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Menopause occurs when a woman stops producing sex hormones. When the menopause hits, most women will experience the slowing down of their metabolism, increased problems with bone density and an elevated risk of heart disease. Furthermore, many women will experience other unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia.
You can help to support your body and make the transition to post-menopause run more smoothly by making some simple changes to what you eat. A menopause-friendly diet is a diet high in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. You may also find solace in increasing your intake of phytoestrogens and healthy fats: omega-3 fatty acids from fish in particular have been linked with reducing symptoms associated with menopause.
In addition to increasing your intake of certain foods to help cope with menopause, you should consider limiting other foods and taking a menopause supplement. Allow us to shed light on the foods you should be avoiding for a pain-free menopause, and to explain how supplementing with LYMA could provide you with the extra support you need.
There are so many reasons to limit your salt intake as you approach and navigate the menopause: for one, high salt intake leads to dehydration which, in turn, exacerbates a number of menopause symptoms from hot flashes and night sweats to low mood and weight gain. As well as being extremely dehydrating, salt can irritate your nervous system and lead to the headaches, anxiety, panic attacks and night sweats often associated with this period in a woman’s life. As if that wasn’t enough, eating foods high in sodium is incredibly inflammatory and can result in water retention which can compound the already-increasing number on the scale (weight gain due to hormonal changes is something most women will experience during menopause) and lead to a feeling of heaviness and discomfort, as well as lowered confidence in one’s appearance.
High salt intake has also been linked to reduced bone density in older women, and is associated with an increased likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
A cross-continental study into the effects of diet on menopausal women took 896 perimenopausal women living in Chile, Ecuador, Panama and Spain and looked at the association between diet and lifestyle choices and the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Researchers found an association between spicy food intake and an increase in number and severity of hot flashes. A further study considered the eating habits of 717 perimenopausal women in India and found the same association between increased spicy food intake and heightened experience of hot flashes. Eating spicy foods increases your basal temperature and can both augment and mimic the sudden and sometimes extreme increase in core body temperature that is responsible for those pesky hot flashes. If you love spicy foods then don’t feel you need to cut them out entirely as they’re doing no long-term damage, but you might find that your symptoms ease and you feel more comfortable if you decide to eat them in moderation.
Processed carbohydrates and refined sugars can raise your blood sugar dramatically, leading to increased perceived hunger and the vicious cycle of eating more only to find you’re still not quite satisfied. Over time this can lead to weight gain. Furthermore, high blood sugar levels and associated insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome have been shown to exacerbate hot flashes in menopausal women.
It stands to reason then, that limiting your intake of processed baked goods, breads, biscuits, cakes and crisps, and cutting down on sugary drinks may help to ease menopause symptoms.
Try to stick to smaller portions of unrefined, unprocessed whole grains where you can, and snack on raw fruits and veggies rather than processed bars, dips, crackers and sweets.
Watch your intake of artificial sweeteners too as they are difficult for your body to process, can put strain on the liver and can negatively impact your blood sugar levels, too.
First and foremost, caffeine negatively affects sleep. Menopause insomnia is a well-documented phenomena and one that affects approximately 61% of menopausal women. If you’re in this majority you’ll know how awful it can be to experience trouble not only falling asleep, but staying asleep too. Failing to sleep properly can have a knock-on negative effect on everything from compromised immune function and low mood, to increased weight gain and decreased productivity. Furthermore, in one study in 196 menopausal women, caffeine consumption was linked to an increase in the potency of hot flashes reported.
Alcohol is another recognised sleep disruptor. If you are experiencing insomnia as one of your menopause symptoms, you might want to consider avoiding alcohol altogether or in the second half of the day at a minimum. Experts also point out that drinking alcohol regularly - meaning most days - can aggravate and make worse pre-existing menopause symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and low mood. Alcohol is also full of what nutritionists call ‘empty calories’, meaning that your tipple of choice may not contain many nutrients relative to the number of calories it packs, and thus could contribute to unwanted weight gain.
The bottom line is that if you want a smoother menopause, with fewer side-effects and more manageable symptoms, you’re going to need to look at what you need to leave out of your diet, as well as what you need to add in. You should be loading up on the good stuff whilst limiting your consumption of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, spicy foods, fatty foods, salty foods, caffeine and alcohol.
Whether you’re main concern is weight gain, reduced memory or concentration, hot flashes, weak and brittle bones, insomnia, low mood, the development of fine lines and wrinkles, a reduced sex drive or fatigue, LYMA can help you to regain control.