Why is a Mediterranean-style diet so good for you?
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, mood changes and sleep disturbance, a Mediterranean-style diet could help. Qualified nutritionist and 44 Foods partner Emma Ellice-Flint explains why.
We’re working with Emma Ellice-Flint, a qualified nutritionist, nutritional therapist and experienced chef with a special interest in working with women in perimenopause and menopause. Emma combines science, research and delicious food to help women to work through lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise and improved sleep.
Emma advises her clients to follow a Mediterranean-style diet to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate oestrogen levels and help to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s process of trying to heal itself by fighting things such as infection, injury or toxins.
Research has shown that declining oestrogen levels in menopausal women can cause inflammation in the body.
What does oestrogen do?
Oestrogen is a hormone responsible for many functions in the body, including developing and maintaining the female reproductive system and regulating the menstrual cycle. It also helps to keep cardiovascular tissue in your heart healthy, your blood pressure stable, increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol, supports blood flow to your brain, protects against osteoporosis and regulates levels of serotonin (feel-good hormones).
What happens to oestrogen levels during menopause?
As the body moves through perimenopause and into menopause, oestrogen levels naturally decline, which often results in symptoms such as hot flushes, mood changes, skin and hair issues, sleep disturbance and changes to the gut.
Declining oestrogen levels in menopause negatively impact the body’s metabolism, which can potentially lead to weight gain, as well as impacting cholesterol levels and your body’s ability to digest carbohydrates. Hormone changes can also lead to reduction in bone density.
What is a Mediterranean-style diet?
A Mediterranean-style diet includes lots of vegetables and fruit, legumes, pulses, beans, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, fermented dairy foods, eggs, fish and seafood. All of these ingredients are naturally low in fat and high in fibre, as well as being packed with nutrients that help to regulate oestrogen levels and reduce inflammation in the body, having a positive impact on some of the common symptoms of menopause.
I’ve developed a series of recipes that bring together all of these tasty ingredients, packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats. Not only are they brilliantly nutritious, but they are delicious enough for the whole family to enjoy!
Emma’s Artichoke and Chickpea Dip
This dip is packed with flavour and beneficial ingredients. Especially full of anti-inflammatory nutrients, so important during perimenopause and menopause when the lack of oestrogen can potentially mean the body is more inflamed.
Emma's Warmed Halloumi with Avocado, Chickpeas and Greens
A great brunch or lunch dish, full of phytonutrients, prebiotics and anti-inflammatory foods, so important for body and mind balance.
Emma’s Ginger Stir-Fry with Tofu
Whilst there’s a lot going on in this warm salad, not least it’s great taste, it’s the ginger I want to mention the most - ginger has anti-inflammatory benefits in the gut and aids digestion. This helps us to feel better all round - both in the body and mind!
I’m a qualified nutritionist, nutritional therapist and an experienced chef. At my clinic, I combine science, research and delicious food to help women in perimenopause and menopause to embrace change through lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise and improving sleep.
More from Emma
Food secrets for a balanced life
Factual information about the menopause transition