Published: 03/11/2016 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
During the menopause, a woman experiences changes in her body and metabolism, including some symptoms which can be annoying. The role of her diet during this stage is important since it can help to combat or at least improve the symptoms and prevent associated conditions of the menopause.
The time when a woman ceases to menstruate is known as the menopause. However, when menopause occurs there are several hormonal changes prior to its appearance which are characterised by falling estrogen levels in the body, which, in turn, can alter our metabolism.
Strengthen your diet during menopause
During the menopause, there are certain nutritional needs that are enhanced and it is important to keep this in mind in order to avoid problems such as osteoporosis and anemia, among others.
Calcium: This mineral is important for the health of our bones and teeth, and also participates in other functions of the body such as muscle contraction. It is important to include enough calcium in our diet to avoid problems such as osteoporosis. Some foods rich in this mineral include milk, sardines, legumes, seeds such as almonds, among others.
Iron: During the menopause it is very important to include foods rich in iron, as they help to avoid problems of anemia. Some foods that contain iron include red meats (preferably lean), fish, green leafy vegetables and nuts, among others.
Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, so it should be present in our diet. Sun exposure can also help to produce or activate vitamin D levels in the body. Some dietary sources of vitamin D are milk, eggs, fish oil and liver.
Fibre: Although we do not absorb fibre, it plays an important role in our diet as it helps to improve digestion and protects us against cholesterol. During menopause, and after these hormonal changes, women are likely to have high cholesterol. High fibre foods are those from plant sources such as fruits and vegetables, or legumes. They are also found in whole grains.
Choose wholegrains: Wholegrain breads and brown rice, among other examples, are better than refined grains like white flour and white rice, because to refine the grain is to remove the fibre and thus losing their ability to satiate and also some of their nutrients. It is therefore better to opt for whole grains.
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Drink plenty of water: To have a healthy body and prevent fluid retention, it is important to drink 6 glasses of water a day, depending on our physical activity. It is necessary to drink more water when we sweat or experience more fluid loss.
Foods to Avoid
Suitable foods for the menopause are not far from a healthy diet, and to feel better, it is necessary to maintain a healthy weight and good quality nutrition, which is why it is advised to moderate the consumption of the following foods:
Fatty foods: Avoid eating high fat foods, such as sausages and cured meats, fatty cheeses, butter, meat or meat cuts rich in fat, etc. Vegetable fats, such as olive oil, are preferable. Remember to also avoid trans fats, which increase our cholesterol levels and are found in margarine, bakery products, fried foods, etc.
Reduce your sugar intake: Due to these hormonal changes, it is easy for our body to go through a series of changes and quite often it will develop the tendency to gain weight. Reducing your consumption of sugars such as sugar, candy, ice cream, pastries, etc. will help you to maintain the ideal weight.
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Moderate your salt intake: Excess salt in our diet can affect our body to help blood pressure and fluid retention. Salt not only prevents this, but also foods which contain excessive amounts, such as sausages and cured meats, canned and cured foods, etc.
Beneficial foods for menopause symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiety, among others related to menopause you should know that there are some foods that can help you combat them.
Many plant foods contain isoflavones: A substance that acts in our body with some similarity to estrogen. Some foods that contain them are apples, sweet potatoes, soybeans and soy products like tofu and soy milk.
Exercise can also promote our health during this stage, but this does not necessarily mean that you have to do an exhaustive routine every day.
Half an hour walking, dancing, practicing aerobics, swimming or any physical activity you enjoy can be the ideal exercise, as it helps maintain the health of our bones, joints and heart, as well as our entire body to keep active.
On the other hand, yoga is a relaxing activity which helps us remain flexible and tones our muscles.
To take care of our health, not only during the stage of menopause, it is important to consider the following recommendations:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid or moderate your alcohol consumption
- Watch your weight, try to maintain a healthy weight
- Control your stress levels
- Keep a positive attitude, try to smile and enjoy every day!
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