6 Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Menopause
Nutrition and lifestyle can play an important role during menopause by supporting bone, heart and mental health, plus weight maintenance / loss and promoting overall health. Women today spend about one third of their lives in, around and after menopause. This transition can cause significant health issues and may affect her relationships and career.
In order to support some of the impacts of falling oestrogen on bone health, mental health and cardiovascular health, nutritional therapy can be used in conjunction with a strategic lifestyle approach – whether conventional HRT is used or not.
In this blog post Sarah gives some tips on some of the approaches she finds effective within her ‘Healthy Menopause’ programmes.
1) Mood and sleep regulation
Menopause can disrupt sleep patterns and affect mood. A nutritious diet, including foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may support brain health and improve sleep quality. Omega 3 consumption may also reduce the painful joints associated with menopause, as well as providing some protection from anxiety caused by inflammation. Oily fish include: salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring, kippers, mackerel, trout (not tuna). Also enjoy chia, hemp, flax seeds and walnuts.
Refined carbohydrates that could otherwise result in sugar crashes, tiredness, irritability, and weight gain should be reduced. Refined carbs include those from white rice, white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and crisps.
2) Managing hot flushes
Alcohol, caffeine, and certain spicy foods can all cause hot flushes. It may be possible to reduce the frequency and severity of uncomfortable flushes by avoiding these triggers, by choosing cooling foods such as leafy green vegetables and salads, switching to herbs to flavour meals, and selecting teas with less caffeine and / or herbal flavours.
3) Hormonal balance
While nutrition alone does not claim to replace medical interventions, consuming a balanced diet with adequate nutrients can support hormone production and balance. Consuming more phyto-oestrogenic (also known as plant oestrogens) may be helpful. These weakly oestrogenic foods and may result in fewer hot flushes, less vaginal dryness and potentially even stimulate bone growth. You can include these whether or not you take HRT. For example:
alfalfa sprouts, apples, beans, cabbage, celery, chickpeas, dark berries, edamame beans, fennel, flaxseeds (aka linseeds – not flax oil), kidney beans, lentils, miso soup, mung beans, nuts, parsley, rhubarb, soya isoflavones in tofu and unsweetened soy milk.
4) Bone health
Oestrogen decline during menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis and staggeringly, 1 in 2 women will develop this condition in their lifetime! Ensuring adequate Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Magnesium intake, along with weight-bearing exercise, muscle strengthening and agility exercise – can all support bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.
4) Heart health
Menopause is associated with an increased risk of heart disease including higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol. A diet rich in vegetables, some whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help lower cholesterol levels and maintain heart health. When oestrogen falls after menopause, the cholesterol in our blood rises, and the protective effects of oestrogen are lost and blood pressure can rise. The culprits can include excess salt and caffeine, so watch out for these. Another thing we may do better with less of is STRESS. Stress interferes with the production of female hormones and increases the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease & diabetes!
6) Managing weight
Menopause can lead to weight gain. Sarah’s nutrition programme balances the need for hormonal support alongside assistance to maintain a healthy weight or aid weight loss, where required. This is especially important when you consider that xeno-oestrogens (so-called ‘foreign’ oestrogens) are stored in our fat cells. Xeno-oestrogens are hormone disrupting chemicals from the pesticide and plastic industries which have been shown to increase breast cancer risk and upset our delicate hormone balance. We will discuss reducing plastics use in the home and around the storage of food – and fatty food, in particular.
Sarah’s Healthy Menopause Programme
If this all sounds good, but overwhelming and you would like some support to put it all together, Sarah can tailor a safe and nutritious Healthy Menopause programme especially for you to your specific goals and needs. This is a whole-body approach, a lifestyle change: time to put yourself first and includes maintaining an active lifestyle to include weight bearing exercise in particular to strengthen bones.
This is a 6-month package and consists of an initial 90-minute introductory consultation, (normally £115) and 5 follow up 60 min sessions (normally £70 x 5) and includes between-session email support. For additional hand-holding we may break these 60m sessions into smaller chunks. Diet analysis, supplement-medication interaction checks, recipes and assistance with meal planning is included. All supplements are available to purchase separately and are not an essential part of the programme. Sessions are online or in person. Results vary. Price £399, saving £66 with an up-front payment. Sessions must be taken no later than 9 months from session 1.