Most women dread the word menopause.
In reality it affects women in completely different ways, but the most common symptoms include hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, impairment of memory and fatigue.
Long term consequences can include a decline in libido, osteoporosis, heart disease, even dementia – all linked to reduced oestrogen levels.
Typically, a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs in her early 50s, and the menstrual cycle stops. Some women can sail through with only the odd hot flush, but others can struggle with symptoms such as weight gain and fluctuating emotions.
The physiological reason why the body starts changing is largely down to the drop in oestrogen production and the effect this has on other hormones.
It has been noted that eating, and avoiding, certain types of foods can make the menopause a lot more bearable.
Incorporating dairy products, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, foods high in phytoestrogens and quality sources of protein into your diet may help relieve some menopause symptoms.
Avoiding processed carbs, added sugars, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and foods high in salt may improve symptoms of menopause.
These simple changes to your diet may make this important transition in your life easier.
Remember to eat a variety of foods in order get all the nutrients you need. It’s very important that you get enough of the following nutrients:
- Get enough calcium. Eat and drink two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day. Calcium is found in dairy products, fish with bones (such as sardines and canned salmon), broccoli, and legumes.
- Pump up your iron. Eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products.
- Get enough fibre. Help yourself to foods high in fibre, such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water. As a general rule, drink eight glasses of water every day.
- Vitamin D. Getting enough vitamin D is also critical for protecting your bones during menopause.
Exercise is also very important, since we lose muscle mass as we age. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week, and be sure to include strength training at least two times per week to help preserve bone.
It’s important to incorporate some form of yoga and stretching, not only to improve flexibility, but to help manage stress levels.