Diet & Nutrition
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Diet & Nutrition

Diet & Health in Menopause

This month of May is observed as Mental Health Awareness Month and International Day of Action for Women’s Health. Biologically, there are 5 life stages of womanhood- infancy, puberty (adolescence), sexual maturation (reproductive age), climacteric period, and post-climacteric (elderly) years. A typical woman’s life stages can also be divided based on the reproductive cycle into adolescence, reproductive years, midlife and postmenopausal. At each of the stages, women have special care and needs that are required where they are in life. A typical reproductive cycle of a woman starts with menstruation and ends at menopause. It is probably the most dreaded stage for all women.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. It is a natural decline in female reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s.

What changes occur in a woman’s body in menopause?

Menopause is connected to changes in a slowed metabolism, reduced bone density in elder women, and increased risk of heart diseases and fractures. Additionally, many women going through menopause experience unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes and poor sleep, which is why they dread going through these stages.

What are the symptoms?

The first signs of menopause are- in most women on the verge of menopause will have hot flashes, and sudden feelings of warmth that spread over the upper body, back, and neck, often with a lot of sweating and redness on the face.

  • Uneven or missed periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sore pain in breasts
  • The urgency to pee more often than usual
  • Trouble sleeping at nights
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Dry skin, eyes, or mouth

Other more severe symptoms include-

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Irritation
  • Heart rate increased
  • Headaches, body ache
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss

Menopause is frequently associated with weight gain and a shift in body fat distribution. Many women might have noticed the shift in weight gain more in their lower abdomen areas as compared to their body fat distribution in their early life stages. Abdominal obesity contributes to the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia, these are important risk markers of heart disease which is the major cause of death among postmenopausal women. Let us discuss the diet and lifestyle changes that may help to reduce the symptoms.

9 Ways to keep your health in check during Menopause-

There is no quick formula for weight loss. With your reduced hormonal levels and weight gain, your body is under metabolic slowdown, so you can always try to work around and keep your metabolic level charged. How?

  1. Be physically active. Any light fun 30 minutes of physical activity is good for health. Walk in the park, do yoga, and meditate in groups with friends or family.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Water keeps you hydrated and may help manage hot flashes.
  3. Keep your plate portions in check and have meals on time. Fixing time for your meals and snacks during the day will help in avoiding mindless eating and binging on junk snacks, which lead to weight gain.
  4. Rest- 8 hours of sleep. Gives your body good time to repair and heal.
  5. Controlling stress to reduce potential symptoms.
  6. Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins D and K — all of which are essential for bone health.
  7. Foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and anchovies, and seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, all of which are good fats.
  8. Whole grains are high in nutrients, including fiber and B complex vitamins. Whole-grain foods example brown rice, whole-wheat bread, barley, and quinoa.
  9. Fruits and vegetables are packed with minerals, vitamins, and fiber and are rich in antioxidants. Dark-colored berries have been proven to improve the health of menopause.

A diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein, and dairy products may reduce menopause symptoms. Phytoestrogens and healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish, have also helped many menopausal women. You may want to limit added sugars, processed carbs, alcohol, caffeine, and high-sodium or spicy foods as they trigger bad hot flashes. These simple changes to your diet could make this important transition in your life easier. Remember- It’s a natural process of life and it’s only temporary. Healthy eating and physical activity habits will put you in a good place during menopause and can help you feel much better after the hot flashes, mood swings, and sleepless nights are gone. :)

References:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1475-2891-9-64

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/menopause-diet#menopause

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/staying-healthy-through-good-nuitrition

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