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Menopause Diet: What to Eat & What to Avoid

The Diet Plan When You Stop Ovulating

Newsweek AMPLIFY-  Menopause Diet

It's important to consult your doctors with any medical concerns, and before making any changes or adding supplements to your health plan.

Menopause has reportedly been easier for Asians compared to Westerners. Hot flashes have been reported by only about 10% of women in China, and 22.1% of women in Japan. On the other hand, hot flashes are experienced by 75 % of women over the age of 50 in the United States. Why is this so? Researchers think it because of what they eat.

Short history lesson alert!

Greek and Mayan women share different experiences of menopause.

Historically, Greek women started out as subsistence farmers. Menopause for them happened at 47, compared with the average age of over 50 in the US. About 75 % of the Greek women experienced hot flashes.

Mayan women resided in the southeastern part of Yucatan, Mexico. Menopause for them happened earlier than in Greece or the US, at an average age of 42. Unlike Greeks and Americans, hot flashes were unknown among Mayan women. They have no word for them. Midwives and medical professionals reported that hot flashes did not occur to the women in their area, nor are they mentioned in any Mayan medical books.

The difference between Americans and Greeks who commonly experienced hot flashes and the Mayans with whom hot flashes were an unknown concept, appears to be diet.

The Mayan diet consisted primarily of corn, beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables, with very little meat and no dairy products. It is extremely low in animal products and low in fat. Greeks, while they also ate their vegetables and legumes, also a lot of meat, and dairy as does the cuisine of other countries in Europe and North America.

Animal-based meals strongly affect hormone levels

In their entire life cycle, Western women tend to eat much more meat, and about four times as much fat, as Asian women with rice-based diets. When placed in juxtaposition with one another, Western diets with high-fat, low-fiber causes a rise in estrogen levels greater than Asian women.

Women on higher-fat diets have significantly more estrogen movement than the women on low-fat diets. At menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen. Those on high-fat diets receive a drastic drop in estrogen levels.

For Asian women, this drop is less dramatic since they started with lower levels of estrogen both before and after menopause. This makes their menopausal symptoms much milder or even nonexistent.

What food should I eat?

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, may help women who are going through menopause.

A review study in 483 menopausal women determined that omega-3 supplements were able to significantly decrease the frequency of hot flashes and the severity of night sweats.

Food with the highest omega-3 fatty acids includes chia seeds, flax seeds, and fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are high in nutrients, including fiber and B vitamins, such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.

A study conducted in over 11,000 postmenopausal women in Iowa noticed that eating 4.7 grams of whole-grain fiber per day lowered their risk of early death by 17%, contrasted to those eating only 1.3 grams of whole-grain fiber per day.

Whole-grain foods consist of barley, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and quinoa. You should make it a habit to check the labels on your packaged food. If whole grain was listed as the first ingredient, then it means that the product is composed primarily of whole grains.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with antioxidants and of course, all those vitamins and minerals that you need daily. The American dietary guidelines highly recommend you fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

In a one-year intervention study to evaluate whether reduced fat intake with increased intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, reduced hot flashes and night sweats in over 17,000 menopausal women, a 19% reduction was found compared to the control group. The reduction was credited to the weight loss that came with a healthier diet.

Dark berries are also especially good for women going through menopause. In an eight-week study, 25 grams a day of freeze-dried strawberry powder reduced the blood pressure of menopausal women when compared to a control group.

In another eight-week study in middle-aged women, those who took 200 mg of grape seed extract daily reported fewer hot flashes, better sleep, and lower rates of depression.

Phytoestrogen-Containing Foods

Phytoestrogens act as weak estrogen in your body. Recent research indicates that women undergoing menopause would benefit from these estrogen-centered foods. These foods include soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, grapes, berries, green and black tea.

In a review of 15 studies ranging from 3 to 12 months, phytoestrogens including soy, and red clover were found to lower occurrences of hot flashes with no serious side effects.

Newsweek AMPLIFY-  Menopause Diet

What should I avoid?

Added Sugars and Processed Carbs

High blood sugar, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome have been linked to increase the number of instances and heighten the intensity of hot flashes and cold sweats in menopausal women.

Processed foods and added sugars rapidly raise blood sugar. The more processed the food, the greater the effect on your blood sugar.

Limiting your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sugars would be most beneficial to your post-menopausal diet. Switch your such your white bread and crackers with wheat or rye options and snack on dates and plums instead of cookies and other sweet baked goods.

US guidelines advise keeping added sugar intake to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake, roughly 50 grams. Choose alternatives that re naturally sweet on their own like fruit and vegetables.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Studies show that caffeine and alcohol can trigger hot flashes in women going through menopause. They have been recorded to greatly increase the severity of hot flashes if not also their frequency.

Caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disruptors. If you notice that you have had trouble sleeping at night, more so because of your menopause, then cutting away alcohol and caffeine at this time would be best for you, or at least no more coffee and wine after sundown.

Spicy Foods

Avoiding spicy foods is a common recommendation for menopausal females. This has been linked to the increased anxiety levels of women who eat spicy food, thereby aggravating the hot flashes they experience.

As your reaction to spicy foods may be individual, use your best judgment when it comes to including spicy foods in your diet and avoid them if they seem to worsen your symptoms.

High-Salt Foods

After menopause, the sharp decline in estrogen intensifies your risk of developing high blood pressure. High salt intake has also been associated with lower bone density in postmenopausal women. Therefore, you should reduce your sodium intake when you're under a menopausal diet.

In a study in over 9,500 postmenopausal women in Korea, sodium intake of more than 2 grams per day was correlated with a 28% higher risk of low bone mineral density.

Supplements After Menopause

There is a direct relationship between the estrogen depletion that happens after menopause and the development of osteoporosis. It is highly recommended that you start taking these specific supplements along with a healthy diet to prevent it.

Calcium. Increasing calcium in the diet through food includes increasing your dairy and dark green leafy vegetables intake. Collared greens, broccoli, and kale are high in calcium alongside sardines and salmon (with bones).

Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. Increase your vitamin D intake by adding some light canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms to your weekly diet.

Newsweek AMPLIFY-  Menopause Diet


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