Diet during menopause

Between the ages of 45 and 60, there is a phase of hormonal change: the so-called menopause. During this period, the so-called menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels in the body drop. In women, this can lead to a range of ailments, such as skin or weight problems and even osteoporosis. In this article, you will find out whether you can influence the hormonal imbalance through diet and how you can improve symptoms with the right food.

Complaints caused by hormonal changes

During menopause, estrogen levels drop, and production of the corpus luteum hormone progesterone decreases. As with other hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, the menopause often leads to discomfort and symptoms.

The body reacts to the falling estrogen and progesterone levels in part with:

This conversion process can take several years, and the symptoms vary from person to person. Menstrual bleeding (menopause) marks the end of the hormonal changes.

Some of these complaints can be alleviated or prevented from developing with the proper diet. You can find out below which nutrition tips help with which menopausal symptoms.

 

General tips: What to eat during menopause?

From the age of 50 at the latest, fresh foods with a high nutrient density should be preferred. These include, for example:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • potatoes
  • whole grain products
  • lean meat
  • Cold-water fish (mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines)
  • Dairy products

A balanced diet with little fat and sugar and lots of fresh ingredients will also benefit you during menopause.

Can nutrition replace artificial hormones?

If women suffer from severe menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy with artificial estrogens and progestins can be used to treat them. Since these can be associated with side effects, some of which are severe, depending on the age and previous illnesses of those affected, alternatives to hormone therapy are often sought.

Dietary supplements with phytoestrogens, i.e. plant substances whose chemical structure is similar to human estrogen, should help here. The best-known phytoestrogens are the so-called isoflavones. They are mainly found in soy and red clover.

Several smaller studies have shown that soy-based dietary supplements have a positive effect on vaginal dryness and hot flashes. So far, there is no clear evidence for red clover.

 

Be careful with dietary supplements.

When taking dietary supplements with isoflavones, the maximum values ​​set by the European Food Safety Authority should not be exceeded. For soy-based preparations with isolated isoflavones, these are a maximum of 100 milligrams per day over ten months.

Since there are no studies on possible long-term side effects of dietary supplements with phytoestrogens, a gynaecologist should always clarify the intake. This applies in particular if there is an increased risk of breast or cervical cancer or if the thyroid hormone thyroxine has to be taken.

An alternative to such dietary supplements is to ingest isoflavones through food. In addition to products with soy, such as soy milk or tofu, berries, dried fruit, and flaxseed also contain a high proportion of the plant substance.

Counteract weight problems during menopause.

Menopause can result in weight gain despite the same diet. On average, this is around five kilos for women going through the menopause. This is due to the change in body composition as muscle mass decreases. As a result, the basal metabolic rate gradually decreases, and physical activity often decreases. In addition, increased abdominal fat is stored due to hormonal changes.

The energy consumption is significantly reduced, yet the nutrient requirement remains unchanged; with some nutrients, it even increases – potassium, which is increasingly excreted through increased sweating. So it would help if you didn’t rely on radical diets to lose weight during menopause but adapted your diet to the changed fat metabolism.

low-fat diet is characterized by a low proportion of saturated fatty acids of animal origin (meat and sausages) and the switch to unsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils. These include olive, canola, and walnut oils. These oils support the adaptation to the lower energy requirement and ensure the supply of unsaturated, vascular-protecting fatty acids, which is why they positively affect the cardiovascular system. Low sugar and a high proportion of fruit and vegetables can also reduce weight.

An essential addition is regular exercise. Sporting activity can be carried out alone or with others to increase motivation . Muscle mass decreases during menopause, and energy consumption decreases. As a result, sport is, therefore, the ideal way to counteract weight gain during menopause.

Support the skin with the proper nutrition.

Externally visible changes during menopause are first noticeable on the skin. This becomes drier and loses elasticity because it stores less water. Sufficient fluid intake is, therefore, the top priority of a skin-friendly diet during menopause. The daily drinking amount should be between 1.5 and 2 litres. Mineral-rich water, juice spritzers or tea are particularly suitable as drinks.

Whey and buttermilk can also positively affect the skin during menopause. These contain a vast amount of protein, which promotes cell renewal. The calcium contained in dairy products is also needed to stabilize the skin.

Vitamin C also has a cell-protecting effect and is involved in the synthesis of collagen, ensuring the skin’s stability and elasticity. For the sake of your skin, it can’t hurt to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables during menopause.

 

Prevent osteoporosis through diet.

There is a constant cycle of bone breakdown and formation in the body. Calcium, among other things, is needed for bone formation. If there is a lack of estrogen during menopause, this also affects the absorption of calcium in the bones since estrogens control this process. Certain risk factors, such as a family history or taking certain medications, can further increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Diet can help prevent the development of osteoporosis during menopause. This includes adequate calcium intake. In addition to dairy products, calcium is mainly found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grain products.

In addition to calcium, vitamin D is an essential component in preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin D is necessary for the storage of calcium in the bones. To produce vitamin D, the body needs daylight. Regular exercise in the fresh air can also help to protect the bones. The body absorbs significantly less vitamin D from food. Foods high in vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, liver, or eggs.

Should certain foods be avoided?

There are no specific foods that should not be eaten at all during menopause. To best support the cardiovascular system and skin health and to reduce weight gain, a few simple rules for eating during menopause can be observed:

  • Reduce alcohol, cigarette and caffeine consumption
  • Avoid spicy foods during hot flashes
  • Eat less animal fat and sugar

Suppose you make sure to eat a balanced and healthy diet and exercise regularly during the menopause. In that case, this can also have a positive effect on the symptoms associated with the menopause.

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