Menopause: Good Nutrition Is Key
Many of these unpleasant conditions can be alleviated or prevented by a healthy diet. Good nutrition is key to a healthy body for people of all ages and genders, but it is especially important for menopausal women.
Calcium is extremely important for maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Calcium makes up a great portion of your bone mass, and calcium deficiency can weaken bones, leading to fractures. When your bones weaken and become brittle, this condition is called osteoporosis. Hormonal changes make women over 50 especially vulnerable to osteoporosis. Healthy sources of calcium include:
- Fortified skim milk
- Fortified soy milk
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach or broccoli
- Fortified orange juice
- Low fat dairy products, like cheeses or yogurt
- Beans (white, navy, black turtle, and pinto)
- Sesame seeds
- Sardines and salmon
Your body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time. Menopausal women need 1200-1500 mg of calcium per day, so be sure to eat calcium rich foods several times per day.
Vitamin D is essential for the body to be able to absorb and use calcium. Vitamin D is found in fortified foods like milk, soymilk, and orange juice. Additionally, 15 minutes of sun exposure per day is sufficient for the body to produce its own Vitamin D.
There are several foods that can cause hot flashes (sometimes called hot flushes) or at least make them worse. If you are experiencing hot flashes, avoid the following foods:
- Caffeinated sodas
- Hot foods
- Spicy foods
As you probably know, there are good fats and there are bad fats. Try to reduce your intake of saturated fats and increase you intake of good fats. Sources of good fats include:
- Canola and olive oil
- Seeds and nuts
- Coldwater fatty fish such as salmon
- Soft tub margarines
Sodium and Potassium
Excess sodium can cause high blood pressure and makes bloating worse. Eat a low sodium diet, not exceeding 2,400 mg of sodium per day. Do not add extra salt to your foods and be sure to check food labels carefully to check for hidden sodium.
Potassium can help reduce bloating, so eat plenty of fresh fruits rich in potassium, like bananas and kiwi fruit.
Some research has shown that eating foods high in phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, can help alleviate menopause symptoms. Phytoestrogens can be found in the following foods:
- Lima beans
- Soy products including soy milk, tofu, and imitation meat soy foods like soy burgers
- Flaxseed oil