Menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s most often diagnosed, barring any other biological factors and post-surgical considerations, after twelve consecutive months without a menstrual period. In most women, it occurs between 40 and 50 years of age, with the average age being 51 in the US. In some cases, younger women have experienced menopause or menopausal symptoms. Those numbers have seen a steady increase over the last couple of decades but are not the norm.

At its most basic, menopause is a natural, biological process, but the physical symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood swings, weight gain, slowed metabolism, and persistent dry skin can be jarring and difficult to deal with, no matter what age they begin.

Emotional symptoms that often accompany the annoying physical symptoms can disrupt sleep, aid in the lowering of energy levels, or greatly impact your overall emotional well-being. The good news is there are effective treatments that can combat or, in some cases, eliminate some of the discomfort. The best treatment doesn’t come from a bottle. The best treatment stems from you. It’s a commitment to making smart lifestyle changes. For instance, changing your eating habits and getting regular exercise has been shown to improve overall health and act as a mood booster; thus, combating some of the discomfort and irritability associated with menopause.

Hormonal changes that occur with menopause cause the body to respond with often annoying and uncomfortable symptoms. The food and nutrition guidelines outlined below will help you get through this stage with ease and little, if any, discomfort.

Two hormones – testosterone and serotonin – are essential hormones in our bodies. Testosterone helps to preserve muscle and bone quality. Serotonin is a natural mood booster. It also assists with persistent sleep problems and helps to alleviate the symptoms of hot flashes. Most of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive system. There are several ways in which you can increase your serotonin levels. They include strength training exercises and pampering your intestinal flora with superfoods.

The list below is chock-full of good-for-you superfoods that will help ease your menopausal symptoms:

  1. Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and peppers are rich in phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, and fiber – all of which help cleanse the body.
  2. Flax seeds are rich in lignans, which help maintain the body’s estrogen activity.
  3. Pecans flax is rich in healthy fats and helps to boost the manufacturing of serotonin.
  4. Sunflower seeds provide amino acids that prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone tissue. Eat them in their natural state, lightly toasted, or soaked.
  5. Green peas contribute other phytoestrogens that aid in maintaining the health of the intestinal flora.
  6. They’re also rich in proteins and necessary for bone formation.
  7. Whole grains like wheat, legumes, chia seeds, rye combat constipation.
  8. Dairy products reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.
  9. Magnesium helps combat fatigue and insomnia that’s associated with menopause.

By Luisa Samaniego