The “M” word… terrorizing for some, a natural life-progression for others. And perhaps particularly on your mind if you’re a female approaching the tender age of 50. What am I referring to?
Why, Menopause, of course! Whether you’re starting to feel the first pangs of hot flashes or are simply interested in preparing yourself for a smooth transition, this article is for you.
Read on to find out more about the foods to favor and the ones to watch out for when aiming to optimize your diet for menopause.
Let’s Talk Hormones
Before we dive straight into the foods to have on hand and those to keep at an arm’s length, let’s first quickly recap what menopause entails. This will be helpful in understanding why the foods listed below are so important.
Menopause starts when a woman’s ovaries begin running out of eggs. As a reference point, this typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but, since the total amount of eggs each woman is born with can vary, so can the age at which each reaches menopause.
Running out of eggs cause the ovaries to decrease their production of two important reproductive hormones; estrogen and progesterone. It’s this drop that causes most of the changes (and new challenges) associated with menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, bone loss, sleep disturbances and / or mood changes!
Hormone therapy is one way to reduce the symptoms and, while it can be effective, it also raises risks of medical conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer, especially if you wait for several years beyond menopause to begin it. Another way to reduce symptoms is through a healthy diet, which, although always important, is particularly so during life-stage.
Certain foods will not only help provide relief of the less than eagerly awaited symptoms described above, but can also ensure your health remains in top-shape, so you can enjoy the many years to come.
Since not all women experience the same symptoms, this article is organized in sections. Read them all or simply scroll through the list below to find yours. Each section will give you some tips on which foods to favor and which to stay away from to get the best benefits. Happy reading!
As some of you may have noticed, thanks to menopause, mood swings may not only seem worse, but also more difficult to handle. What’s more, many post-menopausal women also report increased feelings of depression and anxiety.
Luckily, several foods can help you deal with such these pesky negatives!
The first set all have one nutrient in common; tryptophan. This little amino acid plays an big role in the manufacturing of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood, sleep and appetite. Getting your fill will likely result in a happier disposition as well as better sleep and perhaps even a slimmer waist. Tryptophan is easily found in foods such as turkey, seafood, spinach, cottage cheese, turnips, oats, legumes and pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds.
The second contain omega-3 fatty acids. Well-known for their positive effects on heart health, omega-3s may also positively impact levels of serotonin. To achieve an optimal intake, favor foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, canola oil and nuts.
A third nutrient that may help ward off feelings of depression is none other than vitamin D. Although no research to date has effectively identified a low vitamin D intake as a cause of depression, research does point to a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depression.
And, given vitamin D’s many positive effects (including those you’ll find listed in the bone health section), ensuring you consume sufficient amounts is, at the very least, unlikely to hurt!
Annoying at the very least and full-fledged sleep-disturbing and cumbersome at the most; hot flashes are one symptom many post-menopausal women have to deal with!
To minimize their occurrence, try staying clear of high-fat, high-sugar diets, spicy foods, excessively hot drinks or caffeine, as each of these items can act as triggers.
As for foods to favor, you might want to consider adding soy products to your diet. Why? Research currently supposes that a high intake of soy isoflavones (which can be found in all soy products) are part of the reason why Japanese women experience much less hot flashes than Westerners.
The amount of isoflavones needed for relief seems to be about 50 mg, which can be easily provided by two servings of soy foods per day. Examples of one serving include 1/2 cup of tofu, tempeh, edamame, cooked soybeans or 1 cup of soy milk.
Although crow’s feet and laugh lines are a normal part of the aging process, the declining estrogen levels associated with menopause can accelerate said process, bringing on unwanted extras such as dry and scaly skin.
This might come as no surprise, but filling up on antioxidant-rich plant foods can help minimize the toll aging takes on your skin. That’s because the more antioxidants you consume, the stronger of an army you create when it comes to fighting off cell-aging oxidative damage.
Three particularly useful antioxidants are zinc and vitamins A & C.
– Vitamin C rich foods include bell-peppers, kale, kiwis, broccoli, berries and citrus fruit .
– The best sources of zinc include seafood, meat, seeds, beans and lentils.
– Vitamin A can be found in orange-colored vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash as well as in leafy greens.
Again, you might want to give boosting your soy isoflavone intake a try. A study conducted in middle-aged women found that those who consumed 40mg of isoflavones (about the amount in 1 1/2 servings of soy foods) every day, for 12 weeks, experienced improved skin elasticity and a decline in small wrinkles.
Finally, drinking up can help maintain the moisture of your skin, offsetting dryness. What’s more, getting your 8 glasses per day can also help decrease some of the bloating that sometimes occurs with hormonal changes. If you’re not a fan of bland water, you’ll be glad to read that soups, herbal teas and frozen-fruit or mint-flavored water are just as effective!
You may also like: