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Managing Your Diet Through Menopause

Managing Your Diet Through Menopause

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman's life that brings hormonal changes, which can have various impacts on her health and well-being. Below I will discuss the dietary considerations that can help manage menopausal symptoms and promote overall health during this transitional period.

Understanding Menopause

Menopause is the stage when a woman's menstrual periods permanently stop, marking the end of her reproductive years. It is typically diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without a period. The average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51, usually happening between the ages of 45 and 55. Approximately 1 in 100 women will experience menopause before they are 40 years of age.

The end of a monthly menstrual period will take pressure off the body to continuously produce as much new blood. When it comes to nutritional requirements for important nutrients like iron, the body will now need less. Nonetheless, although menopause is a natural biological process, the hormonal fluctuations it brings can lead to a whole host of menopause symptoms. Some of the most common menopause symptoms are weight gain, hot flushes and brittle bones. Every inch of a woman’s body can experience change. Although menopause is often reached between 45 and 55 years of age, symptoms of perimenopause can start 7 years before periods stop.

Importance of Nutrition in Menopause

During menopause, maintaining a nutrient-rich and balanced diet becomes crucial for overall health and well-being. The body's nutrient needs change during this phase, and a healthy diet can help alleviate symptoms, support hormonal balance, promote bone health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. So, let’s dive deeper into each area.

  1. Essential Nutrients and lifestyle factors for Hormonal Balance


Consider adding more plant-based foods into your diet. Plant oestrogens are also called phytoestrogen. They are very similar to human oestrogen but are weaker. Nevertheless, they can help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats in some women. To try and see if they help you, add in soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, soya milk and soya yoghurt as well as flaxseeds/ linseeds into your daily diet for the next 2 to 3 months. They are also a heart healthy option and have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels so they serve more than one purpose!

Calcium and Vitamin D

During menopause, the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures increases. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the inside of bones making them more fragile. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is essential for improving your bone strength. So it is essential to incorporate a vitamin D supplement and more dairy products into your diet.

In Ireland, it's recommended that we take 15 mcg of vitamin D each day from Halloween to St Patrick’s Day. However, if you have darker skin, you will need to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.

Incorporate more calcium-rich foods into your diet. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese need a greater focus in the diet from the beginning of menopause as they are great sources of calcium as well as providing other bone-supporting nutrients such as protein and phosphorus. The aim is for 3, if not 5 portions of dairy each day with a portion being 200ml of milk, 1 pot of yoghurt or a matchbox size of cheese.

Omega 3 fats

Omega 3 fats are important for our health. ALA is an essential fat meaning that we must eat it as our body cannot make it. Not only do you need this fat to make other omega 3 fats, it also contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. It is found in walnuts, chia seeds, rapeseed oil and linseeds.

EPA and DHA are omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish particularly oily fish such as salmon, kippers, pilchards, trout, herring, sardines, fresh carb, whitebait, swordfish and mackerel. They have been shown to be important for the health of the lungs, hormones and the immune system. They also contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure, triglyceride levels and normal function of the heart.

DHA is particularly important for the eyes and brain due to its structural role there. It contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function and vision. Including these foods in your diet may help manage menopause-related heart disease risks. Oily fish not only provide omega 3 fats but are also excellent sources of protein as well as vitamin A and D.

Lifestyle Modifications

In addition to dietary considerations, adapting a more healthy lifestyle can further support your overall well-being during menopause.

  • Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can help manage weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, help to better manage mood changes and promote better sleep. Aim for a combination of aerobic or cardiovascular exercises (e.g. walking at a fast pace), strength training (e.g. pilates), and flexibility exercises (e.g. yoga) for overall fitness.

  • Stress Management Techniques

High stress levels can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Incorporating stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga can help reduce stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.

  • Hydration

Staying hydrated is essential for optimal health. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Tea and coffee do count towards your fluid intake but best choose decaffeinated versions to prevent any ill effects on sleep, flushes or other menopausal symptoms. Adequate hydration can help maintain healthy skin, improve gut health, regulate body temperature, prevent UTIs and support various bodily functions.

  • Reducing alcohol intake

Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. As most of us are aware, alcohol has a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health. For example, from a mental health point of view it can leave us feeling anxious and depressed as well as cause brain fog and difficulties with memory.

  • Sleeping better

Caffeine can play havoc on sleep patterns and exacerbate symptoms of menopause like hot flushes, night sweats and anxiety. If you’re suffering with sleep or are not refreshed when you wake up, consider switching to decaffeinated teas and coffees.

As we age, sleep can be impacted and adding in extra magnesium to your diet may help. This can help to get your sleep pattern on track while also improving your sleep quality. Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of magnesium. If you’re considering taking a supplement, please speak to a health care professional and your pharmacist first! For a super natural approach, research has shown that 2 kiwi fruits 1 hour before bed has the potential to improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency! Fortunately, they can help if experiencing constipation too.

If you are looking for more information and advice on menopause, please speak to one of our teams today, we are here to support you on your journey.

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