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What to eat to help with the menopause?

The menopause is a natural transition in a woman's life, and the hormonal changes at this time can bring about a number of symptoms and changes to the body. Good nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting overall health and well-being during menopause and can help protect against longer term increased risks of heart disease and bone thinning. Regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and maintaining a healthy weight are also important components of overall well-being during menopause.

Calcium and Vitamin D: Around the time of menopause there can be quite rapid loss of bone density and adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, tofu, almonds, and fortified foods. Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight exposure and fortified foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, but this may not be sufficient. It is advisable to take 1000iu Vitamin D daily as a supplement.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation associated with menopause. Additionally, omega-3s support cardiovascular health by lowering triglyceride levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.


Phytoestrogens: Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that have oestrogen-like effects in the body. They may help alleviate menopausal symptoms by modulating hormonal fluctuations. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains such as oats and barley.


Fruits and Vegetables: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, which support overall health and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Aim to include a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure a diverse array of nutrients.


Whole Grains: Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, barley, and whole wheat provide complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They help stabilise blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and support digestive health.


Protein: Adequate protein intake is important for muscle maintenance, repair, and hormone production. Choose lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu, and nuts. Spread protein intake throughout the day to support muscle synthesis and energy levels.


Hydration: Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, especially during menopause when symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats may increase fluid loss. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit consumption of sugary beverages and alcohol.


Limit Added Sugars and Processed Foods: Minimize intake of foods and beverages high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed ingredients. These can contribute to weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and inflammation, exacerbating menopausal symptoms and increasing the risk of chronic diseases.


Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish into your diet. Healthy fats support hormone production, brain health, and cardiovascular function.


Limit Sodium and Saturated Fats: High intake of sodium and saturated fats can contribute to bloating, water retention, and increased risk of heart disease. Opt for lower-sodium options and limit consumption of processed and fried foods.

Dr Helen Kennedy, Women’s Health Doctor at The Maxwell Practice in Henley-on- Thames

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