Menopause usually occurs for women between the ages of 45-55 years. The level of the hormone oestrogen in the body falls, which can cause symptoms such as weight gain, hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings, poor concentration, frequent headaches, joint pains, or irregular periods.
Before menopause, higher levels of oestrogen reduce the risk for women of a number of diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. The changes that occur during the menopause due to the loss of oestrogen can therefore increase the risk of heart disease and bone weakness. (Source: INDI)
Changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you manage the symptoms of the menopause. Be sure to take this time to look at what you eat and try to get the balance right. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, oily fish and low in saturated fat will protect your heart and bones and may also help to relieve difficult menopausal symptoms.
Improved nutrition alone is not a complete one-size-fits-all solution for menopause, but it’s a good place to start to help reduce the long-term effects of lower oestrogen such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Some lifestyle changes may help women to reduce menopausal symptoms, keep bone density and reduce risk of heart disease. So, in addition to eating a balanced diet, you should:
• Reduce alcohol intake
• Engage in regular movement, with a focus on weight bearing activity and resistance training
• Keep to a moderate intake of caffeine from drinks like coffee, tea, and cola
• Sleep in a cool room
• Dress in layers to allow easy temperature control
• Try to manage stress effectively
Other things to consider in menopause:
It is important to be aware of other health conditions that can result from changes in hormone levels, to ensure you are eating to achieve optimal health.
Women’s bone density begins to decline from the age of 25,however some of the largest changes can be seen around the stage of the menopause due to changes in hormone levels. To reduce your risk of fractures it is important to consume adequate levels of Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium to name but a few. Good sources of these essential nutrients include dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Foods to Reduce Symptoms
While Hormone Replacement Therapy can be used to reduce symptoms of the menopause, you can also assist this through your diet. Increased intake of healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, have been linked to decreased frequency of hot flashes. Increased vegetable, fruit, fibre, and soy consumption have also been shown to reduce hot flash symptoms in a cohort of women.
Ageing and the menopause are both linked to a decrease in muscle mass. It is therefore essential to consume an adequate amount of protein when going through these stages. The current recommendations its at approximately 1.0-1.2g of protein per kg of body weight i.e., a 65kg woman would need approximately 65g of protein every day, spread out across meals. Try to choose protein-rich food options, from a variety of sources, across your day.