Nutrition Tips for Menopause Symptom Relief

Approximately 75% of women experience menopausal symptoms that can disrupt their everyday lives and have an impact on their quality of life. 

The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can lead to a multitude of symptoms for some and focusing on your nutrition is one way to support yourself in this transition. 

The Role of Diet in Managing Menopause Symptoms

While there is no one-size-fits-all menopause diet or treatment for that matter, adopting a healthy eating pattern such as the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial during the menopausal transition. We know that this diet emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, yoghurt, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil. These foods provide essential nutrients, including phytoestrogens found in soyfoods, which may help support many symptoms. 

The Mediterranean diet is about ‘eating the rainbow’! Essentially eating as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as you can. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, which are essential for maintaining overall health and well-being, supporting hormonal balance and reducing inflammation in the body, not to mention affording long term health benefits. 

Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, brown pasta,  and whole wheat bread can help you feel fuller for longer and help to regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of energy crashes and mood swings often associated with menopause.

Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and support heart health. 

Fermented dairy products such as Kefir and yoghurts are a good source of probiotics, which promote a healthy gut microbiome and can help alleviate digestive issues that may arise during menopause. Probiotics have also been linked to improved mood and well-being. Improving your gut health in the menopause can really aid your overall health. 

Pulses such as lentils, chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fibre and various important nutrients. They can help regulate blood sugar, improve satiety and support overall gut health.

Olive oil….. The golden nectar of the Med in my opinion!  Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Olive oil is a healthy fat and has been linked to good heart health by protecting against inflammation and reducing our ‘bad’ cholesterol for example. As women progress through the menopause heart disease is more common so protecting the heart from a nutritional aspect is important. 

Including vitamin D and calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as dairy products, can support bone health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, ensuring optimal bone strength and minimising the risk of osteoporosis. Using the calcium calculator online can be a helpful tool to check that you are consuming enough calcium. If you’re not sure, please speak to your healthcare professional for more advice. 

Lifestyle Changes for Menopause Symptom Management

Besides dietary changes, certain lifestyle modifications can have a significant impact on managing menopause symptoms and should be thought of as just as important as medications such as hormone replacement therapy. 

Stress Reduction 

The effects of menopause can be exacerbated by stress, increase our cortisol levels and thus lead to worsening of our menopausal symptoms and an overall decline in well-being. Of course, the root cause of this perfect storm is fluctuating levels of oestrogen in particular, but by implementing stress reduction techniques such as meditation and relaxation exercises some symptoms can be alleviated. Self-care and engaging in activities that bring you joy can also contribute to stress reduction.

Sleep Improvement

Menopausal symptoms can often disrupt sleep patterns, making it challenging to get a good night's rest - from hot flushes and night sweats to having to get up to pee every few hours - our sleep is often significantly affected.

Sleep is a complex science but we can attempt to hack our sleep cycle with some simple techniques. There are lots of good apps out there to help but try and establish a regular sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, limit caffeine intake, and avoid screens before bedtime. Engaging in relaxation techniques or listening to soothing music can also promote better sleep.

Movement

Movement can be helpful to support our bones, muscles and joints in the menopausal transition. It can also help boost our mood. Incorporating strength training into your routine can help maintain muscle mass and strength.

Menopause Support Groups

Menopause can often be an emotionally challenging time with changes happening at a point in your life where you are busy and juggling many things. Finding or setting up a menopause support group also known as a menopause cafe will allow you to connect, share experiences, and seek guidance from peers.

Menopause and Weight Management

During menopause weight management can be tricky and it is something I am often asked about. The fluctuations in hormone levels can make us feel worse, leading us to move less, eat less well and ultimately gain weight. Our metabolism also changes at this time and so we often gain weight more easily. 

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a great basis but I don’t want anyone to forget that  eating well and nourishing our body is also about enjoying our food. Good fats and good proteins are key (olive oil, avocados, eggs, oily fish….) and will keep you fuller for longer, whilst supporting your long term health. There are lots of helpful recipes within the Gregg Wallace Health website. 

Movement

Menopause is a time of change and the exercise we might have done in our 20’s and 30’s might not serve us well during this transition. HIT training can also predispose us to injuries so it is important that if you are undertaking any new exercise regime, you do this with the help of a professional who understands this stage of life.

Strength training exercises, such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises, two or more days per week can maintain muscle mass and increase calorie expenditure along with supporting our bones and muscles. 

Yoga

Practising yoga is also self care. It combines movement, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques, promoting a holistic approach to health. Yoga can help improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, reduce stress levels, and boost metabolism. 

Conclusion

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman's life that can bring various symptoms and challenges. By adopting a healthy and balanced diet, incorporating key foods for symptom relief, making lifestyle changes women can manage menopause symptoms and support their overall well-being.

Your healthcare practitioner should be able to provide you with holistic advice about how to manage your symptoms and protect your long term health. This should involve a whole person approach and will be more than just medications. 

Nourishing your body is key. Moving your body is vital. Self care is a must (even for just 5 mins a day). 

By making lifestyle changes, such as practising stress reduction techniques, improving sleep habits, engaging in physical activity, and adopting mindful eating habits, women can further manage menopause symptoms and support their well-being.

FAQ

What is menopause and how does it impact the body?

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman's mid-40s when estrogen levels decline. The hormone fluctuations can lead to numerous symptoms. 

What role does diet play in managing menopause symptoms?

A healthy eating pattern, like the Mediterranean diet, can be beneficial during menopause. This plant-based diet emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, yoghurt, legumes, and healthy fats to support hormonal balance and overall wellness.

What are some key foods for menopause symptom relief and wellness?

Including fatty fish, yoghurt with active cultures, beans, soyfoods, nuts, and calcium-rich foods like dairy products in your diet can provide relief from symptoms and support bone health.

What lifestyle changes can help manage menopause symptoms?

Engaging in stress reduction techniques, improving sleep hygiene, practising regular physical activity, and nourishing your body will help support you and your long term health. 

How can weight management be addressed during menopause?

A balanced diet including low-glycemic foods, regular movement and resistance training, and seeking guidance from your healthcare practitioner will be helpful here. There are menopause support groups online and around the country which can also provide a safe and supportive space to discuss your worries and concerns.  

What is the importance of menopause symptom management?

By making appropriate nutrition and lifestyle choices, this is one way that we can take control of our health and support our menopause symptoms. This will enhance our overall well-being during this natural transition as well as protect long term health. 

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