Eating a balanced and healthy diet is crucial for overall health at all stages of life. Matching what you put into your body to what your body needs during menopause is a manageable and customizable option to influence any symptoms you are experiencing, regardless of whether they are vasomotor (like hot flashes), psychological (like depression or anxiety), urogenital (like vaginal dryness), Somato-Vegatative-Body (like joint pain) and Somato-Vegetative-Head (like migraines and headaches).
Menopause & Nutrition.
Nutritional choices cannot ‘un-age’ you – but healthy choices can compensate for the impacts of your natural menopausal transition by helping to influence individual symptoms that are affecting you.
Additionally, healthy nutrition can prevent, delay and treat the onset of many symptoms, improving the aging experience. For example, as our bodies enter the menopausal transition, hormone production fluctuates a lot and we can experience many changes to our bodies including (but not limited to) weight gain; abdominal issues; bone loss; cognitive decline, and sexual changes.
Nutrition Recommendations for Menopause.
Any nutrition plan that focuses on fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil and lean meats while limiting salt intake, sweets, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugar loaded drinks is optimal during the menopausal transition. Low-fat and plant-based diets (vegan and vegetarian) are associated with heart health benefits and beneficial effects on body composition. However, they may require supplementation with vitamin B12, micronutrients like iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
There are multiple ‘diet’ plans that meet these requirements easily available. You can ask your healthcare provider for recommendations, do your own research, or consult a certified Nutritionist to create your individualized plan based on your preferences and food intolerances to make this a more sustainable approach. Three well-known food plans, or ‘diets’ also fit the requirements – The DASH diet (dietary approach to stop hypertension), the Mediterranean diet (MD), and the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), but they are not the only choices. These three diets, or others that decrease processed food intake and increase vegetable, fruit, whole grain and lean proteins, should help the primary prevention of bone, metabolic, and cardiovascular diseases in the postmenopausal period.
Phytoestrogens are natural substances that include isoflavones, lignans, coumestans, stilbenes, and flavonoids. Plant-based diets, especially those that include soy products, are rich in phytoestrogens. Studies support the idea that phytoestrogens can improve many symptoms seen during the menopause transition, including reducing hot flashes. However, as with any nutritional supplement, talk to your health care provider before using them, particularly to ensure there are no interactions with other medications or supplements you are taking.