Menopause: Five ‘plant oestrogen-like foods’ to ease symptoms and reduce high blood sugar

Penny Lancaster went to see a GP to help with the menopause

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As the hormone oestrogen decreases while testosterone increases, weight gain is more likely around the waist and an increase of insulin resistance can occur. If type 2 diabetes develops, this can make managing menopause symptoms even more difficult. Menopausal symptoms can include hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), the experts at the NHS said. “Eating more plant-based foods that contain natural, plant oestrogen-like substances will help to lessen the effects of the menopause,” said Dr Brewer.

Oestrogen-like foods:

  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fresh fruits
  • Dark, leafy greens.

Dr Brewer expanded on the beans that would be especially good at easing symptoms of the menopause.

These included: beansprouts, chickpeas, and lentils; as for nuts, Dr Brewer recommended almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

When it comes to seeds, the best options are: flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.

READ MORE: Best supplements for menopause: The six vitamins and minerals to reduce symptoms

In terms of fresh fruit, Dr Brewer suggests incorporating more avocados, bananas, and apples into your diet.

Dark green, leafy vegetables include:

  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Bok choy.

Dr Brewer emphasised that menopause is associated with “a slowing of the metabolism”.

This will “make it more difficult to lose weight” if needs be, and obesity is a risk factor for high blood sugar (i.e. diabetes).

“If you haven’t had a recent check-up it’s a good idea to have your glucose level, blood pressure and cholesterol balance assessed,” advised Dr Brewer.

When a woman is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and is going through the menopause, Dr Brewer suggests taking a herbal supplement, such as CuraLin.

This supplement is said to contain a blend of nine Ayurvedic herbs that “help to suppress hunger, improve insulin function and support glucose control”.

Dr Brewer added a caution, however, stating that the supplement is only suitable for those not on prescribed medication.

“If you are overweight then, ideally, you need to lose at least five percent of your body weight to improve your HbA1c reading,” said Dr Brewer.

What’s an HbA1c reading?

The charity Diabetes UK explained: “HbA1c is your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the last two to three months.

“If you have diabetes, an ideal HbA1c level is 48mmol/mol or below; if you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, your target HbA1c level should be below 42mmol/mol.”

Diabetics are advised by Dr Brewer to “cut back on carbohydrates by following a low glycemic index diet”.

What’s a low glycemic index (GI) diet?

The Mayo Clinic explained: “A glycemic index diet is an eating plan based on how foods affect your blood sugar level.”

  • Low GI: Green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and bran breakfast cereals
  • Medium GI: Sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins, oat breakfast cereals, and multigrain, oat bran or rye bread
  • High GI: White rice, white bread and potatoes

The number a food item is valued at is dependent on how quickly the ingredient raises blood glucose levels.

“Weight loss is best done with a combination of reducing calories in your diet and increasing your physical activity and exercise,” the Mayo Clinic added.

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