NON-HORMONAL MANAGEMENT OF THE MENOPAUSE: CARBOHYDRATES IN NUTRITION
These take the form of simple sugars, starches and fibre. Each produces approximately 4 calories of energy per gram (as do proteins, while fats produce 9 calories of energy per gram). Sugar is not thought to be directly linked to heart disease but it does increase the chance of obesity, which in turn can magnify the risk of, diabetes, raised blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Eat as little as possible.
Don't use sweeteners in place of sugar: they will maintain your craving for sweetness. The palate quickly adjusts to food which is less sweet (or salty).
Add less sugar to tea, coffee, breakfast cereal and when cooking. (Best of all, do not use any.) In cooking try spices or flavourings such as cinnamon, ginger, lemon and orange instead.
Beware of 'hidden' sugar in foods such as cakes, pastries, biscuits,
'frosted' cereals, chocolates and sweets. Remember that honey, syrups, glucose, fructose, fruit sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, dextrose and invert sugar are all sugars. Always check food labels: the higher in the listing the ingredient appears, the higher its content in the food item.
Beware of hidden sugar in fizzy drinks, cola, squash and some juices. Try mineral and spring water, weak tea or other infusions such as camomile and fennel. Use diluted fruit juice or low-calorie drinks.
Cut down on jam, marmalade, lemon curd, honey, canned pie fillings and fruit in syrup. Use fresh fruits or canned fruit in natural unsweetened juice.
Substitute complex carbohydrates (starches and fibre) for simple carbohydrates (sugars). This will help prevent constipation and reduce the risk of bowel cancer and diabetes. Blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels are often improved, too, and through reduction of blood fibrinogen (a blood protein) there is less likelihood of clotting.
The recommendation is to increase intake, by eating:
more bread (but less 'spread'): cut thicker slices. Brown bread and heavy cereal breads, such as wholemeal, usually supply more roughage (fibre), mineral (calcium and iron) and B vitamins and also essential fatty acids (a form of polyunsaturated fat). Since 1953 all brown and white flours have been fortified with iron, calcium, thiamin and niacin
more boiled and baked potatoes. Potatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, which is much reduced by the leaching of the vitamin into the cooking water if they are cut up. When boiling potatoes use a small quantity of water, add the whole potatoes with the skin intact when it is boiling, then cover tightly. Eat potatoes roasted, saut?ed or as thick chips, but in moderation. Leave the peel on, for preference; it contains substantial amounts of vitamin C. Use very good hot vegetable oil, such as sunflower, corn or rapeseed for frying.
unsugared breakfast cereals. Use grapefruit segments, sliced apple, banana or any other fruit (provided it is not overripe and therefore of a higher sugar content) to enhance the flavour beans, peas or lentils. They arc good sources of starch and fibre. Dietary fibre
Current advice is to include 25-30 grams per day of combined soluble and insoluble fibre in the diet. Eat a mixture of the different types of fibre-rich foods to make sure you get a variety of fibre.
Fibre, in either soluble or insoluble form, consists of complex carbohydrates which have beneficial effects on the digestive system. Many foods that are rich in starch also contain dietary fibre. Insoluble fibre, which provides 'roughage' or bulk, may be found in granary and wholemeal bread, the outer husks of cereals, nuts, seeds and the skins of fruit and vegetables. Soluble fibre is found in fruits, leafy vegetables, pulses and oats. Both forms are broken down by enzymes in the bowel and attach themselves to bile acids which contain cholesterol, preventing it from depositing itself on the walls of the arteries. Recent studies suggest that soluble fibre may reduce the blood protein fibrinogen and hence the likelihood of blood clots.
To increase fibre intake, eat:
more bread (especially wholemeal, which contains twice as much fibre as white)
foods made with wholewheat or wholegrains, such as wholewheat breakfast cereals (those made from corn or rice are generally very low in fibre unless it has been added); pasta (especially wholewheat pasta), brown rice (white rice is low in fibre but rich in starch); oats, including porridge, and rye bread
more vegetables, especially peas, beans (including baked beans, but check the level for sugar content) and lentils; also leaf and root vegetables and salads
more fruit, which provides soluble fibre in particular.
If the correct amount of fibre is being eaten, the bowels will move without effort or straining, once or twice a day, and stools will be soft and bulky.
There are negative factors to a diet containing excess fibre:
excess gas and wind may be produced
vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, can be poorly absorbed. The oxalic acid in spinach, and phytic acid found in raw bran and the tough coating of some beans (kidney, butter, broad), can reduce calcium absorption and therefore increase the risk of osteoporosis.