Menopause Nutrition For Women Over 40

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Menopause is a natural biological process and is associated with several physical and emotional changes, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. One aspect of menopause that often goes overlooked is the importance of nutrition during this time. We explore the role of nutrition in menopause with an expert and provide some practical tips for maintaining a healthy diet during this transition.

The Role of Nutrition in Menopause

As women go through menopause, their bodies undergo changes that can affect their nutritional needs. Women tend to lose bone density as they age, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis. They may also experience changes in their metabolism, making it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, menopause is often accompanied by a decline in estrogen levels, leading to various health issues, including heart disease and cognitive decline.

Nutrition can play a key role in mitigating these risks and helping women stay healthy during and after menopause. A balanced diet with fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats can provide the nutrients women need to maintain bone health, support metabolism, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

In particular, there are several key nutrients that women should focus on during menopause:

Calcium: Women tend to lose bone density as they age, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium is vital for building and maintaining strong bones, so women need to consume enough of this nutrient during menopause. Calcium sources include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, cereal, and orange juice.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is key for calcium absorption, so women need to ensure they are getting enough of these nutrients. Unfortunately, many women are deficient in vitamin D, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and other health issues. Vitamin D sources include fatty fish such as salmon, fortified dairy products, and supplements.

Fiber: Consuming plenty of fiber can help support a healthy metabolism by keeping you full and reducing cravings. Good fiber sources include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Protein is essential for muscle mass and supporting a healthy metabolism. Women may lose muscle mass as they age. Good protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and tofu.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for heart health and cognitive function. Omega-3s sources include fatty fish such as salmon, nuts and seeds, and supplements.

In addition to these key nutrients, women should aim to consume various fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and other important nutrients. They should limit their intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and saturated fats.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Diet during Menopause

Maintaining a healthy diet during menopause can be challenging, especially if experiencing symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, or mood swings. Tips for maintaining a healthy diet during menopause include:

  1. Consume enough calcium and vitamin D: Women tend to lose bone density during menopause, which increases the risk of osteoporosis. 
  2. Eat plenty of fiber: As metabolism slows down during menopause, maintaining a healthy weight can become more difficult. Eating plenty of fiber helps keep you full and reduces cravings. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  3. Consume enough protein: Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass and supporting metabolism. Protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and tofu.
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking an adequate water amount is essential for maintaining overall health, especially during menopause when hot flashes and night sweats can lead to dehydration. Shoot for eight glasses of water daily, and consider drinking water before and after meals to help with digestion.
  5. Avoid processed foods: Processed foods can be high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats, increasing the risk of chronic diseases. Instead, opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  6. Practice mindful eating: Paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues helps to eat with intention. This can help you make healthier food choices and avoid overeating. 
  7. Consider supplements: Besides a healthy diet, supplements can help support women’s nutritional needs during menopause. For example, omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help support heart health and cognitive function, while black cohosh supplements can help reduce hot flashes.

Maintaining a healthy diet during menopause is essential for overall health and well-being. Women can support their bodies during this transition by focusing on nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, and practicing mindful eating.

Here we discuss with Helen Ritchie, a nutritionist focused specifically on women 45 plus, to share her thoughts on menopause nutrition.

Menopause Nutrition Plan

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone, and happy Tuesday. Well, we are focusing on 40-plus women. Women go through so much, and when the mid-40s hit, guess what? Another thing is perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Well, the good thing is that we can manage symptoms effectively and adequately through nutrition, and that’s what we’ll talk about today with Helen. Helen is a nutritionist focused specifically on women 45 plus. Welcome. 

Nutritionist Helen: Thank you, Amita. So yes, I want to talk about the holistic approach to menopause which means looking at a woman as a whole, starting with her overall state of health and focusing on her symptoms and what might be causing them. It’s not just focusing on the sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, which are naturally low at this stage of life.

So it regards menopause as an illness that requires medication. It should be recorded as a natural life stage. And for me working with menopausal ladies, it’s much more about your other hormones, not just estrogen. So, for example, insulin, what is your blood sugar doing? So, if you are eating a lot of sugary foods, starchy carbs, very processed foods, your insulin is going to be high, your blood sugar is going to be spiking, and this is driving a lot of menopausal symptoms, hot flushes to start with, weight gain, which, I talk a lot about with, with my clients.

Another one, the other hormone that’s important to get in under control at menopause, is your stress hormone, cortisol. So again, I see this driving hot flushes, brain fog, sleep disruption, again, weight gain. So, it’s about much more than traditionally what you think about at menopause; the doctors are talking about estrogen progesterone. So, you need to be eating lots of whole fresh food, real food, not processed food, but also making sure you’re eating enough protein, healthy fats, getting enough sleep, exercising, they’re all critical at this point at this stage in life. 

How Can Diet Help With Hormone Imbalance?

NourishDoc: Okay. So, do you want to talk about estrogen and progesterone going down when women are at a certain age? There’s much talk about phytoestrogens and plant-based estrogens, and women should focus on certain types of foods because estrogen is decreasing. Do you want to discuss specific foods that can help with the estrogen balance that women can focus on? 

Nutritionist Helen: Yeah, sure. So, phytoestrogens are interesting because they can moderate your hormone levels. So, if they’re too high, they can bring them down a bit; if they’re too low, they can boost them. So, they’re clever, and black seeds are the most potent phytoestrogens. Are you familiar with flax seeds? So, they are the most potent. But other things like soy soya beans, soya beans, and edamame beans.

They’re good as well but a lot. If you’re eating a diet rich in vegetables and some fruit, you’ll get phytoestrogens from many of those. However, flaxseeds are the most common, So they’re the kind of magical foods magical, because of what they can do, but they’re pretty weak, they’re quite weak, even though they’re magical, so definitely to be included, as, as long as you’re not taking much medication. 

Nutrition For Hot Flashes & Brain Fog

NourishDoc: Okay. Flax seeds. So one of the tips for all the women out there is to throw some flax seeds and your cereal in the morning, your smoothie or shake, whatever you want. Then edamame is difficult because you only get it in the frozen section, at least where I live, but that’s another one that women should put some soy or tofu, throw in some tofu, rice, and soya.

Now on hot flushes. You talk a lot about hot flushes on your Insta account. Talk to us a little because the body temperature is going, and women feel the sweat on their faces and all kinds of things. What natural ways can women control their hot flashes and brain fog? 

Nutritionist Helen: Well, so hot flushes, well, one of the things that drive hot flushes is alcohol. So alcohol is a no-no or reducing alcohol levels. So I’ve worked with many ladies that when they’ve reduced the amount of alcohol they’re drinking, their hot flushes have improved. The night sweats, but as I mentioned already, your overall diet, so sugary diets, processed food diets, are not good for hot flushes. I also found stress when I started suffering from hot flushes; in the stressful moment somebody asked me something, you were one of the moments when I would get a hot flush.

So it’s managing stress levels, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep and brain fog, again, eating enough healthy fats. So I know many women are terrified because they think it will make them fat. But as long as you’re eating healthy fats like omega-three oily fish, your brain needs fat; your brain needs these oils. Keeping hydrated. That’s important for brain fog as well. And then the overall diet is also not just one thing; it’s how everything works together. Nutrition, relaxation, sleep, and ensuring you’re getting enough nutrients. 

NourishDoc: Okay, so I want to repeat what you talked about. So, we talked about phytoestrogens found in flax seeds or soya products. Then also, for brain fog, healthy fats like avocado, right? Some of the nuts, some of the nuts, like walnuts and some of the nuts, healthy nuts that we should incorporate as women, and then you talk about fish oil that is very important and then, of course, and reducing the stress is important. Alcohol brings it ten notches down, right?

Yeah, because of the hot flushes, you want something cooling right in the body that’s going on. What else would you like to say to our viewers about diet? You talk about vegetables, heavy in vegetables, fruits. Do you think women should become vegetarian or vegan at that age, or is meat okay? 

Proteins To Stop Cravings

Nutritionist Helen: Yeah, I do have thoughts about it, and I don’t think so because I see many ladies that are not eating enough protein, and it’s essential to eat protein throughout the day, starting at breakfast and at least 20 grams of protein. So the most potent forms of protein are from animal products. So getting the protein levels you need from vegetarian sources is much more challenging. Okay, if you eat eggs and cheese, that’s fine, but vegan is trickier.

So, eating enough protein, if you don’t eat protein at breakfast, for example, something with eggs, is a really good protein-based breakfast. Then your body starts panicking and wondering whether you will be getting enough of the amino acids, which is what proteins are and can make you feel hungry, ensuring that your body’s very clever. It’s trying to get you to eat more. So it gets all the nutrients it needs. So protein and also protein makes you feel full. If you eat enough protein at each meal, you won’t feel it; it will help your blood sugar and hopefully stop cravings and energy dips. It will help balance everything out. So, protein is super important. 

NourishDoc: That’s beautifully said. Protein, if we start our day with protein, with, as you said, eggs, it’s hard to start eating chicken in the morning sometimes. However, with simple eggs or even tofu scramble or something, another moong dal, moong dal also has much protein, if for people who are vegetarians or vegan. The hunger pans reduced, and then that also takes care of the excess weight gain; the women had the problem, which we didn’t talk about today, that it’s hard to get rid of the weight gain at that age, and that quickly starts doing that as well, right? 

Nutritionist Helen: Yes. It does, and yeah, many women, when it comes to weight gain, stop eating or cut their calories, and that is not a good thing to do either. It’s just about eating the right foods; proteins are a very important part. 

NourishDoc: Okay, well, this is great. This is a quick ten-minute session that we bring daily. We are focusing on women’s health; we’ve been discussing broad topics for the last one and a half years. We have decided as a community to focus only on women, 40 plus. So, our topics, all of our topics, and we are launching programs and workshops very soon focusing only on women’s health; there is 40 plus. So, thank you so much. Thank you so much, Helen, for joining me in the morning and for everyone supporting us. We are going to work with Helen also to come up with some programs. So, thank you.


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