Menopause – ugh. Just the pure mention of the word can make many mature women curl their toes and crinkle their noses. Unfortunately, there comes a time in a woman’s life when this dreaded change must come to fruition. However, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, and for those who are beginning to embark on this unavoidable transition, or maybe have even suffered with it for a while, there are easy tips and tricks one can implement within their daily life to ensure menopause stays at a minimal discomfort. Here at Innermost, we not only produce some fantastic food supplements to regulate hormone imbalance like The Recover Capsules, but also want to shed a light by explaining how nutrition and menopause can go hand in hand with one another. We all love food, right? But first, let’s delve deep into what menopause actually is…it’s better to know the signs we can assure you.
What is menopause?
To put it simply, menopause is the time that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and this usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50, although in some this may arise earlier still. The reproductive cycle begins to slow down as a woman ages and prepares to stop – something that has been on a continuous cycle since puberty. As menopause approaches, the hormone called estragon that your ovaries produce becomes less frequent, and with this begins the period alteration. First, most women will experience irregular monthly bleeding, which will eventually peter out to a stop.
Before the real deal, many will experience perimenopause – the traditional timeframe into menopause, and this on average can last from 4 to 8 years, with some lucky ones only experiencing it for a month! To differentiate between the two – perimenopause is when a lady experiences symptoms alongside a period, with the latter meaning symptoms without a period. Once 12 consecutive months have passed by without any bleeding, this is when you know the pesky full transition has occurred and will last for the rest of your adult life (ah).
The most difficult part of this change is the subtle and not-so-subtle symptoms, but bear in mind that you may only experience a few of these:
- Irritability and mood swings
- Night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Sleep problems – discover our blog on how to improve sleep to help with this
- Memory issues
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain
- Decreased muscle mass
- Poor bone density
- Decreased sex drive
- Skin changes
This may seem like a long list (we know) but there are lifestyle alterations that can be implemented to ease troublesome symptoms, and an important one is managing these with nutrition – being careful with what you put into your body is key.
Nutrition vs. menopause
With or without menopause, and no matter your gender, nutrition has and will always greatly impact your body’s functionality and parts. It is always important to keep up with a healthy diet and gain all the necessary nutrients to take on everyday life, which extends to menopause. We are aware that some of you may be questioning what the best diet for menopause is, and we can help you with this. Switching up your diet whilst you are experiencing the change is a must – ensure you are fuelling your body with enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes, etc, as this will give it a better fighting chance as well as supporting your digestion, gut health, organs, muscle mass, and bone strength. In addition to this, as weight gain is one of the symptoms, it will help keep this in check too. A win-win situation all around. The following pointers are a great place to start when altering what you put into your body.
- Consume fruit and vegetables
As a rule of thumb, ensure your plate is as colourful as it can be, and that means grabbing all those beneficial fruit and veggies (even the ones you may dislike). We know this may stifle a groan but the more colour in your diet, the more minerals, and vitamins you will consume which will greatly benefit you in the long run. So, drop that chocolate bar and fill your boots with broccoli, sprouts, and carrots – yum!
- Consume more lean proteins
Protein is one of your best companions when it comes down to improving your symptoms and we suggest focusing on lean meats like fish, eggs, and chicken – try free-range or organic If possible. Protein will improve muscle mass and aid in digestion, as well as keeping you fuller for longer. If you are opting for a vegan diet and are on the scout for the best sources of vegan protein, then pulses are a great alternative.
- Focus on foods that contain phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estragon, making them a fantastic choice to combat the estragon deficiency caused by menopause. Start introducing soya, lentils, flaxseeds, chickpeas, oats, and wholegrains into your meals which in return will help keep you in check and balance those annoying imbalanced hormones.
- Get enough calcium
Calcium is essential for keeping bones and teeth healthy, as well as nerve and muscle function. In a worst-case scenario, a calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis which is a condition that causes bones to thin. Ladies who are going through their change are particularly vulnerable to this, so it is important to drink enough milk, indulge in that cheese (Ok maybe not too much), and even consume other non-dairy foods like leafy greens. Or opt for non-dairy alternatives like plant-based milk.
- Did someone say omega 3
To help maintain a healthy heart, keep joints flexible, and maintain youthful-looking skin – take to foods that contain omega 3. This good fat nutrient may stir people away, but don’t let the scare of fats deter you as it is a great aid alongside menopause. Fish may not be to everyone’s liking (sorry), but buying oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are the favourited foods. Flaxseeds can be a replacement for those who can’t seem to consume the fishy subjects.
- Eat more nuts, seeds, and legumes
Eating seeds and nuts such as almonds and sunflower seeds, as well as helpful legumes like lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts, and peas, can help prevent the dryness of the skin that occurs during the alteration and can also have an impact on hormone levels due to being filled with nutrients like zinc, calcium, and vitamin E – perfect!
Foods to avoid during menopause
With the Ying comes the Yang which means whilst there are plenty of healthy food groups to delight in that can be of benefit, there are also alternatives that will in the end do you more harm than good. So, grab those colourful, natural groceries and avoid the following food cravings:
- Processed foods – like crisps, cookies you name it. These are usually high in sodium and loaded with sugar, it is definitely best to avoid these.
- Spicy foods – this one may seem odd but consuming hot foods can actually trigger hot flushes and sweats and anyone with menopause can agree they don’t need more of that!
- Fast foods – it may be oh so convenient to pop to your local fast food restaurant, but these quick meals can serve up a huge amount of fat and this will do you no good.
- Alcohol – to help with menopause symptoms, keep your alcohol consumption to a moderate amount as drinking well over this can aggravate annoyances further.
- Caffeine – like alcohol, it is best to limit or completely stop your caffeine intake. In a caffeine and menopause study, it was discovered that women who consumed caffeine whilst going through menopause suffered from hot flushes more than women who consumed none at all.
Life is inevitable, and we cannot avoid the natural processes that are meant to occur within our lifetime. Women age, and with that comes the alteration into menopause. It can be a difficult time to endure, but there are ways to combat this pesky change. Lifestyle factors play an important role in this and keeping up a healthy diet whilst consuming all the necessary vitamins and minerals is a must. In the long run, this will help to manage the onset of symptoms and keep your body fit and healthy. Please keep in mind that no woman has to suffer with this in silence, so please reach out to your friends and family for support. Or even gain guidance from the NHS and speak to a healthcare professional that can help nurture you along your way. After all, life is for living - don’t let the troublesome menopause take control.