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Using Diet to Fight the Symptoms of Menopause

By HealthLife Contributor
Updated: June 30, 2008
Referred to by some as "the change of life", menopause represents a stage in a woman's life when her menstrual cycle essentially stops and comes to an end. Menopause is a natural occurrence that takes place gradually over time, as the human body produces fewer and fewer hormones. Ovulation on the part of the ovaries also ends, and estrogen levels decrease accordingly. Menopause typically takes place between the ages of 45 and 60, and starts one year after a woman's final period.

A woman's body actually begins preparing itself for menopause about a decade before the process of menopause actually begins. Certain aspects of a woman's body begin to slow and shut down as less estrogen is produced. The symptoms of this stage, known as perimenopause, include dry skin, increased wrinkling of the skin, trouble sleeping, mood swings, hot flashes, and unfortunately, weight gain, which results from the fact that older people need less calories, but often consume more calories than they should.

Women do not have to be held captive by the symptoms of menopause. There are ways of combating everything from the weight loss to the hot flashes associated with menopause. One of the best ways to deal with the symptoms of menopause is with a healthy diet, especially one that begins years before menopause starts. Consider the following now, rather than later:
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  • Cut back on the amount of fat you eat - Lowering your overall levels of dietary fat can not only work to keep a woman healthy, but the lower levels of dietary fat also reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the number cause of death amongst women. Don't lose all the fats though, as some forms of fat have actually been found to have anti-inflammatory qualities, and some can even be useful in lowering the effects of hot flashes.
  • Eat more phytoestrogens - As menopause approaches, a woman's levels of estrogen begin to drop. Certain foods contain phytoestrogens that can increase the health of a woman's heart by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol in their blood. Included amongst these beneficial foods are tofu, soy, nuts, and soybeans. These same compounds are also commonly found in nuts, berries, beans, bean sprouts, and whole-grain cereals.
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