During menopause, a woman’s body undergoes a series of obvious physiological changes, caused by the lack of estrogens. These hormonal modifications cause varied symptoms, as well as changes in body composition.
Varying your diet can lead to positive changes in your health during and after the menopause process. For this reason, we’re going to offer you a series of menopause diet tips that could prove helpful.
The menopause diet: What you should know
When a woman reaches the stage of menopause, she’ll start suffering from various symptoms, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
Also, this stage is associated with significant body composition changes due to the lack of estrogens. According to a study published in the journal JCI Insight, there’s a decrease in lean mass and an increase in abdominal fat. The reduction in lean mass leads to a reduction in energy needs, which sometimes translates into weight gain (of about one to two pounds).
Another significant physiological problem that can affect nutrition and can manifest itself at this stage is bone decalcification, with loss of bone mass and the appearance of osteoporosis. In women, bone decalcification usually begins immediately after menopause and increases the risk of fractures.
The onset of menopause and results in increased arteriosclerosis, with the subsequent high risk of suffering from other diseases, such as:
Therefore, it’s clear that women should watch what they eat during this stage. Women can prevent some of the nutritional disorders that occur in menopause if they eat a balanced diet throughout their life.
The menopause diet
You must make sure to eat healthy if you entered menopause and have no metabolic complications or associated diseases. It’s important to pay attention to your calorie intake.
Each woman has to adapt the number of calories she eats to her needs. In this regard, and according to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee, after the age of 40, energy needs decrease by 5% every decade. Most women don’t take this fact into account, which could result in weight gain that could eventually result in obesity.
Dietary preferences change during menopause. There’s an increase in fat intake and a decrease in satiating nutrient intake, such as protein and fiber.
You have to be very careful with the origin of the fats you eat, preferring vegetable fats over animal fats. Women who entered menopause need to consume more polyunsaturated fatty acids, present in fish, as they help control cardiovascular health.
Vitamins and minerals
You must pay special attention to calcium and magnesium, as they play a role in the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Also, vitamin D is necessary for phosphocalcic metabolism.
The importance of soy in the menopause diet
Soy is an important ingredient in Asian countries. Experts have seen that women in these countries have less intense menopausal symptoms than Western women. An article published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases explains it. This food is also able to reduce cardiovascular risk in these women.
This is because soy is high in phytoestrogens. These are plant substances, with a structure similar to estrogens. The most common are isoflavones, such as genistein and daidzein.
Also, the fatty acids in soy have beneficial effects on lipid disorders. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, soy protein consumption is linked to breast and colon cancer prevention.
As you’ve seen, it’s very important to follow a proper diet to reduce your symptoms, improve your body composition, and prevent certain diseases that are associated with this stage of life. Therefore, you should:
- Eat plant-based foods due to their phytoestrogen (soy isoflavones) content, as well as the soluble fiber (especially in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and oats) they contain, which helps lower cholesterol.
- Eat more dairy products, oily fish, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts to ensure you get enough calcium and vitamin D.
- Prioritize plant-based foods over animal-based foods and reduce your consumption of animal fats.
Improve your diet to reduce the symptoms of menopause
It’s essential for you to start taking care of yourself before starting menopause to reduce your symptoms and control your weight.
Also, don’t forget to exercise, as this reduces muscle loss, increases caloric expenditure, and strengthens bones.