How can nutrition impact your menopause symptoms?
Menopause. It’s going to happen sooner or later, but it shouldn’t be something that we fear.
Aging is an inevitable fact of life and menopause should be seen as an important transition to another phase in a woman’s journey through life.
Menopause begins when a woman’s oestrogen levels drop and in turn, the ovaries cease producing eggs to be fertilised. As these hormonal changes take place, there is an impact on other areas of the body and menopausal symptoms can rear their ugly head.
Some common symptoms of menopause can include hot flushes and night sweats, hormone fluctuation resulting in mood swings, vaginal changes such as dryness or discomfort and body changes within the metabolism and bone density. Throughout the 2-6 menopausal years, the menstrual cycle may become irregular before ceasing completely. Menopause is essentially puberty in reverse.
With all these bodily changes occurring, we are often asked how women can manage this phase and ensure they are giving their bodies the best chance at coping with the symptoms of menopause and remaining healthy.
We’ve put together 5 important tips to reduce the effects of these disruptive symptoms and implement healthy habits to remain balanced through your transition.
You’ve heard this plenty of times before, and it’s quite vague, but let us break down what this means for menopause.
It’s very important to nourish your body with adequate nutrition during this phase. We suggest regular intake of the following nutrients to help remain balanced:
- Calcium – found in dairy foods, sardines, salmon, broccoli and legumes.
- Vitamin D – aids in bone health and can be sourced through direct sunlight exposure or supplements.
- Iron – found in meats (primarily red meats) along with leafy greens and seafood.
- Fiber – maintains good bowel movements through beans, whole grains and brown rice.
Foods to limit
Yes, there’s a flip side to increasing intake of good nutrients. As your hormones fluctuate, it’s common for the metabolism to see changes and slow down. You may experience increased insulin resistance, loss of muscle mass and increased fat storage. It’s important to limit the unhealthy foods such as high cholesterol, high-sodium, and sugary foods which you may have been able to eat regularly pre-menopause. This isn’t about cutting these foods out completely -we all deserve a treat occasionally- but limiting these foods will go a long way toward keeping a healthy balance while your body navigates these internal changes.
Moving your body and getting your heart rate going is especially important during the menopausal years. Loss of muscle mass, decreased bone density and lowered metabolic rate can all be countered with regular physical activity. We recommend between 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day alternating between aerobic and weight-bearing to maintain strength. If weight training is a new concept to you, please consider speaking with your GP before starting any new exercise programs and learning the basics from a professional fitness coach.
Setting up a regular sleep routine will provide your body’s internal clock with a predictable cycle in which it knows it can rest and recover. Many menopausal women experience night sweats which can lead to poor sleep and weight gain. We offer the following tips to reduce sleep disruption and help tolerate varying internal temperatures:
- Set up your bedroom to be free from electronic distractions
- Consider a short meditation before turning off the lights to sleep
- Wear loose, breathable clothing to bed
- Drink water before bed and have it available nearby if required throughout the night
- Set up a fan that can be easily switched on through the night, if required
- Consider a new mattress or mattress topper with breathable qualities to avoid overheating
For many women, menopause signifies the reality that they are getting older and no longer in the fertile stage of their lives. This can be confronting for some women as society has conditioned us to be ashamed of the aging process.
One of the most liberating ways to combat menopause symptoms is to simply accept that it is happening and embrace how incredible our bodies are. Menopause is not something to be ashamed of. Our bodies should be celebrated as they transition into a new stage and with a healthy approach, we should be able to minimise the discomforts that inevitably come with menopause.
At Body Balancing Nutrition, we offer guidance through your menopause journey via nutritionists and dieticians. Get in touch with us today!