Menopause…..a dreaded word among females.
Menopause affects different women differently. It is a very individualistic experience. But a few common things are hot flushes, sweating, anxiety, mood swings and weight gain. Menopause is caused by the fall in the estrogen levels as the ovaries stop producing estrogen hormone. The decline and /or absence of estrogen hormones means changes in energy levels and increase in depressive symptoms as estrogen lifts up our mood. This also affects the metabolism and it slows down the metabolic rate. With age our muscle mass drops which further decreases our resting metabolic rate. All these result in weight gain in menopausal women. A healthy diet and exercise help a lot in managing the symptoms of menopause and in leading a healthy and active life.
Let us see how can we manage menopause symptoms with diet.
- Hot flushes: A very common symptom of menopause are hot flushes. Avoid foods that trigger hot flushes like tea, coffee, spicy foods and such stimulants especially at night. These may trigger hot flushes. Also research has proven that a healthy balanced diet results in a decrease in hot flushes.
- Mood swings: Increase your intake of the B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. B vitamins provide energy and also have a positive effect on our mood. Omega 3s are called building blocks of happy brains due to their positive effect on depression. Foods rich in B vitamins are whole grains, lentils, poultry and unprocessed foods. Foods rich in omega3 are oily fish (salmon, bangda, ravas), fish oil, flax seeds and walnuts.
- Bone health: Menopause affects our body in many ways and osteoporosis is one of them. Increasing age also brings in the possibility of osteoporosis. Hence up your intake of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Include good sources of calcium in your diet like milk, ragi, yoghurt etc. Move out in the morning sun for your dose of vitamin D. Due to the mood swings you may not feel like going out, but the morning sun does wonders for our mood while providing the required vitamin D. Speak to your doctor to know if you need vitamin D supplements. Research has shown that the women who had a sufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D post menopause were likely to suffer from fewer fractures.
- Dry skin and Vaginal dryness: The dryness is caused by the decreased estrogen leves. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Keep sipping water and don’t wait till you feel thirsty. Have yoghurt as the probiotics help in maintaining vaginal health. Include nuts like almonds and walnuts in your diet which are rich in good fats.
- Weight gain: Most of the women tend to gain weight post menopause. But it is not compulsory or mandatory to gain weight. We can be post menopausal and yet look sexy!
- Increase your fibre intake. Reach out for whole foods and stay away from processed foods.
- Cut down on red meat.
- Eat smaller meals and eat as per your hunger.
- Don’t go for fad/crash diets. They do more harm than good.
- Increase your protein intake. The amino acids and tryptophan in protein also help to beat depression. So instead of a chutney sandwich reach out for a paneer, egg or chicken sandwich.
- Exercise, really helps. Indulge in any activity which you like. Even a brisk walk is good enough but keep challenging yourself.
Menopause is a milestone in our life and not a disease or a disorder. Indulge in hobbies, keep yourself busy, reach out to friends and family and be Happy!!