Put the “Me” in Menopause
Menopause is often met with bittersweet feelings and emotions. For many women, the time that marks the end of menstrual cycles can be a reality check. Your body is changing and going through an important process! Just like the converse situation – childbirth – it’s a time to focus on taking care of yourself by making healthy lifestyle changes and/or improvements. This doesn’t have to be radically different from what you were doing. Let’s focus on a few specific nutrients, achieve a balance of eating well, and get physically active. These will set you up for success down the road.
Generally speaking, symptoms vary from person to person. What causes these symptoms? The simplest explanation: hormones. As we age, our ovaries produce less and less estrogen and progesterone.
Thanks to decreasing hormones and the natural aging process, you may experience a slight metabolic slowdown. This doesn’t have to get you down! There are several ways to feel good, move well and have high self-esteem. Remember: this is just a temporary state! Our bodies are smart and adaptable. We can do these hard things!!
Top tips for managing menopause with good nutrition + healthy habits:
Get enough sleep and be proactive about keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle. Hot flashes might make it difficult to fall or stay asleep and being tired can lead to some extravagant food choices.
Consume enough calcium. The decline in estrogen puts a woman’s bone density is at risk. Combat this by getting your age-specific recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D can be tough to absorb via food alone, so ask your healthcare provider about adding a supplement.
Pay attention to your iron intake! This will help with efficient blood flow and oxygen delivery around your body. It’s found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products.
Fiber is foundational! Experts recommend most adults get around 25-35 grams per day. If you’re not already at or close to this level, it’s best to ramp up slowly. Meet this bump in fiber with adequate water. Fiber + natural probiotics from foods will help keep your gut happy and help everything process through your body with ease. Sources of fiber also keep your blood pressure within normal ranges, which is a crucial part of offsetting some of the effects of aging.
Don’t fear fats! Healthy, omega-rich fats that is. Unsaturated fats, found in fatty fish, nuts, avocados and flax seeds, are especially beneficial because of their anti-inflammatory effect. In some studies, they are linked to decreasing menopausal symptoms, but fats also keep you full and feeling good.
Continue to exercise, be physically active, and incorporate strength/resistance training into your routine. This will not only help with the decrease in estrogen but also have a protective effect against any change in bone density.
Focus on high-quality protein. The Pure 21 Wellness Challenge emphasizes these rich sources throughout the course of the day, for good reason. Your lean body mass and muscle mass might be compromised by your body. Protein can offset the decline in skeletal muscles. For this reason, women going through menopause may be encouraged to eat slightly more protein.
Keep these recommendations in mind. Remember, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Listen to your body, your hunger cues, and get as much water as possible! You’re doing great, you can do this, and you have the entire community behind you!