Nutrition in Menopause
As women transition through the various stages of menopause it is important to fuel the body with the nutrients it requires to support growth, development, hormones and immunity. There is so much misinformation on social media platforms by people claiming to be menopause coaches or even doctors, that is harmful to the general health of women. These individuals have no formal training in how to thoroughly scrutinise evidence based research and as a result, end up incorrectly interpreting data or misinterpreting the outcomes. This page is constantly in development as I research the latest journal articles and papers to provide you with the most up to date guidance on nutrition through the menopause. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me.
Physical changes and food choices
There are many physical changes that are associated with the menopause. These physical changes can include high blood pressure, changes in LDL and HDL cholesterol, a reduction in bone calcium, weight gain, hot flushes, poor concentration, heart palputations, iritability and joint pain. Adjusting your dietary pattern can assist with the reduction or severity of these symptoms alongside HRT.
Oestrogen plays a large part in the protection of the cariovascular system, as oestrogen levels fall this protection reduces. Using a transdermal oestrogen gel will increase levels within the body, increasing cardiovascular protection. However, there are other ways to protect our heart and blood vessels by adding certain foods that increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol, as well as providing other benefits.
Remember, HDL cholesterol is good and contains a high proportion of protein to cholesterol, they also carry LDL cholesterol away from our arteries and have anti-inflamatory properties. LDL cholesterol is bad and contains a higher proportion of cholesterol to protein and carry cholesterol to the cells, they stick to the inside of our arteries and over time, build plaques that restrict blood flow and cause strokes and heart attacks. See below for ways to improve your cholesterol levels.
Olive oil increases HDL levels
Oily fish such as salmon, trout or mackeral increase HDL (eat 1 - 2 times per week)
Avacados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) as well as fibre, both will lower LDL cholesterol.
Legumes - beans and lentils - lower LDL
Whole grains - oats and barley lowers LDL
Purple fruits - blackberries, blueberries, cherries etc increase HDL levels
Nuts - lower cholesterol and contain minerals linked to heart health.
Bone and muscle health
Calcium (700 mg per day) is a vital component of teeth and bones, the nervous system, heart and it also regulates muscle contraction. Calcium is mainly found in milk and yogurt. It can also be found in spinach and nuts however, these also contain phytates and/or oxalates which reduce calcium absorption.
It's important to add here that exercise will improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, specifically weight bearing exercise twice per week. Exercise also counteracts the loss of muscle from sarcopenia and is linked to a reduction in falls in the elderly.
To assist in the absorption of calcium, a vitamin D supplement should be taken during the winter months. A minimum dose of 10 mcg and maximum dose of 25 mcg will increase calcium absorption. In the summer months, 10 minutes outside in shorts and t-shirt will provide enough exposure for the body to make vitamin D however, if you spend the majority of the time covered up, indoors or are in an ethnic minority group, it is advised to supplement throughout the year.