On World Menopause Day, it is a day to keep the conversation going on a topic that has been hidden in the shadows for too long!
Menopause can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing and it’s vital that we break the stigma attached to it and support is provided for the many who need it. Encouragingly Governments and companies are starting to take notice and realise what an impact menopause can have on women. All credit to everyone who has worked so hard to start breaking taboos and making menopause care a reality.
This year the International Menopause Society have chosen the theme of cognitive and mood . . . and so we turned to leading nutritionist, Sue Bedford, to share more on menopause and some mood boosting foods that are great to include in a menopause diet . . .
During the perimenopause and menopause, your moods can fluctuate dramatically, which can be unpredictable and difficult to manage
It is critical to consume a healthy, balanced, nutrient-rich diet before, during, and after menopause because a lack of certain essential nutrients may affect mood due to nutrient deficiencies and poor gut absorption (which can impact on mental health).
Here are five excellent mood-boosting foods
Avocados are high in nutrients and a great source of fibre. They also contain over 20 vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, as well as healthy fats like oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega 3 fatty acid). Avocados contain beta-sitosterol, which may help to regulate the stress hormone cortisol. Avocados also contain magnesium, a mineral that has many functions in the body and is especially important for mood. It is known as the “happy mineral” because it not only promotes heart health and prevents diabetes, but it also calms the nervous system, improves mood, and reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms. Magnesium is necessary for calcium control, which is important for bone health and is relevant to menopause.. Magnesium is important for a good night’s sleep. Low levels of magnesium can interfere with your sleep pattern. A lack of sleep can lead to low mood, which can lead to feeling anxious. Why not try making some smashed avocado on sourdough for breakfast or a sparkly guacamole dip with pomegranate seeds?
Leafy Greens – B vitamins and folate are found in spinach, kale, and broccoli. Low mood has been associated with deficiencies in specific B vitamins because these deficiencies may prevent the body from producing enough serotonin. Folate, vitamins B3, B6, and B12 are crucial B vitamins, thus consuming these leafy greens can help support your B vitamin levels. These nutrients are also necessary for a healthy liver, which is part of what keeps certain hormones like oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in check and in balance. Therefore, a menopausal woman who has a healthy, happy liver is likely to be as well.
Turkey – Turkey is great nutritionally as it is low in saturated fat and provides a good amount of B vitamins, protein, zinc and selenium. It also contains Tryptophan which is an amino acid that cannot be made by the body but is a natural precursor to serotonin (known as the happy chemical) – an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the body. Serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells, it is thought to be active in constricting smooth muscles, and it contributes to wellbeing and happiness, among other things. As the precursor for melatonin, it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal body-clock. Fancy a warm turkey salad, turkey stir fry or soup?
Soy products – Tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, is abundant in soy products like tofu and edamame beans. Soybeans have a low glycaemic index, which means they won’t give you a sudden boost in energy that sends your mood into a tailspin. ‘Dietary oestrogens,’ commonly referred to as phytoestrogens, are present in soy products. The health and mood of menopausal women may be improved by phytoestrogens, which are thought to subtly increase oestrogen levels.
Salmon and oily fish – contain Omega 3 Essential Fatty acids (EFA’S) – are essential for our overall mental health and brain function throughout the menopause, especially the omega-3 fats present in olive oil, oily salmon, sardines, avocados, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods. The anti-inflammatory properties of these foods are mostly responsible for the benefits. Memory loss, anxiety, depression, and brain fog are all caused by chronic inflammation. These important fats aid in the growth of new brain cells, reduce inflammation in the brain, protect against depression, and help improve mood and memory.
Do you experience brain fog and/or low mood? How do you cope with these symptoms? We would love to hear from you at [email protected]