Can diet affect menopause symptoms?
How what you eat can effect menopause symptoms
Nutritionist Jane McClenaghan gives you 5 useful tips on managing your menopausal symptoms through simple changes to your diet.
From hot flushes and night sweats to low mood, low libido and weight gain, mood changes and anxiety it is fair to say that the list of symptoms women can experience at menopause can be overwhelming.
If you are a woman in your 40s or 50s and want to be proactive about looking after yourself and minimising the impact that menopause has on your health, then nutrition is an essential part of your toolkit to help you manage fluctuating hormones and all that goes with them at midlife.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for helping you to manage symptoms of menopause.
Increase your protein intake
Weight gain can be one of the unwanted side effects at menopause, thanks to the decline in progesterone and oestrogen. From reduced muscle mass to weight gain around the midriff and hips, your body can start to feel like it is no longer your own. If you have noticed that despite not changing your diet, your body is getting a little (or a lot) flabbier and fatter, then a focus on increasing your protein intake can help.
At menopause women need around 1.2g protein per 1kg body weight (compared to 0.75g per kg in our younger years).
Adding extra protein to your diet will help you to:
- feel fuller for longer
- reduce cravings for sweet stuff and junk food
- improve muscle tone
- reduce percentage body fat
You can track your protein intake for a few days using an app like myfitnesspal or NutraCheck to help you get a handle on your current protein intake and then work out how much you need each day. This is somewhere between 80-100g for most women.
You can find protein in:
- nuts and seeds like Linwoods milled seeds
- nut butters
- beans and lentils
- dairy products (natural yoghurt, cottage cheese and kefir are my favourites)
One of my favourite ways to get an extra pop of protein into my clients’ breakfasts is by stirring in 2 x dessertspoonful’s of Linwoods Menoligna to Greek yoghurt. This makes a lovely breakfast on its own with fruit, or pop it on top of some porridge or granola (just makes sure you choose a low sugar one) if you want something a bit more substantial.
Build in plenty of phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant chemicals that have gentle hormone balancing effects on oestrogen levels. The phytoestrogens work as ‘adaptogens’, so they can reduce high levels of oestrogen or help to increase low levels. At perimenopause, we have fluctuating levels of oestrogen and these changing levels can feel like you are in whirlwind of symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to build phytoestrogen into your diet is to get a daily dose of Linwoods Menoligna. This has been specially developed to produce a higher dose of lignans, so is the perfect choice for supporting oestrogen balance at perimenopause.
Up the ante with your pulses too – chickpea curry, houmous, lentil soups and bean salads are tasty ways to include more of these hormone balancing plant chemicals into your diet.
Healthy fats for hormone balance
When our hormones start to change, we canticle a change in how our body feels. Dry skin, vaginal dryness, dry eyes, sore joints – these are all signs that your body may benefit from eta omega 3 fats.
These essential fatty acids have also been associate with helping to maintain a healthy cholesterol balance, blood pressure and cardiovascular health, which is important at menopause, as our risk of these conditions increases without the cardio-protective effects of oestrogen and progesterone.
Because these healthy fats are so important for women’s health, the message for women at menopause must be to eat better fat, not low fat. Here’re some ways to eat better fat:
- swap to olive oil
- eat oily fish 2-4 x week
- top up your daily omega 3 fats with hemp seed, chia and flaxseeds
Cut the sugar
Sugar plays havoc with our hormones at menopause. Keep an eye on food labels to work out where you are adding sugar, where you are eating hidden sugars and where you could make an easy swap in your day.
Look for foods that have a sugar content of 5g or les per 100g and avoid anything with more than 22.5g per 100g as they are a high fat food.
Fill up on fibre
Keeping your fibre intake high will help to keep digestion regular and help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Studies also show that a high fibre diet may help to reduce insulin sensitivity, which plays a part in why a higher fibre diet can be effective for weight loss at menopause.
Take a look at our incredible recipes that will help with creative ways to include our products into your daily diet. Here you will find our full collection of healthy recipes which will allow you to easily find the best products in our shop to suit your needs
Jane McClenaghan is Northern Ireland’s most recognised nutritionist with over 20 year’s experience. Her company Vital Nutrition specialises in developing and delivering group sessions for corporate and community clients both online and in-person as well as running an online membership club and offering one-to-one consultations.
Jane’s knowledge in the subject area of health and wellbeing is unrivalled as indicated by her qualifications, reputation and experience.
Jane’s sessions cover a range of health and wellbeing topics from mental health to stress, female and male health, healthy eating on a budget, heart health, sleep, family wellbeing and much more.
Jane is also the author of two books on nutrition, she writes a weekly column in the Irish News, has a monthly slot on radio U105 and is a regular contributor to the BBC, The Belfast Telegraph and many other media outlets.
You can find out more and get in touch with Vital Nutrition here