Menopause is a natural phase in every woman’s life. Menopause marks the end of menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.
Menopause is a huge transition in a woman’s life. Now that finally, Aunt Flo has stopped knocking at your door every month, it may seem like a big relief. But for many women, the transition is not so smooth. Menopause brings along a lot of changes in your body.
These changes may be physical, mental, and emotional. A healthy diet and lifestyle will pave the way for an easier transition to menopause, as well as ease the complications during menopause.
Table of Contents:
What is Menopause?
- Menopause is a natural and biological occurrence in a woman’s body. It is the time when your periods stop and you are no longer a fertile woman.
- Menopause typically occurs in women aged between 40-50. The average age, when a woman reaches menopause in India, is 46 years.
- A woman is diagnosed with menopause after a year without menses or periods.
- During menopause, hormonal changes play havoc on your body. Symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, anxiety, and sleep disruption may drain your energy levels and also affect you emotionally.
- The treatments available to treat symptoms of menopause are hormone therapy and lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms of Menopause may vary from one woman to another.
- 1. Vaginal dryness
- 2. Hot flashes
- 3. Night sweats
- 4. Chills
- 5. Disturbed sleep
- 6. Urinary incontinence
- 7. Mood changes
- 8. Slowed metabolism
- 9. Weight gain
- 10. Hair-thinning
- 11. Dry skin
- 12. Loss of breast fullness
10 Best Foods to Eat During Menopause
A well-balanced diet with nutrient-rich foods will keep you healthy. It will also help to fight those unwanted symptoms of menopause.
Remember, there is no single food/ superfood to ease symptoms of menopause. It is best to follow a diet-plan customized as per your body weight and requirement. A trained nutritionist or a dietician can chalk out an easy menopause-diet for you.
Here is a list of the 10 best foods to eat during menopause. These foods are packed with nutrition and can be included as a part of your diet for the best results.
- Nuts contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that is very helpful in controlling anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and depression. Magnesium is also considered important for healthy bones
- Nuts are also a rich source of protein, omega-3 fats, calcium, and zinc which also eases the symptoms of menopause
- Few tips to make them a part of your diet:
- Have a handful of nuts as a snack
- Add them to yogurt or oats porridge
- You can also add unsweetened nut butters like almond and peanut butter in smoothies or on toast
- Almond milk is another option
- Since nuts are considered to be high in calories, we advise you to limit them to a handful every day
- This sweet, nourishing fruit is high in fiber, antioxidants, and disease-fighting nutrients
- Berries are known to improve brain health and also help in managing stress in menopausal women
- You can add them to yogurt, cereals, and smoothies. You can also have it as your mid-meal snack
- Dr. Jinde, an Ayurvedic expert, recommends fruits like berries, apples, and dates to pacify and re-balance the body during menopause
#3 Leafy green vegetables
- Dark green leafy greens are rich in calcium, which are needed to maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis common during menopause. They are also rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and ease symptoms
- Include leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard greens, methi, etc. in your daily cooking
- How to add them to your diet:
- Include them with salads, or saute them in little olive oil
- Eat curries or dal cooked with green vegetables
- Add them to soups and smoothies
#4 Whole grains
- Whole grains contain Vitamin B, minerals, nutrients, and fiber
- They are very effective in regulating energy levels and improving the body’s metabolism
- They are known to reduce cholesterol levels in your body
- How to make whole-grains a regular part of your diet:
- Check for ingredients on labels like 100% whole wheat flour, whole grain atta/ whole grain flour when you shop for atta, bread, and buns
- Include whole grains like jowar, bajra, ragi, barley, amaranth, buckwheat (kuttu), and broken wheat in your cooking
- You can have a bowl of oatmeal/ oats upma in your breakfast
- Turmeric, the golden yellow spice also known as ‘Indian saffron’, is a wonder spice in many ways
- Turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, is the best anti-inflammatory ingredient available in your kitchen
- It is already used in Indian food a lot. For the best benefits of turmeric, you can drink ‘golden milk’ every night
- How to prepare golden milk:
Serving: 1 cup or 240 ml.
- Bring to boil 1 cup of skimmed or low-fat milk. Let it cool a bit
- To the semi-hot milk, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- Add a pinch of black pepper powder. Stir it well
- For added flavor, you can also add 1/2 tsp of jaggery and a pinch of cardamom powder
- Most women have a lot of inflammation, and it can be worse during menopause. To control inflammation and also boost your vitamin levels, you can use a supplement of 1000mg a day that combines turmeric with pepper
- Many health experts vouch for the benefits of a combination of turmeric and black pepper. The piperine in black pepper helps your body absorb more curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric
- Few tips to include the turmeric-pepper combination in your diet are:
- You can add some pepper and turmeric to scrambled eggs, soups, or sprinkle it on sauteed vegetables and salads
- You can also add it to cooked rice for that extra flavor
- Broccoli boosts estrogen levels
- Rich in calcium, it is beneficial for osteoporosis too, as it maintains bone density
- Broccoli also takes care of the bloating issues, a common symptom in menopause. This is because of the high fiber content in Broccoli
- Every woman should aim for at least 5 servings in a week
- Other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprout can also be included in the diet
- Women with menopause are often seen as deficient in iron and vitamin D
- Eggs are a good source of Vitamin D, iron, and proteins
- They also help lower the cholesterol levels in the blood and help prevent weight gain common in menopause
#8 Dairy products
- Dairy products are rich in calcium, which maintains bone density
- Dairy products are also rich in vitamin D, and protein and can help improve sleep quality
- Yogurt or curd, rich in probiotics, provide a nice gut health boost for better digestion, immunity, and skin
- To get your daily dose of healthy bacteria, eat 1 serving of yogurt daily
- A study has shown that 40 grams of flaxseeds are equivalent to the hormone therapy prescribed by doctors during menopause
- Flax seeds are useful in preventing heart diseases in post-menopausal women
- They also regulate estrogen levels in the body
- They are known to help with symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings
- How to eat flax seeds:
- You can add sprinkled powdered and ground flaxseed over your breakfast cereal
- You can add it to your flour batters
- Add it to smoothies
- Soy contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens (phyto+estrogens) reduce symptoms of menopause and improve bone health
- Breast Cancer Prevention Partners has listed the efficacy of soy in breast cancer prevention, and the risk of recurrence
- You can have tofu and soy-based dairy alternatives occasionally
Menopause is just another phase in your life and not a disease. Consider it a new beginning.
Drink a lot of water. Aim to have at least 8 glasses of water a day. Avoid foods like caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol, which worsen few symptoms like hot flashes and also dehydrate your body.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight. Regular walking should be a part of your daily schedule. You can join an online fitness program, where a certified fitness instructor can help you with a fitness regime from the comfort of your home.
A diet rich in iron, calcium, fiber, plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nuts should be an essential part of your diet schedule. A certified nutritionist or dietitian can help you determine an ideal diet- plan as per your body weight and requirement.
And yes! Don’t forget to keep yourself happy and seek support in need.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the best diet advice to follow during menopause?
A. Eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Make sure to include calcium and iron-rich foods in your diet. Also, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Don’t skip meals. Have small portions every few hours a day.
Q. What should I eat to lose belly fat during menopause?
A. You need to make dietary changes to lose weight, along with regular exercises. Keep an eye on your portion sizes. Eat foods high in fiber and proteins. Substitute complex carbs with simple carbs. Eat whole-foods like whole grains. Include a lot of fruits and vegetables. Add healthy fats to your diet and drink lots of water.
Q. What foods should I avoid during menopause?
A. Foods that aggravate symptoms of menopause are caffeine, alcohol, added sugars, salty foods, processed food, spicy food and, high-fat foods