Phytoestrogens – Dietary Oestrogens

Phytoestrogens, also called ‘dietary oestrogens’ are a diverse group of naturally occurring non-steroidal plant compounds that are structurally similar to the estradiol (17-β-estradiol) and have the ability to cause oestrogenic or/and anti-oestrogenic effects. Phytoestrogens get their name from the Greek word ‘phyto’ meaning plant and ‘estrogens’ meaning the hormone which gives fertility to the female mammals.

 

At molecular level, phytoestrogens are similar to oestrogens and this similarity allows them to mildly mimic and sometimes act as antagonists of oestrogen. Due to their chemical structure, phytoestrogens have a propensity to attach to a particular oestrogen receptor. This is thought to be one of the underlying mechanisms by which phytoestrogens compounds might elicit an effect in the body.

 

Phytoestrogens are considered to be milder than woman’s intrinsic oestrogen and exert their effects primarily through binding to oestrogen receptors . When oestrogen levels are high, phytoestrogens compete with oestrogen for receptor sites, reducing oestrogen ability to bind to receptors thereby lessening its effect. On the other hand, when oestrogen levels are low as in the peri or post menopause, phytoestrogens act as oestrogen supplements.

 

Phytoestrogens occur in plants and plant products that include soy beans, grains, seeds, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

 

Herbs that have phytoestrogen effects include Red Clover, Liquorice, Thyme and Verbena. Herbs that mimic the effects of estrogens include Black cohosh, Dong Quai and Ginseng.

 

 

Menopause

Menopause – Menopausal symptoms – Treatments – Holistic approach

Menopause is the ending of a woman’s monthly menstrual periods and ovulation. Every woman in the age group of 45 to 55 years is bound to go through the state of menopause and its associated hormonal disturbance. It is caused due to the deficiency of oestrogen hormone after the age of 40 when a woman begins to experience irregular periods which finally cease permanently.

 

Menopause brings with it a lot of associated symptoms like night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, sleeplessness, irritability, joint pain etc. This is also the time when women tend to fall prey to various diseases like osteoporosis, hypertension and heart diseases.

 

Using holistic approach, the following steps should be considered in order to tackle menopausal symptoms.

 

 

BALANCED DIET

Balanced diet is very important for maintaining a healthy body. All foods that we consume leave either an acidic or alkaline ash when the digestive process has been completed. During menopause, changes in diet can play a crucial role in how a woman gets through this stage of her life.

 

Diet to help with Hot Flushes

a)  Water is an important nutrient for the body and therefore at least 1.5 litres of water should be consumed daily.

b)  Intake of coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and spicy food should be reduced.

A qualified nutritionist can help devise a simple and suitable diet plan.

 

 

Diet to help with Mood Swings:

The hormone fluctuations that take place during menopause can result in mood swings. Depression caused by reduced serotonin is one example.

a)  Eating carbohydrate-rich foods can help raise serotonin levels. Wholegrain breads and cereals should be consumed and white / processed flour products should be avoided.

b)  Vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and sprouts aid digestion and cleanse the arteries.

c)  Eating oily fish that contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids helps with the oxygen and blood circulation in the body.

 

 

LIFESTYLE CHANGES / EXERCISE

Exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen muscles and bones. Regular exercise which includes at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity helps strengthen muscles and joints. Exercise not only improves circulation and heart function but it also improves body’s efficiency in using oxygen and nutrients. Regular exercise also helps in dealing with irritability and anxiety associated with menopause.

 

 

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Alternative therapies including Hypnosis, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Bowen Therapy and Yoga can be utilised for tackling menopausal symptoms.

 

 

HERBAL REMEDIES

Several herbs have been found to be beneficial for the menopausal symptoms which include  dry skin, aches and pains, irritability, mood swings and depression. A qualified herbalist can help devise a simple and suitable herbal combination.

 

 

HOMEOPATHY

Homeopathy focuses on the person’s overall health by giving the body energy to heal itself and is therefore effective for mental, physical and emotional conditions.

Stress, mood swing, liver function and irritability can be effectively cured by using homeopathic remedies and these factors in turn have a positive effect on the overall menopausal condition.