Diet Recommendations for Menopause
By Rebecca Anderson
Menopause is a natural progression in the life span of every woman. While some women appear to breeze through the menopause years others are left feeling run down, tired, and irritable. Some experience symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, aches and pains, and weight gain. These symptoms are common and a natural response to the hormonal changes your body is transitioning through.
The good news is with the right lifestyle, diet, and guidance from your practitioner, the symptoms of menopause can be greatly relieved.
Below are dietary recommendations and a list of foods we suggest you include in your diet to help control symptoms and allow you to feel more in control of your life. Remember eat smaller meals more often, try to exercise three times a week for 30 minutes, take time out to relax as often as you can, get good quality sleep every night, and drink plenty of purified water and herbal teas
Protein – Include good quality low fat protein with every meal. Suggestions include lean unprocessed meats, cold water fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, pulses and beans, dairy foods and tofu and soy foods.
Fats – Consume only the best quality dietary fats rich in medium chain fatty acids, and essential fatty acids. Coconut oil, virgin cold pressed olive oil, and organic butter. Avoid all processed margarines. Foods to include are nuts and seeds, cold water fish, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables. Supplementing with high standard therapeutic oils such as flax/linseed, cod liver and fish oil will help meet physical requirements for healthy fats.
Carbohydrates – Eat only whole grains and unprocessed unrefined flours and products. Include complex carbohydrates and cut down on simple sugars. Try brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth. Stay away from pre-made/packaged baked and fried goods and all white flour products.
Calcium, vitamin D and supporting minerals – Calcium and its co-factors are important not only for bone health but for nerve and muscle function. Dairy is a good source of calcium but you can also find it in green leafy vegetables, almonds, tofu, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, and flax seeds. Vitamin D is plentiful in eggs, fortified dairy and juices, fish, cod liver oil and of course the sun’s rays. The minerals magnesium, zinc, boron, silica, and potassium also help calcium’s absorption and actions in the body.
Phytoestrogens – These naturally occurring chemicals found in plant foods and soy products mimic the action of the hormone estrogen in the body. It is this action which makes them such an important part of the diet for women during menopause. As naturally occurring levels of estrogen drop foods containing phytoestrogens can be consumed and this helps reduce many common menopausal symptoms.
Below is a list of foods High in Phytoestrogens –
Beans and peas (kidney, navy, pinto, red, mung, lima, chickpeas split peas)
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios
Flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds
Fruits – apricots, blueberries, dates, strawberries, peaches, pears, raisins, cherries, grapefruits, mandarins, kiwi, plums, oranges.
Vegetables – alfalfa sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussell sprouts, onions, garlic, leeks, french beans, red and green peppers, carrots, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes (and paste).
Soy and soy products – consume a small amount if needed, and stick with fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso. These foods are high in phytoestrogens but may also be highly processed or genetically modified.
And yes wait for it CHOCOLATE…but only the real dark kind with at least 70% cocoa or try cacao nibs for a change.
For mood control try foods high rich in the essential fatty acid omega 3 such as oily fish and flax seeds. Also eat foods rich in B vitamins including lean meats, poultry, liver, whole grains, and lentils.
For hot flashes and night sweats eat soy foods (NONGM always), omega 3 foods (as above), and foods rich in vitamin E such as eggs, asparagus, and avocados. Also try foods rich in B6 chicken, turkey, bananas, spinach, fish, liver, sesame and sunflower seeds, pork, molasses, pistachios, and hazelnuts, and Vitamin C foods including dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi fruits and strawberries. Sage tea may also be worth a try.
For aches and pains make sure you are getting enough magnesium from pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews, cacao, and rice, wheat and oat bran. Calcium from dairy foods, sesame seeds, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables potassium from apricots, avocados, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, dried fruits, B1 from sesame and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, fish, whole grains, pork, liver, and organ meats, and Vitamin C.
For poor sleep try bananas, oats, honey, dairy, and some omega 3 rich foods. Calcium, magnesium, and B6 from B12 from shellfish, liver, fish, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs, and chromium in brewer’s yeast, lean meats, cheese, whole grains, organ meats, mushrooms, oatmeal and asparagus.
For tiredness and lethargy the B vitamins are a good idea as is Vitamin D from cod liver oil, fish, fortified dairy, eggs, and mushrooms.
(Photo from Growing your own herbs)