Menopause can be a challenging time. As with puberty, the body is forced to go through many changes — not all of them pleasant. Eating the right diet can help mitigate some symptoms of menopause. Including these foods in your regular eating plan can help you maintain your weight and enjoy optimal health while undergoing these changes.
1. Lean Dairy
When hormone levels take a sharp downturn, bone density often follows. Preventing osteoporosis and osteopenia can be as simple as adding more weight-bearing exercises to your daily activities, and upping your consumption of foods high in calcium. Menopausal women should shoot for about 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. Lean dairy, like milk and yogurt, can help meet this goal.
2. Lentils, beans, and other fiber-rich foods
Menopause can bring some unwelcome digestive issues along for the ride, including constipation and bloating. Fiber helps ease bloating and prevents irregularity, so be sure to get enough legumes, vegetables, and fruits. The average American typically consumes only about 15 grams of fiber per day, but experts say we should shoot for roughly twice that.
3. Fatty fish
Mood swings, anxiety, and depression are a part of menopause for many. Healthy fats are a vital part of maintaining optimal neurological function, but eating the right balance can be tricky. Shoot for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, as well as plant sources like avocado, borage, and flaxseed.
Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin,” but living in the northern hemisphere, wearing sunscreen, and working a 9-5 job can all hamper the ability to get enough. Since vitamin D works in tandem with calcium to protect bones, this is bad news for people with bone density concerns. Salmon is a good source of vitamin D3, as are sardines. If seafood isn’t on your menu, try upping your intake of mushrooms — they can provide vitamin D2.
Night sweats, bloating and dryness are no picnic. The best weapon against these menopause symptoms: Plain water. Try to drink at least eight glasses per day (roughly 64 ounces). If you have trouble drinking plain water, try infusing your water with fresh fruit or herbs. Lemon, orange, berries, mint, or lemon balm make for a delicious, low-sugar, low-calorie beverage.
B vitamins can help regulate menopause-related mood problems. Poultry is a source of B-12 and B-6, as well as protein. If you choose breast meat, you can get the benefits without extra saturated fat.
7. Lean meat
Hormonal fluctuations can cause some shifts in blood sugar, but eating foods high in protein can help keep things stable. Protein is also important for maintaining lean muscle mass, and carry additional benefits like B vitamins or fiber. Not an omnivore? Choose minimally processed plant-based protein instead, like nuts and beans.
8. Colorful produce
Menopause signals the end of some of the protective benefits of hormones, increasing the risk of problems like heart disease. The risk of cancer also increases with age, so, while menopause doesn’t increase cancer risk on its own, it can still herald a time when it pays to be more careful. Antioxidant-rich foods may help lower inflammation and protect cells from free radical damage, protecting the heart and other vital organs. They can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables — try blackberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and dark, leafy greens.
Menopause means an end to the cramping and inconvenience of menstruation, but it can come with its own problems. Following a good diet and increasing your intake of a couple key foods can help smooth the transition for you, ensuring optimal health as you experience this change.