Menopause and diet, is a big topic. Here are some key facts regarding your nutritional needs leading up to, and throughout menopause. Look after yourselves, ladies!
The fall in oestrogen levels during menopause (and the preceding years) can cause a variety of symptoms. The menopause itself does not cause weight gain, but the lower oestrogen levels can slow metabolism and your hormonal changes may cause fat to be more readily store around your middle than hips and thighs. Dont panic! It really doesn’t need to be downhill from here…you might just need to change a few things.
Although your metabolism may be slowing, you can help avoid any weight gain by eating well, and preserving your muscle mass through exercise. You may need to look at your carbohydrate intake and timing as less fuel is burnt with a slowing metabolism. Aim to only eat carbs you are going to use (generally earlier in the day to use up in your everyday movements, and to fuel exercise). Get plenty of protein to maintain your muscle mass. It’s now as important as ever to keep active, with cardiovascular exercise, and your muscle mass strong through strength training to maintain a stronger metabolic rate.
The fall in oestrogen can also increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Choose your fats well and be extra mindful of saturated fats due to the increased risk, and watch the salt – it’s really important to look after your heart health, and blood pressure too. Mono and poly unsaturated fats are heart healthy and are found in plant sources – think avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Omega 3 provides heart healthy protective benefits, good food sources are oily fish, nuts especially walnuts and also flaxseed, so even more reason to get omega 3 a regular feature in your diet.
Calcium and Vitamin D become even more important due to the hormonal changes affecting bones. Calcium supports bone density and strength, it is rich in dairy, almonds, small fish where bones are eaten (ie sardines) and some green veg namely spinach, broccoli, kale.
Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium so equally essential. For vitamin D go for oily fish, mushrooms, and egg yolks which are all are good sources. Vitamin D is also formed in our skin by exposure to sunlight, so get outdoor time in your routines!.
Menopause is a time of change. Understanding it and providing the nutrition you need will really benefit your wellbeing and health during and after this period. Read up on it, understand the changes that are happening and use your diet and lifestyle to support you through the transition.