Menopause can occur naturally as a woman ages, or it can be brought on early by certain medical conditions or surgical procedures. Most women will go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 58. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the average age for natural menopause in the US is 51.
Not all women experience symptoms associated with menopause, whereas others, unpleasant symptoms may interfere with daily life. One of the things that can affect what symptoms you experience are the foods that you eat.
Here are 8 foods to improve your menopause nutrition:
As women go through menopause, reproductive hormones including estrogen drastically decline. Estrogen plays an important role in building and maintaining your bones. The longer a woman experiences low levels of estrogen, the lower her bone density is likely to be and the greater her risk of developing osteoporosis.
Getting enough calcium is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Low-fat dairy products like yogurt, plus sardines, almonds, fortified orange juice, and some mineral waters are all ways to get calcium from food.
Salmon is rich in both vitamin D and omega-3 fats, two nutrients that are even more essential during menopause. While more research needs to be done, omega 3 fatty acids are linked to reducing night sweats and breast cancer risk.
Cruciferous vegetables offer multiple health benefits for menopausal women. Research has found that broccoli in particular has a positive impact on estrogen levels—increasing the estrogen responsible for reducing breast cancer risk and lowering the estrogen responsible for increasing one’s risk. Additionally, broccoli is full of calcium for strong bones and fiber to prevent bloating and weight gain.
Adding fiber to your diet in the form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can lower cholesterol, blood glucose, and prevent constipation—all health concerns that may arise as you get to menopause and beyond.
Try replacing one helping a day of refined carbohydrates like white bread or pasta with a whole grain version like oatmeal or brown rice pasta.
As an added bonus, fiber often makes you slow down to chew which can help you eat more slowly and register when you are full–both of which can prevent weight gain.
5. Olive Oil
Fats get a bad rap, but the truth is that some fat in your diet is essential. Fat helps moderate hormones, appetite, insulin response, and vitamin absorption. But not all fats are created equal. Increasing the amount of plant-based monosaturated fat can lower your cholesterol. When you cook, try substituting butter for olive or avocado oil.
Eggs are vitamin D-rich and full of iron, both nutrients that women often lack. Eggs are also a great protein source for menopausal women as they have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, heart disease risk, and obesity.
7. Beans and Lentils
Plant-based protein sources such as legumes have been shown to delay the onset of early menopause and prolong female reproductive function. Aiming for three to four servings per day of beans, nuts, peas, soy, and tofu, may have a protective effect on ovarian function in addition to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
8. Dark Leafy Greens
There are countless reasons to add more leafy greens to your diet—especially if you’re experiencing menopause. Again, cruciferous veggie consumption is a great way to pack in several hard-to-obtain nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and fiber. All of these nutrients are essential for health in menopause as calcium and potassium keep bones and muscles strong, B vitamins and fiber help prevent weight gain, and magnesium and B vitamins regulate our energy levels and moods.
Request an Appointment
As a certified menopause practitioner, Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is experienced in helping patients manage the symptoms of menopause. She can help develop a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 960-2720. Chapel Hill Gynecology is open for office visits (using recommended protocols for preventing COVID-19 exposure) as well as telemedicine visits.