Previously I wrote about how to cope with menopause. Today nutritionist Elizabeth McMillan will give you some tips on which foods help with menopause and which should be best to avoid.
Menopause is a transitional time when hormones begin to decline. When this occurs, you may experience decreased energy levels and libido, hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain and changes in your bone health, urinary health, memory and heart health.
Easy to follow lifestyle changes, such as exercise and healthy eating can improve many of these symptoms. Good nutrition can significantly improve how a woman feels. Let’s take a look at the specific foods and nutrients that can improve your symptoms and those that can worsen your symptoms.
Foods to Improve Your Menopausal Symptoms
There are a variety of foods that can improve and combat the symptoms of menopause. These foods help to improve the immune system, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, increase estrogen levels naturally, improve gut health and strengthen your blood vessels and bones. When a woman is going through menopause, her estrogen levels begin to decline, eating a diet filled with whole foods and phytoestrogens can combat the effects of low estrogen levels.
Polyphenols are pigments found in plants that are responsible for the plant’s coloring and are antioxidants that decrease oxidative stress by improving the immune system. These nutrients provide some of the same benefits of HRT without the drawbacks associated with HRT. Some foods with high levels of polyphenols include grapes, berries, citrus fruits, mangoes, apples, pears, onions, nuts, lentils, legumes, parsley and tea.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids reduce LDL cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also help reduce the number of hot flashes experienced by a woman going through menopause. Some foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids include fatty fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and oysters. Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids include chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that are weaker than the estrogen that occurs naturally in the body. They may also help lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Phytoestrogens decrease inflammation and reduce vaginal dryness and hot flashes in menopausal women. Foods and herbs that contain phytoestrogens include soy, red clover, hops, Maca, motherwort, Dong Quai, black cohosh, white sage, white peony, passion flower and chaste berry.
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for organ and bone health, energy production and enzyme activity. Magnesium can reduce many menopause symptoms, including vaginal dryness, edema, mood swings, irritability, anxiety and low energy. To increase your magnesium levels naturally, enjoy a handful of Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, quinoa, halibut, tuna, lima beans and black beans.
As your hormone levels decrease during menopause, your body will not be able to retain calcium the way it once did. This can lead to osteoporosis, which is a condition where the bones become weak. Foods rich in calcium include green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli, sea vegetables, salmon, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, Brazil nuts and tofu.
Vitamin C strengthens the membranes in the blood vessels and acts as an antioxidant to help reduce hot flashes. Additionally, vitamin C helps to support the mineralization of bone which lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Try consuming more bell peppers, broccoli, kale, citrus fruits, mangoes, kiwi, papaya and strawberries to increase your intake of vitamin C .
When your hormones fluctuate, an imbalance of gut bacteria can happen. This can lead to gas, constipation, bloating, digestive issues and improper absorption of nutrients. Consuming whole foods, including lean proteins and fermented foods, can help restore gut health. Finally, ensure that you are drinking adequate water to keep your digestive tract functioning properly.
Foods to Avoid When Going through Menopause
In addition to consuming the foods listed above to ensure your body is receiving the essential nutrients it needs to combat the symptoms of menopause, there are numerous foods that you should limit. These foods can aggravate urinary incontinence, cause mood swings, trigger hot flashes and increase your risk of bone loss.
Caffeine and other types of stimulants can increase the frequency and severity of your hot flashes since they can cause calcium loss, anxiety and insomnia. Avoid caffeinated coffee, sodas and teas and opt for decaffeinated herbal iced teas and caffeine-free coffee and sodas.
Spicy foods contain compounds that increase circulation and raise your body temperature. Peppers, such as bell peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, serrano and cayenne peppers, contain capsaicin that can increase the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. Other spicy foods that can increase the body temperature include garlic, onions and curry powder, alcoholic beverages, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger and horseradish.
Refined Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates
Refined sugars like those found in processed foods and sodas and refined carbs, including pasta, white bread, potatoes and white rice can cause spikes in glucose levels. When your blood sugar levels crash after consuming these items, you can feel fatigued and irritable. Furthermore, sugars and carbs can cause weight gain. Instead, choose whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat breads and pasta.
Fried, Fatty Foods
WebMD reports that you should limit your fat to no more than 35 % of your daily fats. Additionally, your consumption of saturated fats should be no more than 7% of your total calories. Saturated fat increases cholesterol levels and increases the risk of heart disease. Most women gain ten to fifteen pounds while going through menopause, limiting fried and fatty foods can help you prevent this weight gain.
There are many options when it comes to combating the symptoms of menopause. Eating a healthy diet filled with nutritious fruits and vegetables and lean meats, drinking plenty of water and avoiding foods that increase circulation and heat within the body can help minimize the symptoms of menopause.
Also refer to – http://40plusstyle.com/how-to-cope-with-perimenopause-please-share-your-advice-and-experience
About Elizabeth McMillan
Elizabeth McMillan, MS, CNS is a board-certified nutritionist focusing on holistic nutritional counseling at Rose Wellness Center in Northern Virginia. She believes in finding the root cause of aliments and focuses on preventive health and optimizing one’s wellness. Elizabeth specializes in diabetes, metabolic syndrome, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, autoimmunity, hormone imbalances in men and women, and other metabolic complications.