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Chiva-Som’s Renee Grandi Shares Her Secrets to Naturally Support Menopause

It’s time to talk menopause.  The more you can understand about the transition and how to naturally support your body through this time, the smoother the conversion.  This transition has somewhat been vilified, however, many other cultures found this time to be a new stage of life with vigour to follow – let’s go with that. 

It is essential to nourish and support your body as much as possible whilst going through this transition, by eating the right foods, supplementing with herbs and implementing lasting lifestyle changes.

Your diet will play a huge role in how your body processes menopause.  During this time your natural sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) are beginning to reduce their production, due to depleted ovarian follicles.  Oestrogens are essential to bone formation and integrity, as well as supporting healthy breast tissue, mood, sleep and cardiovascular functionality. 

Fortunately, the more information you can acquire about supporting your biochemistry, the more control you have with your hormonal shift.  This is your time to holistically nourish and support your body, take a hold of the reins and look after yourself with the immense love and compassion you deserve.

Top nutrients to support menopause

Calcium rich foods

These are vital to support your bone density, structure and integrity which can become depleted in menopause.  Aim to add a daily source of calcium rich foods into your diet.

Food sources:  organic, well-source dairy, eggs,

Tip:  Try to avoid excessive black tea or coffees as this can deplete bone mineralization.

Phyto-oestrogen Rich Foods

Phyto-oestrogen rich foods compete with oestrogen receptors and help to balance out hormonal fluctuations.  These foods have been shown to decrease menopausal symptoms over 12-weeks if you substantially increase your phytoestrogens. Aim for a quarter of your daily caloric intake to be abundant in these food sources.  This is where your diet can really be nourishing and supportive to menopause symptoms and digestion due to their high fibre content. 

All phyto-oestrogen foods should be organically sourced – especially tofu and soy products!  There are 4 different types of phyto-oestrogen sources:  lignans, coumestrol, phytosterols, Isoflavones.  Mix them up daily so you can get the maximum benefits.

Lignans: Linseeds, rye, millet, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, seaweed, buckwheat

Coumestrol: Soy sprouts, alfalafa, red clover, green beans, mung beans, red beans, split peas

Phytosterols: Olives, soy beans, pumpkin kernels

Isoflavones: Soy beans, alfalfa, red clover, parsley, chickpeas, mung beans and organic brown wholegrains

Tip: Get creative, get the ladies together for brunch, perhaps suggest that everyone is to bring a phytoestrogen rich dish! You can share recipes, cooking methods and have a good laugh.

Try to Avoid: Excessive caffeine, coffee or black teas. High sugar foods. Processed foods (keep it as wholefood as possible). Spicy foods as they may aggravate hot flushes. Eating or drinking too late before bed.

Herbs to Support Menopause

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage has traditionally been the go-to herb for menopausal women to reduce hot-flushes and promote stress reduction. It has been shown to bind to GABA receptors in the brain and positively impact the nervous system. Often menopause excessively stimulates the nervous system instigating hot-flushes, sweating, and anxiety.  Supplementation can improve memory retention, reduced stress and reduce excessive sweating without all the harsh side-effects! This is a great herb to make as a strong tea and ice it for those fiery moments.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is a calming and sedative herb, perfect for getting you that well deserved restful sleep.  Menopause often disrupts rejuvinative sleep due to night-sweats, hot-flushes, increased anxiety and nervousness.  A recent 2020 study demonstrates that supplementing Melissa officinalis can significantly improve sleep, sexual desire, heart palpitations, flushes, sweating and even joint pain.  If you feel constantly on edge with mood changes galore and a longing for a deep restorative sleep, lemon balm might just be the herb for you.

Note:  Herbs and nutrients can interfere with other medications; it is important to seek advice from a trained professional prior to starting alternative therapies.

Lifestyle Recommendations

Aim to ensure a healthy weight

This will support your body from every aspect and you’ll feel great working on yourself! If you’re feeling like weight just keeps packing on, fatigue is your new shadow and depression is lurking – it might be time to check your thyroid too.

Exercise daily

Get those endorphins going! You won’t ever regret a workout, you’ll feel strong, capable and ready to take on your next task.  Remember, you are worth it, your body is worth it.

Ensure adequate sunshine

This is by far the best way to get your Vitamin-D and the perfect excuse to immerse yourself in nature.  Nature really is essential for mental health and wellbeing.

Do things that make you feel genuinely happy.

Time to self-evaluate! What do you do for fun? What makes you feel genuinely happy? It’s time to start doing this on a daily basis, life is too short to waste it being insipid.

Find your female tribe!

Get together with other women your age, be amongst the strength of women – support them and they will support you. We have evolution behind us with this one, there’s nothing like spending time with your tribe. 

By Renee Grandi, Nutritionist and Naturopath at Chiva Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin, Thailand.

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