At 47 I am well on the way to Menopause. But rather than feel disempowered like it seems the bulk of society wants women of my age to feel, I chose to feel empowered. This is a time when you have the luxury to chill and take care of yourself.. Your body is not closing up shop... by any means... I chose to think it is just starting up.
Menopause affects women typically between the ages of 45 and 55, marking the cessation of the regular menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, this transitional period often brings about uncomfortable symptoms that can make life more challenging and less enjoyable. In this article, we will discuss scientifically supported dietary changes that can help make menopause more manageable.
What happens during menopause?
The most significant change during menopause is a considerable decrease in circulating estrogen. This hormonal shift affects metabolism and can lead to weight and fat gain, as well as changes in fat distribution. A 1993 survey revealed that 50% of European women reported gaining at least 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs) during menopause, while US women also experienced significant increases in body fat during this stage.
Fluctuating hormones also result in symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and unstable energy levels. These symptoms can have a negative impact on quality of life and daily frustrations. Additionally, declining estrogen levels can have detrimental effects on bone health, muscle mass, skin, and cardiovascular health.
Based on this knowledge, we have identified five key areas to consider when developing a menopause-friendly diet:
1. Increase or maintain metabolic rate
Adjust the quantity and types of food you consume. Emphasise low-energy-density foods such as vegetables, fruits, soups, salads, low-fat protein sources (e.g., chicken, prawns, fish), dairy, and high-fiber foods.
Increasing protein intake is one of the best ways to increase your metabolic fire. Whilst we go into detail the exact way to do this in The Body Reset™ . By increasing the amount of protein you eat you will not only boost calorie burning by 0.8-22% but you will also feel fuller for longer + prevent cravings, due to protein being a primary monitor in regulating your hunger hormones. Including eggs and dairy at breakfast (the most important meal to set your metabolism. Throughout the day focus all meals on protein opting for 20 to 30 grams with each mea. Lean meats, fish or seafood at lunch and dinner, and snacking on raw nuts, clean protein drinks. full fat Greek yogurt, or protein smoothies in the evening can be highly beneficial.
Incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine is also crucial. Engaging in a simple 30 minute workouts, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving, or walking meetings can increase contribute to burning fuel.
2. Support strong bones
To increase activity throughout the day, incorporate walking, taking the stairs, and exercising into your routine. Additionally, consider total energy intake, protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Very low-calorie diets (crash diets) can have adverse effects on bone health.
Including calcium and protein-rich foods such as Greek yogurt, milk, or fortified soy milk can improve bone mineral density. While it may be tempting to eliminate dairy products while trying to lose weight I encourage you not to. Research has shown that dairy consumption can delay the onset of menopausal symptoms and improve sleep quality.
Supplementing with vitamin D, especially during winter months, is also recommended for bone health, immune function, mood, muscle health, and more.
3. Maintain muscle mass
Like bones, muscles need stimulation. Adopting an active lifestyle and engaging in regular resistance training exercises can be highly beneficial. Resistance training improves quality of life, functional strength, and mental well-being as you age.
Increasing protein intake supports the maintenance of muscle mass. As we age, our muscles become less responsive to the signals that promote muscle growth and repair, making it more challenging to maintain muscle mass and leading to frailty.
Incorporating protein-rich foods into your diet at all meals and snacks can help maintain muscle mass. Research has shown that a 60% increase in daily protein intake as The Body Reset™ prescribes, combined with resistance training, can help build lean muscle mass. Building muscle has long-term health benefits and can help alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, and changes in blood pressure. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active, contributing to calorie burning.
4. Boost collagen production
During menopause, declining oestrogen levels significantly affect collagen production in
the body. Oestrogen-deficient women experience reductions in skin thickness and collagen content, leading to decreased skin strength, fine lines, wrinkles, and aging skin. Collagen supplementation has shown positive effects on skin elasticity and structure.
Consistent supplementation with high-quality hydrolyzed collagen peptide at a daily dose of 2.5-5 grams can improve skin elasticity. Hydrolysed collagen peptides, when consumed as a supplement, promote the production of pro-collagen type 1 and elastin. Women who consumed a collagen peptide drink with other vitamins experienced visible reductions in wrinkle depth and improvements in skin appearance. Regular supplementation with around 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen peptides per day has shown beneficial effects on skin structure and appearance.
5. Supplements for managing symptoms
Phytoestrogens are nutrients that bind to oestrogen receptors and mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body. So you will feel more 'normal' and even so much that I have seen clients get their periods back... not sure if this is good or bad lol. You can find phytoestrogens in soy (edamame snacks are great.) , chickpeas, flaxseeds, garlic, and more. Consuming phytoestrogen-rich foods has been shown to reduce the frequency of hot flashes without serious side effects.
Several other supplements have shown promise in treating menopausal symptoms. Ashwagandha, an ancient Ayurvedic herb, may reduce hot flashes, improve mood, and alleviate stress and anxiety during menopause. Omega-3 supplementation or increasing dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids from sources like salmon, mackerel, and various seeds can improve mental well-being and reduce the risk of depression.
Increasing antioxidant and dietary polyphenol intake by consuming fruits, vegetables, and spices like turmeric and maca root can reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and hot flash symptoms. Probiotic supplementation has also shown benefits in weight management and hormonal balance in menopausal women.
What to avoid?
I don't like to completely eliminate foods, I find sometimes the idea of 'elimination' can psychologically drive you into craving said foods... doing more harm than good. That said if there was one food I would seriously consider removing it would be gluten.
I would also consider reducing the following
- Junk food + packaged foods which are packed with fake ingredients
- Reduce alcohol - set yourself a limit
- Processed Sugar, lollies and biscuits
- Switch 1 coffee a day for decay
Menopause leads to various changes in metabolic rate, muscle mass, bone health, heart health, mood but use this time to empower yourself with some tools to fight it rather than feel disempowered.
Adopting a high-protein and considering supplementation with vitamin D, collagen, protein, creatine, and probiotics, can be beneficial.
The Body Reset™ can steer you in the right direction to create your own personal holistic health plan. You can check out more here or just book your FREE Energy Audit + pick our brain about how you can move forward with ease and without stress.
Yours in wellness