When female fertility naturally decreases around the late 40s and early 50s the balance of yin and yang is often affected. Yin is a general term for many substances and qualities… in this case it applies mainly to body fluids and essence, which moisten and nourish the tissues plus calm and centre the spirit. Many women become yin deficient when the ovaries gradually cease producing oestrogen. If the system is well balanced the adrenals begin to produce oestrogen and androgens to replace the hormones previously produced in the ovaries. If the adrenal glands (kidney channel, water element) and nervous system are taxed (mostly by excessive activity and stress or intake of stimulants) their yin nourishing function is impaired.
Common yin deficient symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, headaches, irritability, insomnia, depression, nervousness, leg cramps, nose-bleeds, frequent or easy bruising and varicose veins. Early signs may simply show as vaginal or oral dryness, frequent thirst, dry hair and nails, dry skin, dry eyes and restlessness. To prevent peri-menopausal symptoms and nourish fertility, it is wise to generate yin through diet, lifestyle and treatment when these early indicators first arise. A safe and kidney qi supportive way of supplementing yin is through regular consumption of oestrogenic and progestogenic wholefoods and vitamins, as follows…
Foods to Focus On:
Most beneficial- DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES and foods rich in OMEGA 3 OILS (sardines, herring, mackerel, caviar, walnuts, chia seeds, pastured eggs, grass fed animal meats and dairy products (if tolerated), hemp seeds, spinach & brussel sprouts.)
* If blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin is being taken or there is a blood clotting disorder such as haemophilia avoid fish and krill oils as they increase blood viscosity.
Wheat germ oil, mung beans (and mung sprouts), seaweed, spirulina, millet, black bean, tempeh, kidney bean, barley and black sesame seeds are all kidney yin nourishing. Plenty of warm water or herbal tea like nettle or rooibos is also important. Use cold pressed olive oil and raw sesame oil.
Calcium and magnesium rich foods are also anti-inflammatory. Basically anything from the sea (the most yin environment on the planet) is calcium rich… seaweeds and fish with edible bones top the list. Almonds, amaranth, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and parsley are also good sources. Vitamin D from sunshine is important for calcium absorption too. Much of the body’s stores of calcium are often leached in yin deficient conditions… to protect the joints and bones you may need to supplement if inflammation persists. However, be aware that over consumption of calcium and Vit D can cause calcium deposits in bones, tissues, gall bladder and especially the kidneys (some forms of kidney stones are calcium accumulations). This may occur through over-supplementation in tablet form.
Foods to Avoid as much as possible:
Coffee, sugar, fried red meat, chocolate, alcohol, hot spices and greasy or deep fried foods. All these foods are inflammatory, further consuming yin and drying the tissues.
That’s all I will say about dietary restrictions! They often tend to be our favourite foods!
Lifestyle: Gentle regular Qi Gong or Tai Qi sessions and meditation are perhaps the most yin-nourishing activities (or non activity!) you can undertake. It is particularly beneficial for loosening and strengthening joints and replenishing the core. Shirsha Marie is a highly skilled and well-experienced martial arts instructor from Byron Bay with a range of DVDs available to be downloaded online. Her website is www.shirshamarie.com
May your yin be full flowing and may your spirit rest contentedly in your heart
…adapted from Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Wholefoods
Gateways Oriental Medicine
Fiona D’Elboux (BHSc, Acupuncture)