Nontraditional ideas about staying healthy at midlife and beyond include turning to nutritional therapy. There is a wide range of approaches to nutritional therapy. Some women swear by a vegetarian diet. Some purchase only organically grown products that have no chemical contamination. Others avoid specific foods such as red meat or caffeinated beverages. Certain roots, herbs, and mushrooms are believed, in Chinese medicine, to strengthen the immune system or to help counter the side effects of chemotherapy.
Garlic and onions, remedies well-known for healing in many folktales, actually have been shown to reduce levels of serum cholesterol. Oatmeal and ground flaxseed can also reduce cholesterol levels. Extra folic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease. Diets with a good balance of soy products (roughly two servings a day in the form of bean products and soy milk products) can both reduce cholesterol and diminish hot flashes. Some women find that vitamin E seems to reduce hot flashes.
A diet that helps you cope with menopause is great, but remember to eat a variety of foods. A balance of healthy protein sources, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grain products is critical to good health. If you experience digestive problems, consult with a physician or dietitian as to whether you may be intolerant to lactose, gluten, or other products, as food sensitivities are common.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
To help you relax and clear your mind, try meditating. Meditation is a technique for focusing mental energy in a way that can have physical and psychological benefits. For example, through meditation, some people have been able to reduce their blood pressure and heart rate. It may also improve immune system function and decrease chronic pain. More commonly, people use meditation to help reduce physical tension and overcome effects of a stressful life, both of which can wreak havoc on a woman with hot flashes who hasn't had enough sleep.
Meditation is not a new idea. Modern meditating techniques have evolved from centuries-old traditions in Eastern cultures. Currently, meditation is considered one of many "complementary therapies," because it involves no pharmaceutical products and is self-directed. Many holistic health practitioners now include different meditation techniques in their repertoire of therapies.
Meditation usually takes one or more 15- to 20-minute periods each day. A relatively quiet atmosphere is necessary for complete concentration. Some people focus on an object, such as a candle flame, whereas others meditate with closed eyes. Some use a special word, or "mantra," that they say repeatedly to block out distracting thoughts.
Meditation is often used in conjunction with other relaxation techniques, such as biofeedback and yoga.
You can learn more about meditation as a nontraditional method of handling your menopausal symptoms by contacting a local holistic health center, a center for Eastern medicine, or a traditional hospital or health-care center that has a complementary or integrative medicine program.
Though menopause happens to every woman, some women might approach it with fear or apprehension. Most of all, you must learn to be comfortable with your changing body and changing roles. In fact, for many women, the years surrounding menopause can be the best years of their lives, as they enjoy their adult children and grandchildren or new interests and hobbies. The more positively you look at menopause, the more positive the experience -- and life -- will be.
©Publications International, Ltd.
About the Consultant:
Dr. Linda Hughey Holt practices obstetrics and gynecology with a special focus on menopause. She is the co-author of several books on women's health, including The American Medical Association Book of Woman Care. She attended Yale University and obtained her medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She is a founding partner of the Midwest Center for Women's Healthcare, an associate clinical professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Additional information on Dr. Holt is available at www.midwestcenterforwomenshealth.com.