Approximately two-thirds of women develop symptoms related to the menopausal transition. It can bring hot flashes, trouble sleeping, moodiness, irritability, pain during sex, or depression. Declining estrogen levels during this time negatively impacts your metabolism, potentially leading to weight gain and hormone changes can lead to lower bone density and an increase risk of fractures.
However, this doesn’t have to be a period when you feel in decline as many symptoms can be mitigated by diet and maintaining a positive attitude.
In this article, we share great food you can enjoy as well as botanicals and dietary supplements to help reduce negative symptoms and we also share food and drink you should avoid that might otherwise increase symptoms.
Great Food to Eat
Types of food you should eat to mitigate negative symptoms of menopause
1. Dairy Products
Whilst dairy products may cause inflammation in lactose intolerant individuals they are actually full of very good vitamins and minerals, and when used in moderation and from organic sources, they can provide support during menopause. Milk, yogurt and cheese contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamins D and K. Upping the amount of good quality, preferably organic, dairy products can help maintain good bone health and sleep. Cheese should only be eaten during the day however and never late at night as this is likely to give you powerful and sleep disturbing dreams.
For vegans we suggest the following for good bone health:
- Consume at least three servings per day of legumes (more if you’re over 50)
- Consume at least two cups per day of foods rich in well-absorbed calcium: cooked Chinese cabbage, turnip greens, mustard greens, collards, calcium-set tofu and fortified plant milks. Aim for three cups if you’re over 50.
- Take supplements of vitamin B12
2. High Calcium Products
Another important source of calcium can be found in sardines, salmon, broccoli and legumes. It is recommended that women who are suffering from menopause should consume 1,200 milligrams of these products per day. Consuming products with high calcium can help to maintain bone density.
3. Healthy Fats
Another type of food that you should consume are foods containing healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be commonly found in mackerel, anchovies and super food products, such as flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. These products can help women who are suffering from hot flashes or night sweats.
4. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Women who are experiencing menopause are recommended to up their diet of colourful fruits and vegetables as they can significantly reduce hot flashes.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends goji berries and Chinese red dates as these are well known to help reduce menopause symptoms. Goji berries are a nutrient-rich fruit that help to boost human growth hormone (HGH) production supporting longevity, performance and overall health. Chinese red date (Jujube or Da Zao) contains the flavonoid glycosides that have a sedative, hypnotic and anti-hypertensive effect. For Chinese, this fruit is used as a health tonic and traditional herb, especially to improve qi (energy) and blood as well as to energize the body.
5. Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which can help reduce hot flashes, depression and support sleeping. An eight-week study in 91 middle-aged women revealed that those who took 200 mg of grape seed extract supplements daily experienced fewer hot flashes, better sleep and lower rates of depression, compared to a control group
Everybody, regardless of age, needs to consume sufficient protein because it is linked to maintaining muscle mass. Women in menopause or perimenopause, need to consume more protein than younger women. It is recommended that women over 50 should eat 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of their body weight. This is because women at this age tend to have lower muscle mass and bone density. High protein foods include eggs, salmon, oats, tuna, chicken breast, lean meat, whey protein, lentils, pumpkin seeds, fish, shrimp, brussels sprouts, products from soybeans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and dairy products, such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. Moreover, Tryptophan, usually found in proteins from eggs, milk, sunflower seeds and sesame can also help support the production of serotonin, significantly assisting sleep and mood.
7. Food that Naturally Contain Phytoestrogens
Another type of food that women with menopause should eat is the food that naturally contains phytoestrogens, including soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, flax seeds, barley, berries, green tea, black tea, grapes, plums and fermented soybeans, such as Natto. Phytoestrogens are the compounds that can help balance the hormones, which in turn can help lower menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. However, it is important to note that for women with breast cancer or family history of cancer, should avoid this type of product.
Probiotics (healthy bacteria) which are usually found in fermented products, such as Kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir, not only benefit our digestive health but also benefit women who are having difficulty in dealing with menopause. According to a number of studies, probiotics can help to prevent vaginal atrophy, urinary tract infection, hot flashes and night sweats. Moreover, probiotics will help support the immune function and improve cognitive functioning.
Help yourself to foods high in fiber, such as legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Most adult women should get about 21 grams of fiber a day.
Water helps to prevent weight gain, aids weight loss and reduces symptoms of dryness.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you would like additional support or would like to know more about your own hormonal levels please visit us at Body Conscious. We have comprehensive laboratory testing for hormone levels and our Anti-Aging doctors and naturopaths offer advise on how to naturally adjust your lifestyle to support any inbalances.