Ask the expert: Paula Mee
Q: I’m going through the menopause and the hot flashes are a nightmare. What exercise is best for me and are there any foods I should be eating to help ease the menopausal symptoms?
A: Whilst a mix of cardio and resistance exercise is good for all of us, breathing exercises are useful in taming hot flushes. I was lucky to escape the daytime hot flushes, but I regularly overheated at night. That left me sleep-deprived and pretty irritable. Everyday stuff felt overwhelming.
Personally, and thankfully, my night sweats were not relentless. Bouts of night sweats were followed by episodes of uninterrupted sleep over a two-year period. I tried meditation, yoga and massage. Layered bedclothes that could easily be removed were useful too.
Unfortunatel,y some are not so lucky and have their own internal version of global warming for years. A friend of mine used to go to bed with a packet of frozen peas tucked under her pillow. When she flipped her pillow she had an instant cool down.
As many as three out of four western women experience hot flushes, which is at odds with our Asian counterparts. Only 20pc of women in Japan and China report having hot flushes. And this is where food may help – their easy menopause is thought to be largely connected to their traditional food regime, which contains copious phyto-oestrogen-rich soya-based foods.
Typically they consume somewhere between 10 and 20 times more soya isoflavones per day than we do.
Phyto-oestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods. They are structurally similar to human oestrogen and can be found in soya beans and soya products, chickpeas and other legumes, nuts and nut butters, seeds and wholegrains.