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The Menopause-friendly Foods | CrunchyTales

Eat Right, Feel Great: The Best Foods to Manage Menopause Symptoms

5 min read

Menopause. The very word can conjure up hot flashes, night sweats, and a general feeling of, well, being a little out of sorts. But what if you could tackle these symptoms with something as delicious as food?

Turns out, you can! While there’s no magic bullet, a strategic diet packed with the right nutrients can be a game-changer in managing menopause.

The menopause-friendly foods

Incorporating dairy products, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, foods high in phytoestrogens, and quality protein sources into your daily plan may help relieve some symptoms.

Take notes of the following dietary changes to improve your overall well-being and change the way you experience menopause.

  • Plants

A plant-based diet is one of your best allies during menopause. Not only it’s nutrient-dense, but also filling and this is a big plus for weight management, which is crucial as metabolism tends to slow down as we age.

Anti-inflammatory and full of fibres (something most women don’t eat enough of), plants help to stabilise blood sugar levels which can help reduce hot flashes and lower bad cholesterolEating more fibre can also lengthen your life helping to feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract so they thrive both in total numbers and diversity.

Challenge yourself to consume 20-30 different fruits and vegetables a week by filling your shopping cart with the most colourful produce, visiting a farmer’s market, planting some vegetables, or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

Also, incorporate whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat into your daily menu, go meatless and opt for legumes, nuts, seeds, grains (quinoa and amaranth are high in protein), soy products (tofu, soy protein powder, tempeh), seitan, nutritional yeast, and spirulina.

  • Probiotics

Like prebiotics, probiotics, the beneficial bacteria found in certain foods and supplements, can help reduce menopausal symptoms. As they increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, they can alleviate some hormonal imbalances and help you weather the storm.

Research suggests that certain strains of probiotics may also help you lose weight, others (like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium), have also been shown to improve calcium absorption and bone density, potentially reducing the risk of osteoporosis. 

Amongst the foods you may want to include in your diet are yoghurt and Kefir (these fermented dairy products are rich in beneficial bacteria), kimchi, miso, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas.

  • Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds like the estrogen that your body naturally produces and can potentially ease menopausal symptoms.

A study published by the North American Menopause Society found that a plant-based diet rich in soy foods reduced moderate to severe hot flashes by 88%. In addition, it found that the same regimen helped women lose an average of eight pounds in 12 weeks.

So, fill your grocery bag with soy products (like tofu, tempeh, edamame, flax seeds, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and beans), and sesame seeds.

  • Proteins

One of the biggest nutritional mistakes I see women make after the age of 50 is not eating enough protein. In midlife, protein needs to go from 8 grams per kilogram of body weight to 1 to 1.2 kilograms per pound of body weight to support the health of bone, skin, and hair. Some researchers feel that 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kg per day is ideal for optimal health.

This is because as estrogen decreases women tend to lose muscle mass. Eating enough dietary protein especially when combined with strength training can help maintain muscle mass. There’s a lot to love about your muscle mass from raising your metabolism so you burn more calories to enabling you to hoist your luggage into the overhead compartment like a boss.

To get adequate protein aim for 20-25 grams of protein at each meal and 10-15 at each snack. Have eggs, a smoothie with protein powder or Greek yoghurt for breakfast, animal protein such as chicken, lean beef, or fish for lunch or dinner. If you feel peckish during the day, opt for a low-fat cheese or yoghurt, turkey jerky, a tablespoon of peanut butter on an apple, trail mix, sliced turkey breast as a wrap for veggies, a hard-boiled egg, or a handful of dried edamame.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and are crucial for hormone production and overall health. They have been found to alleviate night sweats and may help with mood swings and depression as well as reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. They also lower your risk of heart disease, which increases after menopause.

You can find good sources of omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish (especially cold-water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia and walnuts).

  • Water

Hydration is essential for managing menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes and bloating. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It helps regulate body temperature and keeps your skin hydrated. Herbal teas such as chamomile can also help you relax and improve sleep.

  • Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D

Bone health becomes increasingly important during menopause due to the decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to osteoporosis. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D all work in conjunction to maintain bone density and strength. After age 50 calcium requirements increase from 1000 mg per day to 1200 mg per day.

Magnesium is key to neurotransmitter function and can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are common in menopause. Magnesium can also help you relax and improve sleep quality which can be disrupted during menopause due to hormonal changes and night sweats.

On the other hand, vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of dietary calcium as it supports bone remodelling, which is the replacement of old bone tissue with new one.

To get the most out of them, make sure to include in your diet some dairy products, leafy greens, fortified foods, dark chocolate, avocado, nuts, seeds and plenty of sun (Just be sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin).

Of course, you don’t need to overhaul your entire diet overnight. Make small, sustainable changes each week and stock your pantry with menopause-friendly foods. Remember, everyone experiences menopause differently so it’s essential to find what works best for you.

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About The Author

Dr Ellen Albertson | The Midlife Whisperer

Dr Ellen Albertson | The Midlife Whisperer

Dr Ellen is a psychologist, registered dietitian, board-certified health and wellness coach, podcast host, Reiki master, and self-compassion teacher. Known as The Midlife Whisperer™, she helps women have the energy, confidence, and clarity to make their next chapter their best chapter. A bestselling, award-winning author, and inspirational speaker, Dr. Ellen is an expert on women’s well-being and sits on the medical board of The National Menopause Foundation. Dr Ellen has appeared on Extra, the Food Network and NBC World News and has been quoted in Psychology Today, Forbes, and Eating Well. She has written for SELF, Better Homes & Gardens and Good Housekeeping. Her latest book is Rock Your Midlife: 7 Steps to Transform Yourself and Make Your Next Chapter Your Best Chapter! She brings over 30 years of counselling, coaching, and healing experience to her holistic practice and transformational work. She lives on the Champlain Islands of Vermont with her high-tech, raw-food-loving partner Ken and her tree-climbing Border Collie Rosie. Want to know how to revitalize your life after 50? Take Dr. Ellen‘s Midlife Wellbeing Quiz HERE!

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