Menopause : Foods That Help To Ease Symptoms
Menopause is a phase in a woman’s life filled with a lot of changes and uncomfortable symptoms. Menopause can occur in your mid-30’s, yet most women experience menopause in their 40’s or 50’s. That being said, there are other factors that can trigger early menopause, such as cancer treatments or a hysterectomy.
Aside from the natural biological changes that aging brings, women also have to deal with significant hormonal changes, courtesy of menopause. It is during menopause where a woman stops getting her periods and this signals her infertility. Unfortunately, while menopause is confirmed a year after a woman’s last period, symptoms of menopause can last for several years.
Menopause changes and symptoms
During menopause, the hormone estrogen starts to decline and this then triggers a wave of symptoms. Estrogen is responsible for the regulation of the female reproductive system, which is why it’s no wonder that its decline triggers uncomfortable symptoms.
Studies have revealed that the symptoms associated with the declining levels of estrogen include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, night sweats, depression, weight gain, low bone density, and a lower sex drive (1, 2, 3, 4). Other changes include loss of volume in the breasts, dryer skin and thinning hair.
With menopause causing so many uncomfortable symptoms, it has become quite important for a lot of women to find remedies that can help to alleviate these symptoms. Fortunately, one natural remedy that exists in our diets.
Menopause is a time where bone health becomes a top priority.
As you transition into menopause, the risk of you experiencing fractures increases as the reduction of estrogen actually speeds up the bone loss – which is why osteoporosis is more common in postmenopausal women (5). Hence, it is important for menopausal women to include plenty of calcium in their diets.
Dairy products like yogurt and cheese are incredibly rich in calcium but so are other foods like figs, spinach, and almonds.
In addition, it is important to remember that vitamin D is needed for the body to better absorb calcium. In fact, one study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who had high intakes of both vitamin D and calcium faced a lower risk of early menopause. You can ensure that you get enough vitamin D by spending at least 10 minutes per day outside and consuming fatty fish like sardines and salmon.
Not all fats are the enemy because not all fats are created equal.
Healthy fats help to regulate hormones, appetite and reduce inflammation. One study found that menopausal women who took omega-3 supplements faced a decreased frequency of hot flashes. Healthy fats can be found in avocados, nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and salmon.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
If you’re looking to enjoy a healthy diet, fresh fruits and vegetable always need to be a part of it. These foods are rich in vital antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
According to one study published in the peer-reviewed journal Menopause, women who ate more fruits and vegetable faced a reduction in hot flashes. It should also be noted that a lot of leafy green vegetables are high in calcium, and bone health is an area of concern in menopausal women. Aside from spinach, calcium-rich vegetables include kale, broccoli, and okra.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that mimic the effects of real estrogen in the body. They are being found in soy products like natty and tofu. While there is some controversy on including phytoestrogens in one’s diet, studies have revealed that they help to ease menopausal symptoms in some women.
Aside from soy products, phytoestrogens can also be found in flaxseeds, oats, and chickpeas.
As vaginal dryness and dry skin are symptoms of menopause, it is important to ensure that you are thoroughly hydrated. As dehydration can heighten menopausal symptoms, it is advisable to drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day. You can also indulge in water-rich foods like cucumber, tomatoes, and cauliflower (6).
Foods to avoid
In hoping to ease the symptoms linked to menopause, it is also advisable to stay clear of the following foods;
- Added sugars:Added sugars are found in processed foods and they increase the risk for high blood sugar and insulin resistance. These two factors can then increase the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women (7).
- Alcohol : While drinking a daily glass of wine has been linked to several benefits, the consumption of alcohol can trigger hot flashes and weight gain in some menopausal women.
- Spicy Foods : Thanks to the compound capsaicin, spicy foods do provide health benefits. Unfortunately, some women have associated hot flashes with spicy food intake (8). That being said, if you are experiencing hot flashes, you may want to reduce your consumption of chillies.
- High-Salt Foods : Foods high in sodium include smoked and cured meat and frozen dinners. A high intake of salted foods has been linked to hypertension and heart disease. Moreover, one Korean study revealed that a high salt intake lowered bone density in postmenopausal women.
Want to know more?
Our metabolism slows down as we age and this increases the risk of weight gain during menopause. If you’re experiencing the numbers on your scale rising rapidly during your transition , then just so you know – you are not alone. Click here to discover how you can avoid menopausal weight gain.