There is no question that perimenopause and menopause mark a time of change and adaptation for the body. Moreover, the extent or severity of accompanying symptoms depends on a variety of factors ranging from genetics to lifestyle habits.
Menopause kicks in when menstruation comes to an end and the ovaries stop releasing eggs. Perimenopause is the preceding period, usually lasting for 4 years on average, characterized by a decline in the levels of estrogen in the body.
Hot flashes, one of the most common symptoms linked to menopause, was believed to occur due to the reduction in estrogen. But research has shown consuming phytoestrogens could reduce the frequency of hot flashes without side effects.
These compounds can be found in plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains. “Certain fruits and vegetables have a mineral called boron that may increase estrogen levels in certain women,” said Susan Wysocki, who was the president at iWoman’s Health, a website to be launched soon.
Aside from this, a Mediterranean-style diet was beneficial in general to reduce the risk of diseases, avoid unhealthy weight gain, and target other potential consequences of aging.
Health experts usually advised against eating meals close to bedtime, encouraging an early dinner. Following this rule may be particularly beneficial during menopause as women were more prone to weight gain during this time.
“I generally recommend that my patients only eat during a 12-hour window each day — for example, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then put the kitchen on lockdown after that,” said Pamela Peeke, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “They’ll get some of the health benefits of intermittent fasting without the hassle or excessive hunger.”
Women need not avoid unsaturated fats (i.e. good sources of dietary fats) such as olive oil, fish and avocados. But saturated, trans fats from processed foods should have a limited place in a menopause diet as they can worsen symptoms such as night sweats.
“Research has also shown that trans fats increase bad cholesterol in the body and decrease good cholesterol, and too much in the diet could result in memory loss and an inability to concentrate, both of which some women experience as symptoms of menopause,” Wysocki noted.
Excess sugars from cookies, doughnuts, flavored beverages, candy, etc. can also induce mood swings and worsen the “menopause blues,” as they are known.
As an alternative, consider opting for fruits such as berries. They can satisfy your sweet tooth without causing sudden spikes in blood glucose levels thanks to their fiber content. Additionally, omega-3s — found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and plant oils — have been linked to better moods and a lower risk of depressive symptoms.
Along with these changes, it is also important to perform strength training activities twice a week, maintain a healthy sleep schedule, limit alcohol and avoid smoking.
This content was originally published here.