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What is the ideal diet when you’re going through menopause?



María Eugenia Brun - published on 07/10/17

Help your body be at its strongest and healthiest during this phase of life.

Food plays a very important role in all stages of life, and we need specific nutrients in each one. One of those stages is menopause, which is defined as the cessation of menstruation for 12 consecutive months for no other pathological or physiological reason.

Menopause thus marks the end of the woman’s reproductive stage. This process begins a few years before the last menstruation and extends into old age. It usually occurs in women between 45 and 55 years of age.

Menopause is characterized by emotional, physical, psychological, biological, and even nutritional changes. So, to transition into this phase, women need family and health care support.

During menopause, some women may experience hot flashes and sweating or dizziness due to the widening or narrowing of blood vessels. But there are also a number of changes in the body that affect menopausal women’s health.

Changes at the bodily level

Women gradually begin to gain weight, usually five to ten pounds or more, while losing lean mass and muscle.

In addition, there are changes in the distribution of body fat, which migrates to the abdominal area at the level of the high waist. This is due to a decrease in enzymatic activity, caused by the drop in estrogen production. The increased fat storage can also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Read more:
Here’s the daily meal plan of a busy nutritionist mom

But the good news is that weight gain can be prevented by eating slightly less and doing some type of regular aerobic physical activity such as walking.

Changes in health

Lower estrogen production can lead to some health consequences. One of them is the aforementioned increase in body fat, which can promote higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Bone mass also decreases, along with intestinal calcium absorption. A vitamin D deficit can increase the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures.

Adapting our diet to this stage of life can prevent these diseases, help us reach an optimal state of health, and improve our quality of life.

Just take these nutritional recommendations into account to improve your eating habits, and of course do some physical activity, avoid smoking, and get some sun to absorb vitamin D.

Nutritional recommendations:

  • The amount of food you eat must meet your needs for energy and nutrients. The energy that the body consumes at rest decreases, so the calories must be decreased.
  • Eat more calcium-rich foods, especially dairy products (milk, yogurts and cheeses), as well as green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruits and sesame seeds.
  • Cut back on salt and salty foods to prevent hypertension and osteoporosis.
  • Reduce food with saturated fats like butter, cream, ice cream, whole milk, fatty cheeses, fatty meats like pork, lamb and chicken skin, cold cuts, sausages, products containing hydrogenated vegetable oils, and chocolates.
  • Eat more foods with omega 3 fats, like fish, seafood and marine oils, flax seeds, dried fruits, canola oils and soy. You can also get your omega 9 through olive, canola or soy oil, dried fruit, avocados, and olives.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits (2 of vegetables per day and 3 of fruits per day). Their antioxidants protect against cognitive deterioration and skin aging. In addition, they help you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption. If you drink red wine, which has antioxidants, stick to 1 drink per day.

Menopause can be one of the best stages of a woman’s life because it often coincides with greater maturity and freedom. Maximize its benefits by choosing a healthy diet that will help your body perform at its best.

This article was originally published in the Spanish Edition of Aleteia.

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