What should you include in a menopause diet plan to stay healthy?
In this article:
- What Happens to the Body During Menopause
- What to Eat in Your Menopausal Diet Plan
- What to Avoid in Your Menopausal Diet Plan
Menopause Diet Plan to Keep You Healthy
What Happens to the Body During Menopause
When menopause starts happening, the body fails to produce enough estrogen, and in turn, disrupts the production of progesterone as well. This brings various health issues to women in their midlife.
Aside from putting an end to the menstrual cycle and a woman’s ability to give birth, menopause also brings in a host of uncomfortable symptoms. This phase may also lead to the development of potential diseases and weight gain.
Other symptoms that women undergoing menopause may experience include:
- Hot flashes
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Brittle bones
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
Supplements and home remedies are often used to help relieve these symptoms. But most importantly, following a menopause diet plan aids with the transition.
So, what is the best diet for menopause weight gain and symptom relief? Here is a list of foods to consume and avoid during this period.
What to Eat in Your Menopausal Diet Plan
1. Whole Grains
People going through menopause are at a higher risk to develop diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease because of hormone fluctuations. Studies suggest that whole grains may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Whole grain foods include brown rice, rye, whole-wheat bread, barley, and quinoa.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which are good for anyone’s health. It’s the same for menopausal women.
A study noted a significant decrease in hot flashes for women who ate more fruit and vegetables instead of food rich in fat. The resulting weight loss from the dietary change and exercise proved to have a better impact on eliminating menopausal symptoms in women.
3. Milk and Dairy Products
Bones become weaker with the body’s inability to adequately produce estrogen. That’s why it’s important to consume food items rich in calcium during menopause.
Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products don’t just contain calcium, they also provide the body with Vitamins D and K, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. These micronutrients help strengthen the bones and also improve sleeping patterns.
If you consume dairy products rich in Vitamin D and calcium on a regular basis, you may also prevent the onset of early menopause according to a study.
What Are Phytoestrogens? These are molecules found in food that bind to estrogen receptors in the body. Since menopause causes the body to lose estrogen, these compounds mimic the hormone to help control symptoms related to the deficiency.
Foods like chickpeas, peanuts, flax seeds, plums, green and black tea, and berries contain phytoestrogens.
Studies suggest phytoestrogens can help reduce hot flash incidences in women without them developing serious side effects.
5. Collagen and Protein
Women going through menopause should be consuming more collagen and proteins to avoid losing muscle mass and bone strength after going through it.
The protein in the body is largely made up of collagen so increasing the intake of this dietary component can help alleviate dermatological symptoms of menopause like dry skin, hair loss, and other skin problems.
Consuming vegetable protein has also been found to prolong reproductive function in women and hold off the onset of menopause.
6. Omega-3 Rich Foods
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids benefits the body in general. But according to some studies, healthy fats may be able to reduce menopausal symptoms.
Omega-3 fatty acids help in dealing with depression during the menopausal transition. It can also help manage vasomotor symptoms or night sweats and hot flashes as per a randomized controlled trial study.
The following food items are rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Chia and hemp seeds
What to Avoid in Your Menopausal Diet Plan
The North American Menopause Society discourages excessive drinking of alcohol because of the risks involved.
Alcohol reacts negatively with many medications menopausal women may be taking. It may also trigger hot flashes in some women, among other health risks.
According to a study by the Women’s Health Clinic at the Mayo Clinic, women who drank coffee reported more intense vasomotor symptoms compared to those who did not consume any caffeine. In this study, menopausal status and smoking habits were taken as independent variables.
3. Salty Foods
Aging and the processes that occur with it, including menopause, cause the body to absorb less of the needed minerals and to weaken adaptability. And, too much sodium has been linked to an increased risk of developing hypertension, kidney diseases, and even osteoporosis.
The salt the body absorbs increases the fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. This takes a toll on the cardiovascular system, resulting in life-threatening conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
Too much salt also makes the body lose more calcium via urination. This makes the bones more brittle and prone to osteoporosis.
Eat whole foods which have low sodium instead of pre-packaged processed ones. Always check the sodium content of canned goods and other pre-processed items before buying or eating them.
4. Processed Carbohydrates and Added Sugar
The resulting hormonal deficiency during the menopausal period affects how your body reacts to insulin. This, then, may result in a higher incidence of hot flashes and night sweats.
Consuming processed foods and added sugar raises blood sugar levels increases the risk of developing insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. Limit your intake of carbohydrates to 10% of your daily caloric intake.
5. Spicy Foods
Reaction to spicy food varies from person to person but a survey done to assess the relation between climate, temperature, and altitude and menopausal Indian women concluded no significant influence between the condition and the factors. Instead, it reported prevalence in hot flashes due to their high-spice diet and increased anxiety levels.
Menopause is inevitable for any woman, but it doesn’t have to be a time of helplessness. By following a menopause diet plan, symptoms may be reduced.
Metabolism changes during menopause so digestive care is important. Eat foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.
Have questions or concerns about menopause? You can seek a urologist, or talk to your primary care physician to point you in the right direction. Our trained and experienced medical professionals at Midwest Urological can treat patients in Peoria, IL, and surrounding areas. Call us at (309) 692-9898 to make an appointment.