Healthy eating can play a key role in reducing the symptoms of menopause.
August 04, 2009
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Diet and Menopause
Here are some tips for eating healthy during menopause. While it may seem like you've already heard all of this advice, it's highly likely that healthy eating habits really might lessen some of the challenging symptoms of menopause as well as help you to feel your best and fight off chronic diseases. Women's diets are often deficient in fiber, calcium, and iron so pay special attention to foods that contain these nutrients.
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Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintain a healthy weight by paying attention to portion size and your daily calorie needs because weight gain during menopausal is common. One study found that women gain an average of 12-15 pounds during this phase of life. There is also shift in body configuration from pear-shaped to apple-shaped and a 5% decrease in metabolic rate per decade. If you need help determining your calorie needs or specific weight loss advice, seek advice from a registered dietitian.
Limit sugar, salt, and alcohol. Spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol are all hot flash "triggers." If you suffer from hot flashes, try to remove these from your diet. Also, salt can contribute to fluid retention and abdominal bloating, which is common in menopause.
Isoflavones, which are found in plant-based foods like tofu and soymilk, have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and decrease hot flashes and night sweats. Some research suggests that women with breast cancer or at risk for breast cancer limit their intake of isoflavones. The American Cancer Society recommends that women consume moderate amounts of soy food as part of a healthy plant-based diet and should not intentionally ingest very high levels of soy products if they are at risk for breast cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if soy foods are right for you.
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Boost Fruit and Vegetable Intake
These potassium-rich foods help to balance sodium and water retention. Many fruits and vegetables are also high in folic acid and have anti-cancer properties. Try dark leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and bananas. These foods also contain heart-healthy fiber and disease-fighting vitamin C. Try to eat at least 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables each day.
Limit the amount of saturated fat (found in butter, fried foods, whole milk and fatty meat) and trans fats (found in vegetable oils, some baked goods, and margarine) and opt for heart healthy fats. Choose olive oil or canola oil, as well as foods rich in omega-3 fats like salmon, tuna, and halibut. Nuts and avocados also contain good-for-you fats.
Aim for 3 serving low-fat or fat-free dairy each day. This can come from milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy provides nine important nutrients including bone-building calcium, vitamins A and D, and potassium. Daily calcium needs after menopause increase from 1000mg per day to 1200mg per day to help offset bone loss that occurs with aging.
Opt for whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat breads, and whole wheat pasta to increase your intake of fiber, B vitamins, and iron. Aim for 30 grams of fiber per day from grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try to incorporate aerobic, strength-training, balance, and stretching activities. Make sure to speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
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