Menopause is a time when a woman’s oestrogen levels begin to surge and plummet for a while before they begin a permanent decline, Deanna Copland writes.

Deanna Copland

Deanna Copland

As you get closer to menopause, this decrease in oestrogen increases. It’s part of what drives some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, insomnia and weight gain around the mid-section.

Oestrogen has a blood glucose-regulating effect and since levels are declining, weight gain can seem to appear without changing anything.

Normalising blood sugar levels through regular exercise and avoiding snacking between meals can be worthwhile.

Throughout evolution there have been periods of feast and famine, meaning food hasn’t always been as plentiful as it is in countries with the high levels of obesity.

Good fats – such as nuts, seeds, avocado, egg yolk, olive or coconut oil – and oily fish will keep you feeling satiated for longer and reduce the need to snack.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The seed bread recipe below is delicious topped with avocado, tomato and basil at this time of the year for a healthy, satisfying breakfast or lunch.

Did you know that cholesterol plays a key role in the production of hormones? Through a series of biochemical reactions, cholesterol gets converted into progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol in males and females.

In order for cholesterol to be efficiently converted into a hormone it requires zinc. Unfortunately, since zinc is not readily available in a wide variety of foods, many people are deficient in this vital nutrient.

If we don’t have optimal levels of zinc, the conversion of cholesterol into hormones can’t occur efficiently.

When combined with the body’s decreased need for oestrogen during perimenopause and into the post-menopause years, you will often begin to see cholesterol levels rise.

To ensure your body is able to efficiently convert cholesterol into hormones, you want to make sure your intake of zinc is optimal.

Foods such as oysters, red meat, eggs and pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain zinc, however you may need to consume a lot on a regular basis to get the amount your body requires.

Zinc supplementation may be required if you are deficient and the best way of knowing is through a zinc taste test. Naturopaths routinely do these tests and they are often available at health shops and some pharmacies.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Seed bread

This seed bread is a great recipe to make regularly to support your mineral intake and you can also sprinkle pumpkin and sunflower seeds over salads for some X-factor.

Makes 1 small loaf

¾ cup pumpkin seeds
¾ cup sunflower seeds
¾ cup sesame seeds
½ cup psyllium husks
½ cup linseeds (flaxseeds)
½ cup whole almonds
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
¼ cup water
4 free-range eggs

Line a small loaf tin (20cm x 10cm) with baking paper and turn the oven to 160degC.

Put the ingredients in a bowl and mix well and then leave to sit for 20 minutes, which will allow the chia seeds and psyllium to absorb the liquid.

Bake for 45-60 minutes. Once cooled, remove from the tin.

Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen.

To make it nut-free, omit the almonds and add more pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

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