Yes, food can help you get through menopause. No, we’re not talking about the ice-cream-eating-while-watching-Bridget-Jones’-Diary extravaganza you might have in mind. This 10-step menopause diet is about boosting your energy, potentially reducing your symptoms, and helping you live a long and healthy life. This is not a quick-fix diet, but a long-term approach to ageing well for women experiencing menopause. We also regularly publish menopause-friendly recipes, which include many of the recommended foods in this diet.
Increasing your intake of plants, such as adding seeds and nuts to your morning muesli, could help you manage some of the symptoms of menopause. Plants naturally produce something called phytoestrogens (plant estrogen), which are not that different from the estrogen that your own body produces. Eating phytoestrogens can produce some of the same effects as human estrogen, which may help some women cope with symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. (For a higher boost of estrogen, chat to your doctor about menopausal hormone therapy or MHT.)
Australian Heart Foundation recommends eating 2–3 serves of fish a week to keep your heart health on track. As you go through menopause, your estrogen levels decrease and your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. It’s the unfortunate reality of getting older. You can reduce your overall risk of heart disease with a diet high in omega-3 oils.
The Japanese are onto something. It turns out, seaweed is incredibly nutritious, often containing higher levels of certain nutrients than most other foods. It has a range of health benefits, and being high in iodine helps promote thyroid function.
You can get the benefits of seaweed with just a few servings a week. But take note, you need to limit your intake of kelp, kombu or dulse as it contains very high amounts of iodine.
Constipation is common, affecting about one in five people every year. Fibre can help, and can also restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut. It can be found in all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.
Menopause may be stressful life event. You may want to reach for the bag of crisps, but your inner calm will benefit long-term from choosing the healthy option. Leafy green vegetables are rich in magnesium, which can help reduce anxiety. Berries are full of antioxidants, which may help reduce anxiety and depression.
And, then there’s chocolate. If the thought of steamed kale or a bowl of berries doesn’t quite do it for you, then you’ll be relieved to know that chocolate is also jam-packed with magnesium and antioxidant goodness. Go for dark chocolate, and check the sugar content.
After menopause, low levels of estrogen can weaken your bones bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet every single day. Luckily, calcium can be found in some of life’s most enjoyable foods, including dairy and some alternatives.
As you reach your 40s and 50s, it’s common to put on weight. You can blame your hormones for some of the problem, as changes in perimenopause might mean your tummy is a little pudgier than before. But, lifestyle also plays a part. We know, you’ve heard it all before. Being overweight is bad for your health: it increases your risk of lots of chronic disease, including diabetes and cancer. For many women, menopause can be a time of reflection, change and empowerment. With the increase in ‘me-time’ that often comes at 45 and beyond, becoming healthy can become a doable life priority.
Fat is an important part of your diet, but the tricky part is knowing which ones to eat and which ones to avoid. There are four types of fats; some good and some bad. Unsaturated fats – including polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats – offer many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering cholesterol levels. This fat naturally occurs in many foods, including olive oil, avocado, some nuts and oily fish.
Saturated fats contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease, and therefore should be limited. This is the fat often found in processed food, but is also in dairy products and meats. Trans fats are also bad. These are fats created by processing unsaturated fats and are commonly found in deep fried food, and manufactured foods like cakes.
We all know that too much sugar isn’t good for you.
Avoid food and drinks with added sugars, such as soft drinks, lollies and some dairy products like sweetened yogurt or milk. You might also be surprised them some savory foods, like tomato sauce, contain added sugar.
This is particularly important after menopause because the changes in your hormone levels affect how your cells respond to insulin. So you might find that your blood sugar levels are more variable than before. Try eating fruit instead of foods high in added sugar, or low GI foods, which gradually increase your blood sugar.
Hot flushes can be triggered or worsened by certain foods and drinks, such as spicy food, caffeine and alcohol. Pay attention to your responses to certain foods so you can cut them out of your diet.
Taking control of your diet is a great way to help manage the symptoms of menopause – and boost your health and longevity. Get inspired with our menopause-friendly recipes. Also discover other ways to improve your journey through menopause, from exercises for menopausal women to treatment options for menopause symptoms. And if you’re feeling peckish, grab yourself some berries or nuts to nibble on while you browse this site.
Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. 38-42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, NSW, 2114. PP-DU-AUS-0225, 11/2017