Diet plays a huge role in our health, and the same can be said for menopause. Menopause is marked by symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes, as well as an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. What we choose to eat can help lessen symptoms as well as lower our risk of more serious diseases.
The Ancestral Diet & Menopause
The ancestral diet is based on the work of Weston A. Price. As a dentist, he was highly trained and intrigued by how the food we eat affects dental health, as well as overall health. After traveling to isolated parts of the world for over 10 years, he gathered findings based on the health of people who remained untouched and uninfluenced by the Western world.
From remote villages in Switzerland to Polynesian South Sea Islanders, he found that the local people had healthy, straight teeth with no decay, healthy physiques, healthy reproduction, and resistance to disease. These folks ate diets high in water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, with no denatured or refined foods.
In short, an ancestral diet is based on our hunter-gatherer ancestors who didn’t suffer from the chronic diseases and health issues many people face today. Similar to the paleo and ketogenic diet, this way of eating provides health benefits for all but can be especially helpful for women in menopause or post-menopause.
The ancestral diet focuses on eating:
Animal protein, especially organ meats, bone marrow, and bone broth
Full-fat milk products
Animal fats, like egg yolks, cream, and butter
Traditional oils, like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and tallow
Seasonal vegetables, starchy and non-starchy
Whole grains, legumes, and nuts that have been soaked or sprouted
Why It Works
The ancestral diet is high in protein, nutrients, and vitamins – all of which are important for women in menopause. Protein is key for strength and keeping body fat low, especially for postmenopausal women. Nutrients like vitamin K2 and calcium, both of which are found in full-fat dairy, are great for bone strength. Vitamin D and collagen are also key here. Vitamin C can help with memory and vitamin E with hot flashes.
B vitamins, especially folate and biotin, are important for hormonal balance. While organ meats are a great source, if you simply can’t stomach the thought of liver, liver capsules can be an option. Folate can be obtained from liver, legumes, beets, and greens. Choline can be obtained from grass-fed dairy, egg yolks, liver, meat, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Biotin can be found in egg yolks and liver, among other things. Hormone balance is also assisted by selenium and zinc, which you can get from seafood, grass-fed beef, turkey, and lamb.
Additionally, inflammation and cardiovascular disease are of particular concern for women in menopause. Since women in menopause experience a decrease in estrogen, they’re more likely to experience discomfort and menopause-related arthritis. The ancestral diet can help with this. In a study of 70 postmenopausal, overweight women, each was assigned a paleo diet or an institution-recommended diet for 2 years. The women eating a paleo diet had reduced inflammation, lost weight, and had lowered blood triglyceride levels.
Regardless of which stage of life you’re in, an ancestral diet can help balance your hormones and provide key vitamins and nutrients. A healthy diet free from refined foods is incredibly important to support your body through this transitional time.