The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.22.06


Forgive my neglect, eh?

Somehow, I missed the opportunity to dedicate a column to the fairer sex a short while ago in honor of International Woman's Day. I apologize profusely and will make up for it here.

Pardon the pun, but a "hot" topic of late is how to alleviate symptoms of menopause by eating appropriate foods. Due to my own climb up the age scale, I curiously witness female friends who escape to winter back porches every few minutes or so to alleviate the sweats and who fan themselves tableside with increased frequency.

I sympathize with the ladies who seem to be "flashing" all day and night and wish to help somehow. My suggestions that an aspirin may help are met with guffaws and stern looks while those in the know share an apparent contempt for those not in the game.

I've decided to list here a number of purported symptom-relieving ingredients in a risky attempt provide some form of aid.

There are many things you can do to minimize the symptoms of menopause, none the least of which is eating right.

Believe it or not healthy eating doesn't simply help prevent weight gain. It can also help mitigate some of the more challenging symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, irritability and mood swings.

A Recipe For Eating Right During Menopause

So how exactly does food related to menopausal symptoms? There are many nutrients in food that help nourish the body in ways that can lessen the severity of symptoms. In particular, foods that are high in a substance called phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals are beneficial for menopausal women.

Eating the right combination of foods can also help combat osteoporosis and heart disease. Women are more at risk for both these diseases during menopause.

So what are the nutrients that you need to consume during menopause?

  • Calcium: calcium is number one on the list because it helps combat osteoporosis. Women between the ages of 30 and 50 should be getting at least 1000 mg per day, and women over 50 should be getting 1200 mg of calcium every day. There are many sources of calcium in the diet including: yogurt, cheese, low-fat milk, broccoli and other leafy greens, salmon.

  • Lignans: lignans are a form of phytoestrogen, which your body can use to produce substances similar to estrogen. Hence, lignans can help combat hot flashes in some women. There are many foods jam packed full of lignans including fruits and vegetables, but your best source is flaxseeds. You can buy whole flaxseeds to add to meals or flaxseed oil at almost any store.

  • Magnesium: magnesium works together with calcium, enabling better absorption of calcium by the bones. Magnesium is also well noted for easing irritability and anxiety because it has a calming effect. It might even help you sleep better. You can get magnesium by eating almonds, cashews, kelp, and wheat bran.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: fatty acids can protect you from heart disease, and may even improve the symptoms of depression. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel all provide adequate levels of fatty acids. You should try to eat fish at least twice per week, or consider taking a supplement.

  • Vitamin E: vitamin E is great for combating breast tenderness, hot flashes, and even vaginal dryness. Vitamin E may also help improve the condition of your skin. The best sources include: asparagus, avocados, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, and vegetable oils.
Until next time…