Nutritional guidelines in menopause
Most women dread the word menopause. It affects women in completely different ways, but the most common symptoms include hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, impairment of memory and fatigue.
Long term consequences can include a decline in libido, osteoporosis, heart disease, even dementia – all linked to reduced estrogen levels. Consulting a reputed hospital can be of tremendous help.
It has been noted that eating and avoiding certain types of foods can make menopause a lot more bearable. The CK Birla Hospital recommends the right diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and learning to relax — you will find you have more energy to enjoy your life.
Here are some tips to counter the menopause symptoms:
- Hot flushes – Avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night
- Tiredness – Avoid snacking on sugary foods – as it often leads to a sharp rise in your blood glucose level followed by a sharp dip leaving you to feel tired and drained. Choose fresh fruits with a few nuts instead.
- Weight gain – Watch the amount of fat in your diet and cut back on sugar. Eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat, brown grains, wholemeal pasta, bread, and rice, as they will help balance blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Dry skin – Legumes, nuts, and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, almonds contain vitamin E, zinc and calcium. These nutrients and the oils in nuts and seeds may help prevent dry skin and normalize hormone levels.
Depression and irritability
- Ensure you eat enough protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan. You can find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats, and legumes.
- Tryptophan helps manufacture the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Serotonin helps moods and may help control sleep and appetite which can make you feel better in yourself
- Eat breakfast and not miss meals to balance your blood sugar.
- Women going through the menopause should increase their intake of food sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to maintain the integrity of the skeleton.
- High amounts of phosphorous – Found in red meat, processed foods, and fizzy drinks – should also be avoided. Too much phosphorus in the diet accelerates the loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the bone.
- Reducing sodium, caffeine, and protein from animal products can also help the body maintain calcium stores.
- Opt for more alkaline foods – Vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and yogurt – to help prevent calcium reserves from being leached from bones.
- Eat foods high in magnesium and boron. These are minerals that are important for the replacement of bone and thus help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Apple, pears, grapes dates, raisins, legumes, and nuts are good sources of boron.
- Calcium supplements, other vitamins, and minerals that are vital for bone health are magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin D, and zinc.
Choose a supplement with a combination of these and they should be in the right proportion for maximum effect. Weight-bearing exercise is vital too.
Points to remember
- Eat more of the right fats – Include essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the diet as recommended by our expert gynecologist in Gurgaon. EFAs are found in nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
The best EFAs are those from the omega-3 and omega-6 families, which are found in pumpkin seeds, oily fish, walnuts, linseeds, dark green vegetables and oils such as sesame, walnut, soy and sunflower, flaxseeds, rice bran oil. Use blends of Oil.
- Increase your Fruits and Vegetable intake – Include 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily dietary intake.
- Stay well hydrated – Drink 2 to 2.5 liters of water daily
- Eat smaller portions more regularly
- Eat more phytoestrogens – Increase your intake of phytoestrogens by taking more of soya milk and soya flour, linseeds, tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, celery, and green beans.
- Flaxseed – Flaxseed is a wonderful plant-based food with omega-3 fatty acids. Try sprinkling ground flaxseed on cereal, yogurt, and salads; it adds fiber to your diet, keeps your arteries healthy, and has some estrogen-like compounds.
- Increase iron intake. Eating at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that an adequate amount of iron is present in the daily diet. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products.
- Exercise frequently – Doing 45 minutes of exercise plays an important role in improving circulation and heart function, decreasing cholesterol and bone loss and helps to improve our ability to cope with stress.
Make an appointment with our expert nutritionist Dr. Deepti Tiwari at The CK Birla Hospital.