Going Green for Menopause
Don’t be deceived by the title of this post. It has nothing to do with an inconvenient truth or the size of your carbon foot print. If you still use plastic bags or haven’t bought a hybrid car, don’t worry about that either. Your secret is safe with me. I know I won’t be driving a hybrid until somebody figures out how to make a 1967 Camaro fuel efficient. I also won’t be giving up my plastic bags until doggy poop can be picked up with an eco-friendly brown paper bag - so there.
This post is about eating green, like kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and mustard greens. Where I grew up, way down in the Deep South, greens were a staple, and ‘good eatin’ was when you had them with black-eyed peas and hot water cornbread.
As it turns out, all those years of eating my greens were actually good for me - really good for me, especially since I’ve reached menopause. These nutritional power houses are chocked full of Vitamins A, C, and K, along with a generous amount of calcium, folate, and potassium; and they’re naturally low fat to boot! Who knew?
Vitamin A (Retinol) helps maintain healthy bones and teeth. With all of the brouhaha over a higher risk of osteoporosis during the post-menopause years, this is good news. Vitamin A is also good for your skin and is a powerful antioxidant when found in “green” sources.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) also like Vitamin A, helps maintain healthy skin and teeth. As we age our skin definitely begins to change. It becomes thinner and loses youthful elasticity. While you won’t be able to stave it off forever, you can at least slow the aging process if you are consuming enough Vitamin C. In addition, Vitamin C helps your brain form vital neurotransmitters such as dopamine (aka the “happy chemical”), and it helps to reduce damage to your body from toxic substances and chemicals.
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin naturally produced in the body, and stored in fat tissue and the liver. It is essential for healthy blood cell growth, blood clotting, and coagulation. Vitamin K has also been shown to help in the prevention of osteoporosis.
For women in the post-menopause years, Vitamin K deficiency is rare given that most of us pack on a few extra pounds as we age. With low body weight as a risk factor for osteoporosis, extra poundage may not be such a bad thing after all!
Calcium, as we all know, also helps maintain strong bones and teeth. But, did you also know that it aids in the prevention of colon cancer and obesity? Calcium also protects your heart by facilitating the necessary contraction and relaxation of the muscle, and also by helping your nervous system maintain the necessary pressure within your arterial system.
Folate (Folic Acid) is key to the development of red blood cells, and like calcium, is also key is supporting good cardiac health. Studies have shown that folate is helpful in treating depression and helps to keep the brain young by slowing down the aging process. For women in menopause who often complain of depression and the dreaded “brain fog”, folic acid is especially important.
Potassium health benefits are just too numerous to list in their entirety. But, suffice it to say that it is one of the most important minerals in your body. Potassium helps to protect the brain against stroke, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, decreases anxiety and stress, promotes a healthy metabolism, and increases muscle strength. For women in menopause who suffer with crashing fatigue and heart palpitations, potassium may also help with these symptoms.
If after all of this, you’re still not interested in going green, but still want do your part in reducing environmental gas emissions, you’re in luck: greens are an excellent source of fiber as well!
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.