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Menopause; nutritional foods and recommended supplements

As women approach tHe menopause symptoms not dissimilar to "premenstrual syndrome" (PMS) can become common. These include changes in sexual desire; a decreased ability to concentrate; aching joints; hot flushes; insomnia and early waking.

To ease these symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has its followers, but some experts believe increases the chances of reast and other cancers. Yam extract is a popular new favourite.

Eat more isoflavones - beans, linseed, nuts, pulses, peas, seeds and whole-grain food. These are thought to lower (LDL) - the bad-type of cholestrerol and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis - the dangers of which increase after the menopause.

Natural oils - such as olive and nut - are thought to improve symptoms (largely due to their vitamin E content. As do avocados, blackberries and mangoes.

Chinese medical practitioners recommend "dong quai", "schisandra" and "white peony" to maintain the bodies balance.

Most experts agree that there certain things that should be avoided.

These include -

1. Caffeine, particularly in the evening - this is not just contained in coffee, but tea and most cola drinks as well.

2. A diet lower in fatty food, particularly those containing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - which are generally animal fats. But see above.

Mercury:

A chemical element (symbol Hg), the only common liquid metal at

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