Estrogen is a reproductive hormone which helps prepare the ovary for pregnancy. This hormone effects skin moisture for those in reproductive age.
But for people who are near menopause but are still not able to adjust emotionally, a lack of estrogen will consequently affect their lives, such as making them feel downcast, have reduced skin hydration, sexual problems, as well as less body strength.
They may feel like something is missing from their lives. The most common symptoms experienced include:
- Hot flashes
- Easily irritatable
- Dry skin
- Low sexual desire
These symptoms can be given primary treatment if we understand them. For example, when having hot flashes, one can be calm and address their mood swing. Dry skin can be treated by using moisturizer and avoid taking hot showers, as well as taking care of yourself in other aspects, such as exercising and eating healthy and age-appropriate diet. All this will help avoid the use of hormones, as estrogen usage can have both positive and negative effects to the body.
Dating back 20-50 years ago, those with menopause preferred to receive Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), in the forms of oral consumption, injection, topical cream application, or hormone pellet implantation, in order to maintain hormone levels and live better. Over time, the medical community reassessed that the prolonged use of estrogen may have negative effects, for example, some patients suffer from breast cancer.
In some cases, particular estrogen-sensitive cells can cause more abnormal cells which lead to ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, or uterine fibroids (myoma uteri). Some patients who have thick uterine walls (Endometriosis) are more prone to abnormal periods. Therefore, HRT became less popular.
Later, Phytoestrogen supplement was introduced to the healthcare industry. It has a similar structure to the female sex hormone like estrogen. Phytoestrogen can be found in some vegetables, especially in soybean.
One report stated that if one receives Phytoestogen for 12 consecutive weeks, blood tests indicate a decrease in estrogen levels, as the pituitary gland determines that body has received enough hormones, resulting in decrease of hormones in the blood.
For this reason, the dietary supplement industry produced various products of soybean supplements, as it was believed that consuming Phytoestrogens can lower blood estrogen levels and reduce the incidence of cancer. As a result, many people consumed a lot of soy supplement products, though some patients unfortunately developed cancer. Hence, it is still debatable whether Phytoestrogen effects the occurrence of cancer.
Eventually, around 2005, Naturopathic physicians specializing in hormone balancing recommended that one should not eat only Phytoestrogens, but also add an appropriate amount of Polyphenols to the diet. Thus it is better to consume natural food that helps balance hormones instead of dietary supplement, so as to live a good life in menopause without relying on hormone usage.
List of foods containing estrogen or phytoestrogens.
2. Soybeans or soy products such as soy milk
3. Sesame or sesame products. Adding sesame in your meal provides good fats and phytorestrogens, as well as other minerals including zinc, calcium, and vitamins.
One substance that can help produce estrogen is Lignans, which can be found in fruits and vegetables, though this substance requires enterobacteria in the gut to help digest and convert it to estrogen. Lignans can be found in flaxseed, almond kernel, and broccoli.
In addition, estrogen-like polyphenols are found in limited amounts in berries, tomatoes, mulberries, and vegetables high in beta-carotene such as carrots.
We therefore should eat a variety of foods in order to replace the decreased estrogen. The most important thing is to relax your mind and do some exercises to reduce stress. For those who are easily irritated or have mood swings, eating dried nuts and apricots can enhance your mood, as well as eating chocolate which can produce endorphins that trigger a positive feeling. All these foods will help us spend the golden years happily.
Compiled by: Winna Rakkarn
Photo credit: Unsplash