Expert advice from Jill D. Davey, author of The Menopause Cure: Hormonal Health, www.menopausewoman.com
- Avoid plastics in cooking, food packaging and storage; plastics contain weak synthetic oestrogen-like agents (such as bisphenol A). Their oestrogen-like activity makes them a hormone disruptor which can affect how oestrogens and other hormones act in the body, by blocking or mimicking them, throwing the body's hormonal balance off course. This may cause an ‘oestrogen dominance effect' which can provoke oestrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast, uterine and endometrial cancers, along with endometriosis and fibroid cysts.
- Keep away from chemical beauty products. If you want your skin to look younger, keep away from anti-ageing products that are petroleum-based or contain mineral oil. A natural mix of topical bioidentical oestriol (a type of oestrogen) and antioxidants, will protect the skin from ageing, improve elasticity and firmness and decrease wrinkle depth and pore size by 61 to 100 per cent. Other nutrients that are important for youthful skin are alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q-10, DMAE, DHEA, pomegranate seed oil extract, red tea extract, and vitamin E; the alpha-tocopherol form decreases the roughness of skin and the depth of wrinkles when applied to the skin.
- Eat the right food. A balanced diet of organic or locally-grown foods with the right amounts of fats, protein and carbohydrates is a wonderful way to start. Adding phytoestrogens (found in plants like licorice, soybeans and alfalfa) in small amounts before menopause is another good strategy as they block the stronger, bad forms of oestrogens that may cause cancer. High quality omega 3 oil, such as krill oil, is far more beneficial than fish oil, and although flax and hemp are good plant-based omega 3, they are not a substitute for animal-based omega 3 fats.
- Regular exercise will help to optimise insulin and balance oestrogen levels. Women who move little and eat a lot have much higher oestrogen levels, and when the ratios between oestrogens and progesterone are out, we get a phenomenon known as ‘oestrogen dominance'. This means many modern women will need to change their lifestyle to protect against diabetes and various cancers.
- Vitamin D is a must'for optimising health. Vitamin D is produced naturally when you expose your skin to sunlight. Optimised vitamin D levels may help to decrease the risk of at least 16 different types of cancer, including lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, pancreatic, and skin cancers, while suboptimal levels are also linked to diabetes, depression, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease, POCS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), lupus and high blood pressure to name a few. Forty minutes of sunlight exposure is the ideal way to optimise vitamin D levels, but in colder climates the next best thing is a good quality supplement.
- Drink filtered water. Our body requires a continual supply of water to enable it to ‘clean out' all the waste-filtration-systems nature has designed to keep the body free from toxins and in a healthy state. The liver, kidneys and blood all require fresh, filtered water to detoxify the body from the toxic exposure we face every day. Toxins that leach from plastic bottles, tap water that is filled with by-products from chlorination, or contaminated by pesticides or hormones (eg. xenostrogens) make the body work twice as hard at detoxification.
- Mind how you wash. Oestrogens and toxins can easily be absorbed through the skin so you should also consider putting a filter in your shower - they can be bought quite cheaply and fitted to most existing systems, and you will notice a visible difference in your skin and hair.
- Keep stress under control. Work, health, family, money and emotional issues and the rush of everyday life can cause stress which blunts hormone production and will causes cortisol levels to rise and hormonal imbalances to occur. Long-term or chronic stress is linked to serious emotional and physical impairments like heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, obesity and Alzheimer's. Try to control these stressors by taking a hot bath, having a massage, eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep - just dedicating time to yourself can really help with stress reduction.
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