Midlife Nutrition: Changes During Menopause
Nutritional needs change during menopause
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is important at any stage of life. But during menopause—as menstruation ends and hormonal levels shift—our nutritional needs change in turn. The decrease in estrogen can lead to some very recognizable symptoms (like hot flashes), but estrogen has a wide reach throughout the body. It impacts how we use calcium, maintain cholesterol levels, and metabolize food. Mindful dietary changes can address many of those shifts—and even help alleviate menopause symptoms.
General guidelines and the role of health coaching
A variety of vegetables, leafy greens, lean proteins, and calcium will fuel your body as estrogen levels change. Explore some specific recommendations in the final section of this post.
But like so many things in life, consistency is key to feeling your best during menopause. Upliv’s philosophy toward member nutrition and overall health is to find solutions you can maintain. (Crash diets aren’t exactly known for their sustainability.) That’s why we bring a whole-person focus to menopause care, pairing patients with Health Coaches to assess and optimize aspects of your daily life. As you navigate your transition, your Health Coach can provide context, additional information, and actionable tips to ease your symptoms. And regular check-ins ensure members stay on track and in touch to address any new concerns.
Each person’s optimal menopause diet is different
Much as we might wish for one, there isn’t a single food or diet that relieves all menopause symptoms. (We’ll let you know if we ever find it.) But with some patience, self-compassion, and a bit of trial and error, you’ll find the foods that work best for you. Keep an eye out for any specific ingredients that might trigger symptoms, and remember to build a diet you can maintain. And make sure to include foods you enjoy—your diet should still nourish you, body and soul.
Menopause-specific food recommendations:
Calcium-rich foods keep your bones strong and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
- Dairy—milk, yogurt, and cheese—will boost your calcium intake.
- If dairy isn’t your thing, there are other calcium-rich foods to try, like oatmeal, orange juice, leafy vegetables, and tofu.
Leafy greens and vegetables help to manage weight while delivering lots of calcium.
- Try to fill half your daily “plate” with green leafy vegetables to ensure you’re getting all of that nutritional value.
- Some especially calcium-rich vegetables are spinach, turnips, and collard greens.
Some studies have shown certain foods can help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. These are soy products, foods containing phytoestrogens, and lots of veggies.
- Some soy foods to try are tofu, soybeans (edamame), soy milk, or tempeh.
- Phytoestrogen-rich foods are: soy products (see above), berries, oats, carrots, apples, or dried beans.
- Some vegetables to add to your plate are: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, kale, or zucchini.
It may sound counterintuitive, but certain fats are very important to our overall health. Specifically omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Foods with these healthy fats are: sardines, salmon, anchovies, avocado, flaxseed, or chia seeds.
- Another way to increase your intake is by simply swapping out your meat for fish, and butter for olive oil.
Lean proteins will strengthen your bones and maintain muscle mass. Target proteins like grilled chicken, tuna, turkey, lean beef, and lentils.
Foods to limit or avoid during menopause.
- Coffee. We know, this one stings. But there is evidence that caffeine intake is associated with more intense vasomotor symptoms. Vasomotor symptoms—related to the dilation and constriction of veins and arteries—can be further exacerbated by caffeine, which can elevate your heart rate and cause dehydration.
- Alcohol. A single glass of wine won’t impact your symptoms, but having more than one drink a day could—one study linked alcohol to more intense vasomotor symptoms.
- Processed sugars and fats. While you may have heard to avoid these before, menopause is an even better time to cut down. Processed foods tend to increase blood pressure, so could intensify vasomotor symptoms. Try to avoid fast or fried foods, sugary drinks, baked goods, and butter or margarine.
Menopause Diet: What to Eat to Help Manage Symptoms – Cleveland Clinic
What To Eat When You Have Hot Flashes – Cleveland Clinic
Menopause: Age, Stages, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
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