We have been focusing on women's health and have set up educational sessions to discuss diet and the menopausal part of aging, perimenopause and managing menopausal symptoms. We have put together some frequently asked questions about diet an menopause. More information about our groups sessions or individual consultations can be found in our booklet.
Is it true menopause makes you gain weight?
Weight gain is common as on average a women's metabolic rate drops by 10% due to menopause. This change, coupled with the fact that muscle mass decreases in our 30's, means a greater focus on a healthy balanced diet, portion sizes and strength based exercises twice a week to try and maintain a healthy weight.
Menopause increases calcium loss from bones due to decreased oestrogen levels, which increases the chance of brittle bones also known as osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are key for optimising bone health. Aim for 3 portions of low fat dairy food or calcium fortified plant alternatives a day to have sufficient calcium intake such as milk, cheese or yogurt. A daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement is recommended for all adults, especially in winter months.
Anything to help with symptoms such as hot flashes?
This is a common question. Hot flushes effects approximately 40% of women going through the menopause. A reduction in caffeine, alcohol and spicy food intake is reported to help. Plant oestrogens (aka phytoestrogens) can help when your hormone oestrogen levels are low. Foods that contain these are soya or linseed based foods such as yogurts, edamame beans, soya milk and soya/ linseed breads. The key with plant oestrogens is to have 2 to 3 sources spread out over the course of a day and trial for 3 months to determine the impact.
Does it mean I have to eat less calories now?
Due to a decreased metabolic rate you will need to focus on what you eat to ensure the right balance to optimise health and minimise weight change. Focusing on just calories can mean dietary quality could be compromised. Focus on portion sizes and a Mediterranean style diet with oily fish, high fibre, low fat and regular weight based exercises.
Does menopause change how much you go to the loo?
It can do! Some women find that hormone changes make their bowels sluggish and have an increase in bloating or constipation. The key to preventing this is high fibre food sources such as fruit, wholegrains, carbohydrates, beans, pulses and vegetables. drink plenty of fluid aiming for 6-8 glasses per day. If your urine is darker than pale straw colour; you need to drink more.
So this is linked to fluid again, so firstly ensure you are well hydrated. Decreased levels of oestrogen decreases collagen production, which is a key protein in our skin that keeps it supple and healthy. Eating a variety of food groups are key, especially fruit containing vitamin C and vegetables. Note if you are taking HRT this may minimise the total reduction of oestrogen. If you are not taking HRT then including soya and linseed based foods can help.