Menopause can be a difficult time for a lot of women so today I am going to write about some of the ways women can help themselves through this stage of life.
Statistically, menopause occurs between the ages of 40 and 58 years with the average age being 51 years. Endocrinological and clinical features such as weight gain, hot flashes, mood changes, insomnia, fatigue and memory problems can occur. Not every woman will experience all or any of these symptoms but many will.
Exercise is one of the ways perimenopausal or menopausal women can help to manage the symptoms. There are many benefits for women who exercise into menopause, so supporting yourself nutritionally to stay active is very important.
Some of the benefits of exercising are:
- Improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness.
• Preserve or improve muscle mass.
• Control weight and metabolism.
• Improve or maintain bone density.
• Reduced risk of associated conditions.
• Assist mental health and self-esteem.
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. They often increase just before menopause, and peak 2-3 years after onset, then taper off. Some of the triggers include stress, coffee, spicy foods, alcohol, sugar, citrus fruits, a high BMI, smoking and SSRI’s (antidepressant).
Studies have shown that consuming 50-100 mg/day of isoflavones from food helps to relieve hot flashes. This would be equivalent to consuming one of the following:
- 1-1/2 cups of soy milk
- 120g of tempeh or tofu
- ½ cup edamame
- 3-4 Tablespoons of miso
It’s best to get isoflavones from food rather than supplements. Isoflavone supplements might interfere with thyroid function and inhibit mineral absorption, so stick with whole food sources.
Osteoporosis (weakening of bone mass) is another concern for menopausal women. Some ways to preserve bone mass upon menopause are:
- Incorporate green leafy veggies, legumes and nuts/seeds – these are the optimal sources of calcium.
- Get outside in the sun for Vitamin D.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, salt, carbonated drinks, and caffeine as they create an acidic environment and leech calcium from your bones.
- Eat Edamame (soy beans). Soy can help increase intestinal calcium absorption.
- Do resistance training.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid refined sugars/grains – these don’t provide nutrients and increase inflammation.
Mood swings can be a common symptom of menopause. Some ways to support yourself nutritionally are:
- Incorporate plenty of whole foods rich in vitamin C like capsicum, citrus fruits, broccoli, and potatoes.
- Eat foods with B vitamins for the nervous system like wild rice, brown rice and quinoa.
- Eat whole grains to bump up serotonin.
- Don’t skip meals – try to eat regularly.
- Limit processed foods.
- Limit/avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Incorporate omega-3 fats from algae, flax, hemp, chia, and walnuts.
The takeaway from this is that we can have some control over the symptoms we experience throughout menopause. Following these guidelines, keeping active and reducing stress will all help to make the transition into menopause a breeze.
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