Q: Dear Dr. Mao. I am approaching menopause and I have noticed changes in my body. I have added a few pounds and my menstruation is becoming irregular. I am dieting and began an exercise program, but I would like your opinion on any special approaches to general wellness related to aging and menopause.
A: As we age, our body slows down, metabolism, organ function, tissue regeneration all slow down. This necessitates different approaches to wellness. As our metabolism slows down, we should also reduce our caloric intake. The more calories we take in, the more get stored since we do not burn as much. The nutrition requirements also change as you reach menopause. A good general approach is to engage in a proactive health maintenance program with your natural practitioner. Here are some suggestions.
1. Receive monthly or weekly acupuncture treatments to help regulate the hormones, stimulate metabolism and help with energy distribution and utilization.
2. Adjust the diet to 1/3 fewer calories than you ate before but with more nutritionally rich content, including various berries, nuts and seeds, and green leafy vegetables. Eat more fiber rich foods (greens are good for this) or supplement with fiber to maintain regular bowel habits.
3. Engage in Tai Chi or Qi Gong exercises either by yourself or in a group setting. This helps with hormones, adjusts the body’s energy cycles and is a good workout without stressing the joints and bones.
Follow these dietary and supplementation guidelines for menopause.
Maintain a diet low in fats and cholesterol to prevent complications. Diet should consist of more green vegetables, whole grains, and organic produce. Your diet needs to be of a Yin nature to help replenish the decline. Eat more black beans, sesame seeds, soybeans, other soy products mustard greens, kale, wheat, and wheat germ, walnuts, lycium berries, mulberries, wild yams, lotus seeds, licorice, black jujube dates, chrysanthemum flowers.
Stop smoking and eliminate alcohol, dairy products, coffee and stimulants.
· Boil 1 cup black beans and 2 cups of brown rice with 8 cups of water for 20 minutes to turn into soupy porridge. Consume twice daily for three months.
· Roast 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds and add to rice or morning cereal for breakfast
· Make steamed or stewed chicken with lycium berries, yam and walnuts to help build yin
· Make tea from chrysanthemum flowers, cassia seeds and lycium berries, drink three times daily to nourish yin
· Walnuts, lotus seeds, sunflower seeds and lycium berries can be added to any of your soups, salads or porridges as good source of yin energy
· A good base of antioxidants including Vitamin C and E (250-500mg daily of vitamin C and 400-800 IU daily of Vitamin E) can help prevent complications of menopause
· Vitamin K (45mg daily) Vitamin D (400 IU daily) and Calcium (1000-1500 mg per day) can prevent bone loss. Magnesium also helps with calcium absorption
· Black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose, saw palmetto and valerian are beneficial herbs to help cope with menopause symptoms.
· Lachesis, Sepia, Calcarea, Belladonna, and argentums nitricum are some of the homeopathic remedies available.
· Chinese herbs often used for menopause include herbs to tonify the kidney yin and to nourish the body’s fluids. Glossy privet fruit and eclipta are two of the often used together as a dietary supplementation. Other herbs include angelica Dang Gui, rehmannia, wheat levis, black jujube, artemisia Qing Hao, anemarrhena, bupleurum, white peony.
I recommend consulting with a licensed Oriental Medicine Practitioner to determine appropriate herbal prescriptions for your needs.
Additionally, I recommend that you also try these specially formulated Traditions of Tao herbal formulas “Passages Plus”, “Menopause”, “Abundant Energy”, and “Emotional Tranquility”. Of course, discuss with your physician before beginning any new health regime.