspect of coping with menopause and its symptoms including hot flushes. Menopausal women should therefore aim to :

  • Reduce caffeine
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy diet with a high calcium and low fat content
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day
  • Acupuncture: acupuncture may be effective in significantly reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flushes
  • Keep the body cool e.g. have a cool drink, use a fan or have a cool shower to cool off.
  • Dress in layers so that it is easy to remove some clothing when a hot flush is experienced
  • Breathe deeply and relax when you experience a hot flush
  • Avoid foods and beverages that trigger hot flushes (e.g. spicy foods, Hot drinks)
  • Use cotton sheets and sleep in a cool room.
  • INCLUDE Phyto-oestrogens in your daily diet intake

There are two main types of phyto-estrogens:

  • Isoflavones: found in legumes (red clover, chickpeas, lentils) and soy products (although it is important to note that some of the benefits may be lost through manufacturing).
  • Lignans: found in fruits, vegetables, seeds (linseed) and cereals (oats, barley).

If these strategies are not effective then medications can be considered.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment for menopausal women in which exogenous (external) oestrogen is administered. Combining oestrogen with progesterone reduces the risk of endometrial cancer compared to administering oestrogen .

The main reason that most women use HRT during menopause is for relief of hot flushes. HRT is effective in relieving hot flush symptoms in 75% of menopausal women. However, symptoms often recur when HRT ceases.

RECIPE

Below is a recipe including brussel sprouts and Tempeh. Tempeh is a form of soy. Soy is a valuable asset for menopausal women. Soy is a phytoestrogen—plant-based compounds acting as weak estrogens in the body—which are linked to reduced menopause symptoms and healthier bones . Avoid highly processed forms of soy and reach for edamame, tofu, tempeh, and soy-based dairy alternatives. Enjoy!!

BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND TEMPEH DISH

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil,
  • 120g tempeh, thinly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted peanuts, toasted
  • 2 lime wedges

Step 1

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add the tempeh; cook until very crispy and browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Step 2

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, salt, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and the remaining sesame oil in a medium bowl. Add the Brussel sprouts, and toss to coat. Divide the mixture between 2 bowls. Sprinkle with peanuts, and top with the tempeh slices. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!!


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