Menopause represents a hormonal transition in a woman’s life. This natural shift is characterized by the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. A woman is officially considered menopausal once she no longer has a menstrual cycle for a full year. However, there are other symptoms associated with menopause that can last for years. People often associate menopause with unpleasant symptoms and increased risk of certain conditions, but a healthy diet could make the transition easier.
Here are some of the reasons eating healthy is especially important for women who are going through menopause.
Physical Changes Associated with Menopause
Once a woman reaches menopause and in the years that follow, her estrogen levels naturally decline. This interrupts the hormonal pattern of estrogen and progesterone which means a woman’s metabolism will be affected. This can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and weight gain since the body may start digesting carbohydrates differently after menopause.
Some women may also experience sleep disturbances and hot flashes during this physical transition; a menopause supplement can help reduce these symptoms. In addition to supplements that regulate hormones, there are also some foods women may want to incorporate into their diets.
Since women are producing less estrogen in menopause, they are more prone to bone fractures.
Consuming dairy products like yogurt and cheese is beneficial because they contain essential nutrients like vitamins D and K, calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Research reveals that in a study involving 750 post-menopausal women, those who consumed more animal protein, including dairy products, are more likely to have higher bone density. Dairy products can also lower the risk of premature menopause, which is menopause that occurs in women who are younger than 45.
Eating dairy products can also help menopausal women get better sleep. Dairy contains glycine which is an amino acid that can lead to deeper and more fulfilling sleep.
Omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats could be beneficial for menopausal women. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or consuming foods like salmon and tuna can lower the risk of night sweats and hot flashes. You can also enjoy healthy fats from vegetarian sources such as chia seeds and flaxseeds. These seeds can be added to fruit smoothies or oatmeal for a daily serving of healthy fats.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are filled with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can protect the body against harmful toxins. According to dietary guidelines in the US, half of every meal should consist of fruits and vegetables.
A one-year research study involving more than 17,000 women revealed that the women who ate more fruits, vegetables, soy, and fiber had a 19% reduction in hot flashes. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower may be especially helpful for menopausal women. Not only can these vegetables ease menopause symptoms but they may lower the risk of breast cancer as well.
Dark berries can also provide health benefits for women going through menopause. Berries may lower blood pressure in older women, but more research is needed to confirm this.
A diet filled with whole grains has been connected with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and premature death. Research indicates that people who consumed three or more servings of whole grains daily had up to a 30% lower chance of developing diabetes and heart disease compared to people who primarily consumed refined carbohydrates.
An additional study asserts that more than 11,000 postmenopausal women who consumed 4.7 grams of whole-grain fiber lower their risk of premature death by 17% compared to women who only consumed 1.3 grams of fiber.
Including foods like brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread or pasta, and rye can help to satisfy hunger while providing health benefits that can make menopausal more manageable. It may be best to consume whole-grain foods in place of processed carbohydrates for blood sugar and weight management which is especially important during menopause.
These diet tips can be helpful during any phase of life but are especially important for women who are experiencing a natural decline in hormones. A balanced diet can provide the body with more energy and help to balance the metabolism so that menopause can still be a fulfilling and enjoyable time in a woman’s life.