Menopause Diet Plan - Essential Areas to Consider & What to AvoidMenopause Diet Plan - Essential Areas to Consider & What to AvoidMenopause Diet Plan - Essential Areas to Consider & What to Avoid

Menopause Diet Plan - Essential Areas to Consider & What to Avoid

Menopause Diet Plan - Essential Areas to Consider & What to Avoid

Menopause impacts all women, normally between the ages of 45 and 55. It is defined as the period where the regular menstrual cycle stops.

Unfortunately this transitional period is often associated with some uncomfortable symptoms that can make life a little challenging and less enjoyable.

In the following article we will share some of the scientifically sounds, fundamental diet alterations that you can make to help make menopause more manageable.

Key Changes During Menopause

Menopause is marked by a series of significant changes in a woman's body, primarily driven by hormonal fluctuations that impact physical, mental, and emotional health.

Hormonal Changes and Their Effects on the Body

The most significant change that occurs during the menopause is a significant drop in circulating estrogen. This hormonal alteration is responsible for a shift in metabolism and can result in weight and fat gain, alongside changes in fat distribution. In a survey conducted in 1993, 50% of European women reported gaining at least 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs) during menopause, with US women also reporting significant increases in body fat reported during the menopause.

Fluctuating hormones also cause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood and sleep disturbances, unstable energy levels, each of which can impact quality of life and daily frustrations. Falling estrogen can also have detrimental effects on bone health, muscle mass, skin and cardiovascular health.

Core Components of a Menopause Diet that you need to take care of

When building a menopause diet, it's essential to focus on specific nutritional components that address the unique needs of the body during this transitional phase. A well-considered diet can significantly mitigate the symptoms of menopause and enhance overall health. Here are the key dietary components that need special attention:

Increase or maintain metabolic rate

Adjust the quantity of food you are consuming and also the types of food on your plate. A greater emphasis should be placed on low energy density, such as vegetables, fruits, soups and salads, low fat protein sources (chicken, prawns, fish etc.) and low fat dairy and higher fiber foods.

Adding more protein to your meals and overall daily diet can help increase the amount of calories you burn between 0.8 - 22%. Protein is also the most filling macronutrient, so it can prevent cravings that crush almost all diets. Incorporating eggs or low fat dairy at breakfast, lean meats, fish or seafood with lunch and dinner, snacking on beef jerky, low fat Greek yogurt, protein smoothies or shakes in the evening will be incredibly beneficial.

Becoming more active in your daily life is also important. A simple 30-minute walk combined with taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, gardening etc. can easily increase energy expenditure by 350 kcal per day.

Support strong bones

Bones need load, so to increase activity throughout the day, walking, taking the stairs and exercising are a great starting point. Beyond this you must also consider total energy intake, protein, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K. Very low calorie diets (crash diets) are disastrous for bone.

Including calcium and protein rich foods such as low fat Greek yogurt and milk, or fortified soya milk will certainly help bone mineral density. It is often tempting to remove dairy products when dieting, but this is not such a great idea when nearing or going through the menopause. Research has shown that dairy can delay the onset of menopausal symptoms and improve sleep quality.

Supplementing with vitamin D during winter months particularly, is also a very good idea. Not only for bone, but your immune system, mood, muscle and more.

Maintain muscle mass

Much like bones, muscles also needs load. So a newfound active lifestyle combined with regular resistance exercise will be of greater benefit. Resistance training undoubtedly improves quality of life, functional strength and mental wellbeing as you age.

Increasing protein intake will most certainly support maintenance of muscle mass too. As we age, our muscles become less responsive to the signals of protein and amino acids that normally stimulate muscle growth and repair processes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326689/), making it more difficult to maintain muscle and thus we become frail.

Incorporating more protein-rich foods into your diet, at all meals and snacks will most definitely help in maintaining muscle mass, with research demonstrating that a 60% increase in daily protein intake combined with some form of resistance training can help build lean muscle mass.

Building muscle will actually be the best thing that you can do for your long-term health and to offset many of the menopausal symptoms you want rid of, particularly those vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations and changing blood pressure. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active, it’s a calorie consuming monster. Increase your protein intake and lose weight, simple as that.

Beyond helping with weight loss here is a short list of things that can be prevented or improved through increased muscle mass:

Improvements due to an Increase in muscle mass:

  • Reduced risk of sarcopenia, frailty, falls and fractures
  • Reduced risk of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved skin strength, joint health and organ function.

Boost collagen production

Declining levels of the hormone estrogen during the menopause significantly impact the body’s production of collagen. Research has shown that estrogen deficient women experience a 1.13% reduction in skin thickness and 2% reduction in collagen content in the skin per post-menopausal year. Skin collagen content can drop by as much as 30% in the first five years after menopause. These alterations result in significantly reduced skin strength and structure, fine lines and wrinkles, and aging skin.

Supplements to Enhance Menopause Diet Efficacy

Consistent supplementation with a high quality hydrolyzed collagen peptide at a dose of 2.5 - 5 grams per day significantly improved skin elasticity in a group of 45 - 65 year old women as a result of increased production of procollagen type 1 and elastin production through supplement ingestion. Post-menopausal women in the UK consumed a drink containing hydrolyzed collagen peptides and some other vitamins and experienced visible reductions in wrinkle depth and improvements in subjective skin appearance.

Similarly a review paper) concluded that regular hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplementation at around 10 grams per day has beneficial effects on skin structure and appearance.

Supplementing daily with a high quality, hydrolyzed collagen peptide at a dose around 10 grams per day is recommended.

Phytoestrogens are essentially nutrients that bind to estrogen receptors and mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, they are found naturally in soy, chickpeas, flaxseeds, grapes and more. A review paper from 2014 concluded that women who ate more phytoestrogen-rich foods reduced the frequency of hot flashes, with no serious side effects.

  • A number of other supplements have shown some promise in treating other menopausal symptoms. Ashwagandha, the ancient Ayruvedic herb may reduce hot flashes, improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety during the menopause..
  • Similarly omega-3 supplementation or just a general increase in dietary omega-3 intake from salmon, mackerel and various seeds may improve mental wellbeing and reduce risk of depression.
  • Increasing your intake of antioxidants and dietary polyphenols such as those found naturally in fruits, vegetables and spices such as turmeric and maca root can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and may also help menopausal women reduce hot flash symptoms.

Gut Microbiome and the Changes that menopause brings

The gut microbiome changes during the menopause and these alterations can increase susceptibility to gain weight and body fat, and become resistant to insulin, increasing the risk of diabetes. Supplementation with probiotics has shown beneficial effects on body weight and hormonal balance in menopausal women.

The Role of Probiotics in Menopause Management

Probiotics play a crucial role in menopause management by maintaining and restoring gut health, which can be significantly disrupted during this transitional phase. These beneficial bacteria help balance the gut microbiome, leading to improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and reduced inflammation. By incorporating probiotics into their diet, women experiencing menopause can not only alleviate common gastrointestinal symptoms but also potentially reduce the severity of other menopausal symptoms such as mood swings and hormonal imbalances.

Supporting Immune Function

A significant portion of the immune system is located in the gut. By improving gut health, probiotics indirectly strengthen the immune system, helping to protect the body against infections and diseases that might be more common during the weakened immune state often seen in menopause.

Reducing Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can increase during menopause, contributing to discomfort and health risks such as cardiovascular disease. Probiotics can help reduce systemic inflammation by modulating the gut microbiome and enhancing the intestinal barrier function, which prevents harmful substances from leaking into the bloodstream.

Alleviating Menopausal Symptoms

Probiotics have been shown to have potential benefits in reducing common menopausal symptoms, such as mood swings and poor sleep, due to their role in producing and regulating neurotransmitters and hormones that affect mood and sleep patterns.

What not to do on a Menopause Diet

The aforementioned diet alterations will most definitely help in reducing common symptoms associated with menopause, but we also know that there are a number of diet related risk factors that can ramp up the severity of menopausal symptoms, which are certainly best avoided.

List of foods that you should not take when on Menopause

When managing menopause symptoms, certain foods can exacerbate issues like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Here's a list of foods that are generally recommended to avoid or limit during menopause:

  1. Refined Carbohydrates: Foods such as white bread, pastries, and other highly processed snacks can spike blood sugar levels, potentially worsening symptoms.
  2. Regular Caffeine: Excessive caffeine can disturb sleep patterns and increase feelings of anxiety or irritability, which can be more pronounced during menopause.
  3. Regular Alcohol: Alcohol can trigger hot flashes and disrupt sleep, and it may also contribute to weight gain and affect mood stability.
  4. Spicy and Salty Foods: These can trigger hot flashes and contribute to increased blood pressure and bloating.

Understanding which foods to avoid can be a crucial step in managing menopause effectively. For a comprehensive approach, consider exploring our "10-Day Free Menopause Diet Plan." This plan not only highlights what to avoid but also provides nutritious alternatives to help alleviate menopausal symptoms and promote overall well-being.

Conclusion: Long-term Benefits of a Thoughtful Menopause Diet

Menopause is linked to numerous alterations to metabolic rate, muscle, bone, heart health, mood and more.

Adopting a diet made up of low energy density, high protein, high fiber wholefoods, while also considering supplementation with vitamin D, collagen, whey protein, creatine and probiotics will help.

Enhanced Heart Health

The risk of cardiovascular disease tends to increase after menopause due to changes in hormone levels, particularly the reduction of estrogen, which has a protective effect on the artery walls. A diet rich in heart-healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and avocados, can help reduce cholesterol levels and maintain blood pressure within a healthy range. Integrating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which are high in fiber, also helps manage cholesterol levels and promotes heart health.

Prevention of Osteoporosis

Estrogen plays a crucial role in bone density maintenance. As its levels drop during menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases. Calcium and vitamin D are vital for bone health, and a menopause diet rich in these nutrients can significantly mitigate this risk. Dairy products, fortified plant milks, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-set tofu are excellent sources of calcium, while vitamin D can be boosted through exposure to sunlight and foods like fatty fish and fortified eggs.

Weight Management

Metabolic rates drop during menopause, making weight gain more common. A thoughtful menopause diet focuses on nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods that enhance satiety and help manage body weight. High-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight by keeping you fuller for longer and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

A diet low in saturated fats, high in fiber, and rich in antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, nuts, and green tea, help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are linked to chronic disease development.

Improved Mental Well-being and Cognitive Function

Menopause can affect mental health, leading to mood swings, anxiety, and depression. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants supports brain health and can improve mood and cognitive function. Foods like fatty fish, whole grains, and leafy greens provide these essential nutrients, helping to maintain brain function and emotional health.

Better Digestive Health

As women age, digestive issues may become more prevalent. A fiber-rich diet helps maintain gastrointestinal function and prevents problems such as constipation, which can be common in menopausal women. Probiotics and prebiotics also play a role in maintaining gut health, supporting a healthy microbiome, which is essential for overall health.

By focusing on these key nutritional strategies, a thoughtfully designed menopause diet not only helps manage the symptoms associated with this transitional phase but also promotes long-term health and prevents several age-related diseases.

ReverseHealth has mapped this all out for you. Click here to take the quiz and start your journey with us.

FAQs:

What diet is best for menopause? Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Choose whole grains like bulgur wheat, millet, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole-grain bread. Include a handful of nuts and seeds daily. Eat oily fish like salmon and mackerel twice a week. Opt for lean or plant-based proteins at every meal, and regularly enjoy beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

What is the best way for a menopausal woman to lose weight? Combine regular exercise with a nutrient-dense diet. Focus on high-protein foods, plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Reduce intake of added sugars and processed foods, and maintain consistent portion control.

What food is not recommended during menopause? Avoid refined carbohydrates, excessive caffeine, and regular alcohol consumption. Limit spicy and salty foods, as they can exacerbate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and high blood pressure.

What is the NHS diet for menopause? The NHS recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Incorporate healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, and nuts, and minimize intake of processed foods and high-sugar snacks.

What is the best breakfast for menopause patients? Opt for high-protein breakfasts such as eggs or Greek yogurt with fruit. Include whole grains like oatmeal topped with nuts and seeds, and consider adding vegetables to your morning meal for extra nutrients.

Is 1200 calories enough for a menopausal woman? 1200 calories may be too low for many menopausal women and could lead to nutrient deficiencies. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine an appropriate calorie intake based on individual needs and activity levels.

TAGS:
Health
Diet
Weight Loss