Understand how certain foods can influence menopausal symptoms

March 13, 2024
Foods that may help with your menopausal symptoms

We’ve heard all the stories of some of the symptoms that come with menopause like weight gain, hot flushes, and bladder issues. But what if we told you that there’s a way to take control of these dreaded symptoms, naturally, without popping a pill?

Here’s a guide to help you eat your way to less severe symptoms of menopause:

What is menopause?

Menopause typically takes place in women between the ages of 40 – 50, although it can arrive sooner or much later. It is when there is a drastic decline in oestrogen, leading to the discontinuation of the natural menstrual cycle. This is a signal that your child-bearing years are behind you.

What are the common symptoms of menopause?

menopause

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Hot flushes or night sweats

According to John Hopkins Medicine, about 75% of women suffer from hot flushes. Not only do hot flushes increase the body temperature, but sometimes hot flushes also come with an increased heart rate, which could also lead to increased perspiration, heart palpitations, and dizziness.

Vaginal atrophy

This is one of those symptoms that many women would rather not talk about, but it is real nonetheless. It is the drying and thinning of vaginal tissue and the urethra. This could result in pain during sex, vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching, and pain), cystitis (an infection of the bladder), and urinary tract infections.

Weakness of the pelvic floor

When you hit menopause, you might find that your pelvic muscles have become weaker and you might experience issues of urinary incontinence when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.


ALSO READ: Foods that help maintain a healthy blood pressure


What foods can affect my symptoms of menopause?

As basic dietary recommendations go, a low-fat and high-fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain diet is advised.

Calcium and vitamin D are important to aid in the lowering of oestrogen levels and the effect that it may have on your bones.

Soy products:

Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. Some studies suggest that consuming soy products like tofu, soy milk, and edamame may help alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

Flaxseeds:

Flaxseeds are rich in lignans, another type of phytoestrogen. Incorporating ground flaxseeds into your diet may help reduce hot flashes and night sweats.

Whole grains:

Foods like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and oats are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce mood swings and irritability.

Fruits and vegetables:

Eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health during menopause. Aim for a rainbow plate to ensure you’re getting a diverse range of nutrients.

fruit and veg

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Calcium-rich foods:

As estrogen levels decline during menopause, women are at increased risk of osteoporosis. Consuming calcium-rich foods like dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods can help maintain bone health.

Fatty fish:

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines have anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate symptoms like joint pain and mood swings.

Water:

Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during menopause. Drinking plenty of water can help alleviate symptoms like vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections.

Foods to avoid during menopause

Limit alcohol and caffeine:

Both alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. It’s best to limit your intake of these beverages.

coffee

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Spicy foods:

Spicy foods can trigger hot flashes and exacerbate symptoms in some women. If you notice that spicy foods worsen your symptoms, consider reducing your intake.

Processed foods and sugars:

Processed foods high in refined sugars can contribute to weight gain and worsen mood swings and energy levels. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

It’s essential to listen to your body and pay attention to how different foods affect your symptoms. Keeping a food diary can help you identify triggers and make informed dietary choices to manage your symptoms of menopause effectively. Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and health history.

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This article was written and originally published by Marian Volkwyn for Woman&Home.

Feature image: Canva

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