Menopause may signal the end of periods, but with it comes a whole host of other issues like hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings. But before you run out and buy up a basket full of medicine, check your pantry for these miracle foods that treat menopause symptoms naturally.
Foods for hot flashes
Hot flashes are pretty darn annoying, and because they can be triggered by a range of different factors — like alcohol, stress, and excess weight — it's not always possible to predict the onset of one.
If you wait long enough, the hot flash will pass, but if you want to nip it in the bud, try some of these goodies.
Miso, tofu, and soy milk
In 2012, a group of University of Deleware researchers analyzed 19 studies involving 1,200 women and found that isoflavone, an estrogen-like compound found in soy, can do wonders for reducing the frequency of a woman's hot flashes.
They determined that women who had more than 54 milligrams of soy isoflavone every day for anywhere between six months and a year had not only decreased the number of hot flashes by 20 percent but also reduced the severity by 26 percent.
To put that in perspective, two 16-ounce glasses of soy milk or 7 ounces of tofu give you about 50 milligrams of isoflavone. Cooking up a big batch of miso soup and adding a hefty serving of tofu should set you up nicely.
Women who ate a Mediterranean diet, which is made up primarily of "vegetables, fruits, and beans, as well as cereal-based products like whole-grain pasta, bread, and brown rice," decreased their hot flashes and night sweats by 20 percent, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Research seems to say there could be a link between caffeine and hot flashes, but if you need your daily dose of caffeine, herbal tea — like green tea — might just do the trick. Some women have found that making the switch from coffee to tea can make flashes "cooler."
Foods for mood swings
Another annoying part of menopause that older women battle with? Mood swings. Doctors believe that menopausal mood fluctuations are a result of see-sawing hormones. To level them out, try adding these foods to your diet.
Dark leafy greens are chock-full of folate, which can function as a mood stabilizer. A piece by Dr. Simon Young in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience reads that a folate deficiency might result in a depressed mood.
So the next time you're feeling blue, think green!
Salmon, sardines, and tuna
Like greens, fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna are all hiding a mood-stabilizing ingredient. In this case, it's omega-3 fatty acids.
British scientists gave participants a daily dose of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), a nutrient in omega-3s, and saw a reduction in symptoms of 50 percent. "Feelings of sadness and pessimism, inability to work, sleeplessness and low libido," were all factors that were positively impacted by the introduction of EPA.
Kiwi and oranges
Kiwis are known to contain many beneficial compounds including the mood-boosting hormone serotonin. These furry fruits have also been shown to benefit sleep quality in adults with sleeping problems. Neat, huh?
Oranges, like greens, contain folate, so be sure to enjoy a big glass of OJ in the morning.
Foods for insomnia
During menopause and even perimenopause (the period before menopause), insomnia can become a concern. Try introducing these foods into your diet and see if they put the issue to rest — literally.
Mashed potatoes and bread
Getting the okay to eat potatoes and bread? This sounds like the dream!
If your body is telling you it's craving white carbs (and when isn't it?), it could signal that you're in desperate need of tryptophan, an amino acid found in these foods. Your body uses the tryptophan to make serotonin, which, as mentioned previously, can aid in establishing a good sleeping pattern.
Tip: Eat carbs in the evening
You might have heard the advice that it's not good to eat right before bed, but according to Japanese researchers, doing so might actually be good for you.
“If you want to be an early bird, habitual carbohydrate-rich foods at dinner might help you,” said Makoto Akashi of Yamaguchi University. In other words, carb-loading during this meal can basically retrain your internal clock.