10 tips for the menopause

The menopause occurs when ovulation ceases and oestrogen production decreases; it usually happens at an average age of 51 (range 40–58). Approximately 75–80% of women suffer some menopausal symptoms; it normally lasts for two to five years, but sometimes longer. 

Symptoms of the menopause

The most common menopausal symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbance, mood swings, forgetfulness and lack of concentration.

Despite there being quite a lot of information out there on the menopause, women often suffer in silence when they go through the peri-menopause and then the menopause proper. Before going for the HRT or other medication, a few lifestyle changes can really have an impact on symptoms such as hot flushes. 

10 top tips for a healthy menopause

1. Eat the right amount for you.
You may not need to eat as much as you did when you were younger, unless you are very active. Sometimes women tend to forget this and carry on eating as much as they always did!

2. Carrying extra weight can make menopause symptoms worse.
So, if you are too heavy try and lose some weight sensibly, and you should find your symptoms ease. Don’t follow any fad diets as this will not help to stress proof your body against the menopause symptoms.

3. Get active.
Aerobic, suppleness and also three strength sessions a week (using weights), This will offset age related muscle loss (and hence lowering of your metabolic rate) as well as help keep menopause symptoms at bay.

4. Avoid excessive amounts of saturated fats.
They may encourage weight gain and increase your cholesterol level. (bad cholesterol levels tend to rise after the menopause.)

5. Have a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (which helps you absorb calcium).
Calcium is found in dairy foods, tofu, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and fish with their bones in. As well as from sunlight, vitamin D is found in oily fish, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals. Take a daily 10 mcg supplement between October and March.

6. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
This is to ensure that your body gets enough disease fighting phytochemicals. Along with wholegrain starchy foods, vegetables provide the mood-regulating mineral, magnesium, which is often low in menopausal women.

7. Eat at least two portions of oily fish a week, or take a fish oil supplement.
This will provide long chain omega 3 fatty acids that can help protect your heart and other organs.

8. Have some whole grain starchy food that’s rich in fibre with each meal.
Such as brown rice, brown pasta, wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals. This will help keep your bowels regular and will provide you with a long-lasting supply of energy.

9. Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine.
They can be toxic to your body and will drain your energy. Alcohol and coffee may make hot flushes worse and pre-dispose you to osteoporosis, and alcohol may contribute to weight gain.

10. Cut down on salt.
This can lead to high blood pressure and may cause calcium to be lost from the bones, thus predisposing to osteoporosis. A high salt diet may also exacerbate bloating. To cut down on salt, reduce the amount of processed food you eat and don’t add salt to your food.

If you need more tailored advice seek out a health professional.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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