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Menopause Journal: The Menopausal Menu

Menopause-friendly Diet

Crohn's doesn't help any diet. Often I'm nauseous in the morning, unable to eat, and starving later on. When Crohn's is active, I can't eat for days. My metabolism becomes confused, and when I feel better, I fill up on comfort foods to compensate for the deprivation. Can a menopausal diet help?

The essentials for the menopausal menu are calcium, phytoestrogens and antioxidants. Calcium is important for the menopausal woman, who needs at least 1,000 milligrams per day, plus vitamin D, to prevent bone loss.

Soybeans and soy products are recommended by nutritionists and traditional, as well as homeopathic, doctors because of the high content of phytoestrogens, natural plant estrogens that studies indicate have beneficial effects. A diet rich in soy isoflavones claims to decrease hot flashes, depression, moodiness and sleeplessness, as well as restore vaginal moisture. Studies at Bowman Gray Medical School indicated that the consumption of 30 to 40 grams of soy per day lowered blood pressure and cholesterol. Studies at the University of Illinois showed increased bone density. Soy is recommended for breast cancer prevention.

Some people probably like a good helping of soybeans twice a day, but the only soy "products" (is a food product a food?) I like are soy sauce and the deep-fried tofu in masaman curry at the local Thai restaurant. I've ordered a free sample of soy "milk."

Coffee depletes calcium, but green tea has antioxidants, the compounds that prevent oxidation, a process thought to lead to clogged arteries. Antioxidants are recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease. Vitamins E, A and C are high in antioxidants and are good for the prevention of bone loss.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, and I've been happy to eat a bowl of fresh ones every day for a few weeks, but the season is over and I'm faced with giving up coffee for tea, cutting back on carbohydrates and dairy products, and choking down vitamins with soy milk. It's no wonder women go into depression in menopause. Studies of chocolate show that its chemicals have an effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain, giving a sense of well-being, a "lift," a "good feeling." I'd better have a piece of emergency chocolate now!