Phytoestrogens for Midlife
Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plant foods which have effects in the human body similar to that of body’s natural oestrogen. They are described as oestrogen mimickers and modulators;
Mimickers because they have a similar chemical structure to the oestrogen that our bodies produce naturally, and modulators because they may support increasing or decreasing oestrogen levels in the body by either activating or blocking oestrogen receptor sites.
Including phytoestrogens as part of our diet and a multi-factorial approach may help manage and minimise the typical symptoms women experience during the menopause transition and post- menopausal years e.g. hot flushes, night sweats, muscle aches and pains, dry/itchy skin, changes in libido, vaginal dryness, mind fog, mood swings, poor sleep.
Here we showcase their nutritional properties and share some ideas on how you may add these foods to your everyday food plan to support your female sex hormonal balance.
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What are phytoestrogens and how they could help us biologically.
The role of oestrogen receptors
Why including phytoestrogen foods in our diets may be supportive of women in midlife and including these foods as part of a multifactorial approach to managing menopausal symptoms.
Different types of phytoestrogens and whether isoflavones in the form of soy are health promoting or indeed contributors to health risks.
ISOFLAVONES – foods high in isoflavones are soybeans and legumes e.g. lentils, beans, peas. Soybean products include tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, soy milk/yogurt.
LIGNANS - foods high in lignans are flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin, sunflowers seeds, berries, tea, coffee, also other foods to consider are whole grains – rye/oats/barley
COUMESTANS foods containing coumestans are nuts, green veggies like spinach and cabbage, alfalfa sprouts and other plant sprouts
STILBENES – the most well-known stilbene is resveratrol found in grapes and peanuts
Tips on using soy as part of an everyday food plan taking into account health concerns.
Food sources of lignans and easy ways to add flaxseed to your food plan.
Using freshly ground flaxseed and keeping it fresh for therapeutic value.
Food sources of coumestans and stilbenes.
How to easily add phytoestrogens into your food plan.
· Hummus –chickpeas and tahini will provide isoflavones. Add hummus as a condiment to lots of meals – it goes well with eggs, add a dollop into a bowl of soup, have it on a cracker or oatcake and with vegetable crudities
· Ground Flaxseed –add to yoghurt, porridge, smoothies, juices or as an ingredient to homemade crackers/flapjacks/bounce balls
· Berries – frozen or fresh berries are a great addition to breakfasts or as a snack with yoghurt or in a smoothie
· Nuts and seeds are an easy one – add a tablespoon of seeds every day on salads or veggies or soup or breakfast yoghurt or porridge. It’s an easy every day way to add lignans to your meal plan.
Our favourite ways to use soy in main meal recipes.
Our ideas for a 1-day Phytoestrogen rich menu plan.
ONE KEY ACTION POINT is to ADD a portion of ground flaxseed to your food plan every day!
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded female runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
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