Foods to Eat and Avoid in Your Menopause Diet
Your body goes through significant changes with the onset of menopause due to the lack of estrogen and progesterone as you age. The changes are often so significant that it can reflect in your body through increased body fat (mainly around your abdomen), your bone health, and even your muscle mass. Unfortunately, menopausal women should also be wary of heart disease risk. Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and a progressive increase in a woman's cholesterol are just some of the many things that can occur as women enter early menopause.
Millions of women are looking for natural menopause solutions. Various lifestyle factors have a great deal to do with your increased health in the natural transition. Through physical activity (utilizing cardio and resistance training), dietary factors that follow a low-fat diet with modest portion sizes, and making sure to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated you can keep yourself healthy and feeling good.
Foods That Make Menopause Symptoms Better
Whole Grain foods are high in nutrients
Whole grains are nutrient-dense, packed with dietary fiber and b vitamins including thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. If you love pasta, make sure it is made with whole grains. To maximize health benefits, try cooking whole-grain meals with quality protein, and even top them with calcium-rich sauces fortified with vitamin d.
Whole-grain foods include food like brown rice, quinoa, rye, barley, whole grain oats, and whole-wheat bread. So be sure to make yourself a hearty bowl of oatmeal, topped with natural fruit to start your mornings off right.
Fruits And Vegetables
It's no surprise that whole fruits and vegetables are not only good for your health but more so during menopause.
Cruciferous vegetables are helpful in preventing the onset of a multitude of diseases like cancer. Broccoli, for example, is helpful in boosting a type of estrogen that helps protect the body against breast cancer while also aiding in weight loss and overall health.
Green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale are packed full of calcium as well for better bone health. So no need to worry if you follow a vegetarian diet or even a vegan diet. You can still get your calcium from your veggies.
Vegetables, including legumes and beans, are packed with nutrient-dense benefits. They are a good source of essential nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. They also contain dietary fibre and a broad range of phytochemicals. Legumes offer some of the same nutritional benefits as lean meats, fish, eggs, and poultry, so those following a vegetarian diet, as well as a vegan plan, are still able to combat menopause with confidence.
Dairy Products are great for women in every stage, from perimenopause to postmenopausal women, be sure to include plenty of calcium-rich foods into your diet. Vitamin D is an essential key factor in women's health, especially in postmenopausal women with low estrogen levels and decreasing bone health.
Dairy products may also help improve sleep. It is suggested that foods high in the amino acid glycine (often found in dairy), promote deeper and more quality sleep in menopausal women. Also, bone density, along with the risk of osteoporosis, is an important factor to consider when observing your diet through the menopausal transition.
Calcium is not only found in dairy products but in fish with bones such as sardines or canned fish like salmon. It's found in broccoli, and legumes as well. Legumes also contain antioxidants, which may delay the onset of menopause.
Postmenopausal women benefit from phytoestrogen-rich foods as phytoestrogens act as estrogens in the body. Foods that naturally contain phytoestrogens include soybeans, barley, peanuts, flaxseed, plums, chickpeas, grapes, berries, green, and black tea, to name a few.
Many women have turned to natural menopause alternatives, such as soy, to alleviate and even manage their menopause symptoms. Soy is usually found in tofu, soybeans, soy flour, soy nuts, soy milk, and also comes in supplements. It contains chemical compounds called isoflavones, a plant-based chemical that has estrogen-like effects.
Green tea, for example, is an herbal tea often used for relaxation. It has a small dose of caffeine but is also full of antioxidants and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), a plant compound. EGCG in green tea is known to boost metabolism, to aid in the fight of weight gain in many menopausal women. However, with everything, drink in moderation as caffeine in high quantities may contribute to your insomnia, hot flashes, and night sweats, so a decaffeinated tea is best.
Foods That Make Symptoms of Menopause Worse
The onset of menopause is already tough on you, as you have to deal with symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, or brain fog.Many lifestyle factors can contribute to the, but you can make these symptoms even worse if you choose the wrong foods to add to your menopause diet. Fatigue, insomnia, and moodiness can make you want another glass of wine or another chocolate chip cookie. Still, neither of those will be the right choice to make you feel better, reduce your body fat, and help with your overall wellness. Switching your dietary choices for something lighter and healthier will actually help improve your symptoms and also promote weight loss. So, make sure to avoid these foods that make symptoms of menopause and perimenopause worse.
One of the symptoms of the menopausal transition that can be a hit to the woman’s self-confidence is weight gain. According to this study (1), the transition of menopause leads to an increase in abdominal fat and overall total body fat in women. And not only is weight gain much easier at this age, but it is also much more difficult to get rid of the stubborn fat with a decreased metabolism. As a result, a woman suffers not only from an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease but also from problems related to sexual function and body image.
If you enjoy eating fatty cuts of meat or are looking forward to biting into the skin on a chicken wing, you should evaluate these habits in menopause. To avoid weight gain, and also prevent health problems related to high-fat consumption, avoid saturated fats from meats and dairy. Thus, try to have your daily fat intake around 20% or less in menopause. Instead of fatty meats or heavy cream, turn to unsaturated fats in avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.
Caffeine & Alcohol
Are you in the habit of having your morning coffee so much that you cannot go through the day without it? Do you reach for a glass of wine at the end of a long and tiring day? You might have read or heard before that both of these are fine in moderation, yet when it comes to menopause, less caffeine and less alcohol are best.
Caffeine can set off your hot flashes and augment further irritation if you drink it throughout the day. It will also make it harder to fall asleep at night, which would only worsen your insomnia. Make sure to drink a lot of water in the second half of the day instead. The same happens with alcohol because it dilates your blood vessels. As a result, your hot flashes and insomnia will get worse. Have a glass of wine if you wish, but try to do it long before bedtime. Too much caffeine can make your hot flashes worse.
Sweet Foods Worsen Menopause Symptoms
This study (2) has shown the possibility of a link between hot flashes in menopause and increased insulin resistance and, as a result, increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it is important to control your sugar intake at the age of menopause. Maintaining steady blood sugar levels will help you find relief from weight gain and will also help reduce fatigue because you will not experience sudden spikes in blood sugar from cakes and cookies.
During menopause, your hormones fluctuate. Because of that, you might have more sugar cravings than before. But eating refined sugars will only make your situation worse. It might worsen your mood swings and also lead to more hormonal imbalance. If you are craving sugars during the day, how about eating a small fruit instead? Fruits contain natural sugars and will make perfect snacks for avoiding weight gain and giving you the energy to carry you through the day.
You might love spicy food, but hot sauce is not good for you at the age of menopause. When you eat spicy foods, your body temperature rises for a short time. So, not surprisingly, eating a spicy meal would make your hot flashes worse. If you are having lunch or dinner in a company of friends, a hot flash could make you feel uncomfortable about your menopause, so go easy on the sauce.
If you enjoy flavorful meals, try to choose food that has different spices like oregano, basil, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, or other. But if you absolutely cannot avoid eating spicy, try to reduce the heat. Make your burritos with green salsa instead of chipotle or add coconut cream to your Indian curry. Also, for many meals, you can simply use dairy or plant-based cream to tone down the spicy flavor. Try to avoid foods which are too spicy
Fast Foods and Menopause
Fast food is not the best choice at any age, but it can make the menopause worse for you. Fried and processed foods have a lot of fat and calories. As a result, they will increase weight gain in menopause. Besides, eating a lot of fast food can put you at risk for heart disease. Research has shown that women in menopause suffer more from coronary heart disease compared to premenopausal women (3). So, eating a lot of fatty, salty, and high in refined carbs food is bad for both your heart and your waistline.
If you do not find the time in your schedule to cook meals at home every day, try planning your meals ahead of time and cooking extra food during the weekend. Have you heard about meal planning? You can find a lot of information online about how to prepare quick and healthy meals for the week ahead. And you can easily freeze the leftovers. Packing lunch for work is much healthier for you, as you can also make salads, bring fruit, and use more whole products instead of processed ingredients found in fast foods.
Keep it Natural
Natural menopause solutions are easy to apply to your daily life if you're willing to make small changes like those in your everyday diet. The foods you choose daily can set you up for success. It may decrease irritation from symptoms, reduce abdominal fat, and improve your overall quality of life without the use of hormone replacement therapy. Natural menopause alternatives like supplements are also popular with today's technological advances, providing you with the right things to counter the effects of menopause.
Remember that menopause is natural, but it doesn't have to be miserable. Choose smart things for your body and choose the best for your body in a time when you need it most. Opt for oatmeal for breakfast and incorporate more whole foods like fresh fruits and a range of veggies like tomatoes and brussels sprouts, and make sure to include lean poultry.
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(1) S. Davis et al. “Understanding weight gain at menopause.”
(3) T. Gordon et al. “Menopause and coronary heart disease: The Framingham study.”