Menopause: Staying Healthy Through Good Nutrition
Some risk factors associated with aging and menopause
cannot be changed. However, healthy eating can prevent or reduce certain
conditions that may develop during and after menopause.
What are some basic dietary guidelines?
Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you
need. Since women's diets are often low in iron and calcium, follow these
- Get enough calcium. Eating and drinking 2 to 4 servings of dairy
products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting
enough calcium in your daily diet. Calcium is found in dairy products,
clams, sardines, broccoli and legumes.
- Pump up your iron intake. Eating at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods
a day will help ensure that you are getting enough iron in your daily diet.
Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables,
nuts and enriched grain products.
- Get enough fiber. Help yourself to foods high in fiber such as
whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Include at least 2 to 4 servings of fruits
and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables in your daily diet.
- Read labels. Use the package label information to help you to make the
best selections for a healthy lifestyle.
- Drink plenty of water. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a
- Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight by cutting
down on portion sizes and reducing foods high in fat, not by skipping meals.
A registered dietitian or your doctor can help you determine your ideal body
- Reduce foods high in fat. Fat should provide 30 percent or less of your
total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of
your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and increases
your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats, whole
milk, ice cream and cheese. Limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams (mg)
or less per day.
- Use sugar and salt in moderation. Too much sodium in the diet is linked
to high blood pressure. Also, go easy on smoked, salt-cured and charbroiled
foods -- these foods contain high levels of nitrates, which have been linked
- Limit alcohol intake. Women should limit their consumption of alcohol to
one or fewer drinks per day (3 to5 drinks per week maximum).
What foods can reduce menopausal symptoms?
Plant-based foods that contain isoflavones (plant
estrogens) work in the body like a weak form of estrogen and may help relieve
menopausal symptoms in some women. Some may lower cholesterol levels and have
been suggested to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Currently, most research
indicates that soy isoflavones are not particularly effective for treating
several menopausal symptoms. Aside from soy products, isoflavones can also be
found in foods such as whole grains and beans.
Should I avoid certain foods while I am going through menopause?
If you are experiencing hot flashes, you may find that
avoiding certain "trigger" foods and beverages – spicy foods, caffeine, and
alcohol -- may lessen the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Are there dietary supplements I can take to ease symptoms/prevent disease?
Because there is a direct relationship between the
lack of estrogen after menopause and the development of osteoporosis, the
following supplements, combined with a healthy diet, may help prevent the onset
of this condition.
- Calcium. If you think you need to take a supplement to get enough
calcium, check with your doctor first. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate
are good forms of calcium supplements. Be careful not to get more than 2,000
mg of calcium a day very often. That amount can increase your chance of
developing kidney problems.
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Your body uses vitamin D to absorb
calcium. People aged 51 to 70 should have at least 1000 IU daily. Those over
70 or with a history of vitamin D deficiency who have followed a replacement
program should take at least 2000 IU daily. Vitamin D intake helps with mood
disorders, autoimmune problems, and prevention of certain cancers in
addition to keeping the bones healthy.
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