Home Supporting structure How Plant Foods Can Help Relieve Perimenopause Symptoms

How Plant Foods Can Help Relieve Perimenopause Symptoms



Hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, anxiety, low libido, forgetfulness and weight gain are just some of the symptoms affecting women in the preceding phase of life. menopause. These symptoms can last for several years before menopause occurs, in a transitional phase known as perimenopause (which technically means around menopause).

During perimenopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate, affecting all parts of the body, from bones, skin, and hair to your muscle makeup, cholesterol levels, and even brain function. Many women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for relief, but HRT is not for everyone and, in the end, it only delays the inevitable onset of menopause. MIn contrast, anyone can make a change in their diet and lifestyle, and several key plant foods have been shown to help relieve symptoms of perimenopause.

Phytoestrogens – Plant power for hormonal health

Phytoestrogens are one of the most important plant compounds for managing symptoms of perimenopause. These naturally occurring substances found in foods such as soybeans and flax seeds have a molecular structure similar to that of human estrogen, but are hundreds of times weaker than our own hormones. and therefore protect against some of the effects of fluctuating estrogen. Rather than being a synthetic hormone replacement, they instead help modulate fluctuating estrogen levels in the body.

Hot flashes, irregular periods, brain fog, forgetfulness, bad mood: all of these different symptoms of perimenopause are caused by an imbalance in the normal levels of estrogen and progesterone. We generally think of postmenopausal women to have low estrogen levels – and that’s true, but in the early stages of perimenopause, many women actually have low progesterone levels. The ovaries no longer release an egg in each cycle, which means that there is no trigger for the production of progesterone. The result is much lower progesterone and relatively higher estrogen. Over time, estrogen levels also begin to drop, which makes it easier to stop periods.

This is where the power of phytoestrogens comes in. When estrogen is relatively high (thanks to low progesterone), phytoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors in cells throughout the body, blocking some of the more potent human estrogens.

When estrogen is low, phytoestrogens can at least provide a weak estrogen-like effect to cells, thus helping to alleviate the lack of human estrogen.

Due to these modulating effects, phytoestrogens are considered to work the same way as SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) drugs.

The 3 different types of phytoestrogens

Soy is the most well-known source of phytoestrogens, but there are actually 3 different categories of these compounds and a wide range of plant food sources.

Isoflavones: the most well-known type of phytoestrogen. Found in soybeans (also known as edamame), chickpeas, aduki beans, kidney beans, and red clover.

Soy isoflavones are the most studied type of isoflavone. Studies show they have a protective effect on bones, can reduce hot flashes and promote cholesterol balance. Maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance is essential for cardiovascular health, as we’ll discuss later in this article.

In traditional East Asian cultures, it is believed that regular consumption of fermented soy products like tofu, miso, tempeh, and soy sauce is the reason why women experience such an incidence. lower in symptoms of perimenopause, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and breast and uterine cancer. . Fermentation in soy makes it easier to digest because natural bacteria have already started to break down the fiber and protein in soy. Eating traditional soy foods several times a week is the best way to increase your intake of soy isoflavones rather than relying on the heavily processed soy extracts found in ready meals.

Fill up on isoflavones with hummus, bean salads, bean chili and red clover sprouts.

Lignans: Flax seeds (also known as flax seeds) and sesame seeds are by far the richest suppliers of this type of phytoestrogen. Flaxseed is a virtual superfood in itself being a key source of soluble fiber, protein, and one of the highest plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid, the essential omega-3 fatty acid. Sesame seeds are high in calcium and lignans, making them an ideal food for supporting bone health after menopause.

Other sources of lignans include broccoli, cashews, Brussels sprouts, green beans, white and red cabbages, pears, and green peppers. Eating a diverse range of vegetables, nuts, fruits and seeds is a guaranteed way to benefit from a wide variety of lignans, which in addition to helping relieve symptoms of perimenopause are also known to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant Actions.

Coumestans are most readily found in red clover and red clover sprouts, sprouted alfalfa, and mung bean sprouts. These can be grown at home or purchased ready-to-eat at full-service grocery stores. Keep in mind that soybeans and bean sprouts can easily harbor harmful bacteria, so always follow growing instructions if you are sprouting at home and eating store-bought sprouts before the expiration date. Pregnant women and those at high risk of disease should cook soybeans and sprouts to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.

Hormonal detox and herbal diet

The hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause can put additional strain on the liver, the body’s main detoxifying organ. Hormones, alcohol, drugs and toxins of all kinds are processed by the liver through two routes. The first path, called Phase 1, involves the biotransformation of old hormones and toxins, making them more water soluble and ready for Phase 2. In the second way, toxins and hormones are bound to a carrier substance and transported out of the body via the kidneys or intestines.

Both routes are based on abundant supplies of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. The main sources of these nutrients include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, arugula). These provide glucosinolates, compounds that specifically support enzymes working in the detoxification of phase 1 estrogen.
  • Turmeric: powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
  • Brightly colored berries like cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, haskapberries and strawberries.
  • Sulfur vegetables: onions, garlic, leeks.
  • Plant proteins containing sulfur found in soybeans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, spirulina, kidney beans, peas and chickpeas.

Wanting to include as many different colored fruits and vegetables as possible gives your liver the tools it needs to process and detoxify the old hormones in use, and in turn, can help ease symptoms of perimenopause.

Phytoestrogens Benefit Heart Health

In addition to their hormone-modulating and bone-protective effects, phytoestrogens play an essential role in cardiovascular health. Before menopause, estrogen provides many benefits to the cardiovascular system, helping to maintain the flexibility of blood vessels and reducing inflammation and plaque build-up in the arteries. The effects are so strong that the rates of high blood pressure (hypertension) are much higher in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women.

Heart disease is the leading global cause of death in women, largely due to the loss of these protective effects of estrogen after menopause. Incorporating phytoestrogens alongside other antioxidant nutrients can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

A Mediterranean style diet is known to provide cardiovascular protection thanks to the high levels of antioxidants in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and good quality olive oil. Swapping sugary sodas for herbal teas and green teas can also help. Green tea is rich in polyphenols known to protect cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.

At the end of the line: Plant-Based Phytoestrogens Help Manage Perimenopause symptoms

To reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats and protect heart and bone health before and after menopause, consume plant sources of phytoestrogens from all three categories (isoflavones, lignans, coumestans). These foods offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and estrogen-like benefits, helping to modulate hormone levels and protect cells from damage.

For more content like this from Beet check out the articles Here is the Truth About Soy and Breast Cancer and Health and Nutrition on the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet.