The Role of Diet in Menopause Symptoms

16 April, 2020
Menopause is a stage of life characterized by certain physiological changes. These changes involve specific nutrient requirements and energy. In this article, discover the role of diet in menopause symptoms.
 

The symptoms of menopause in women mark the onset of old age. During this stage, nutritional needs vary, due to the hormonal changes that occur.

Therefore, experts have established specific recommendations for different age groups, levels of physical activity, and physiological situations that affect women’s lifestyles to help them stay healthy.

Do you want to know how your diet can help you control your menopause symptoms? Read on, as we’ll explain all below!

What’s menopause?

Menopause is a normal physiological process in a woman’s life. It causes the definitive disappearance of menstruation. It usually occurs approximately at 45-50 years of age, although family history influences the beginning of this stage of life known as menopause.

Nutritional recommendations during menopause

A plate representing a balanced diet.
A balanced diet is essential for ensuring your body works properly during menopause.

Menopause is a stage of life characterized by certain physiological changes. These changes involve specific nutrient and energy requirements. Energy needs decrease by approximately 5% every decade, meaning the caloric intake should be lower.

In addition, a varied and balanced diet that’s tailored to individual needs contributes to staying healthy, preventing diseases, and improving quality of life.

 

The caloric distribution of macronutrients during this stage will be based on the principles of a balanced diet.

  • Carbohydrates must represent between 45-60% of the total calories
  • Also, proteins must represent between 10-15% of the total calories
  • Likewise, fats must represent between 20-35% of the total calories

Carbohydrates

Women who already went through menopause must consume more complex carbohydrates and should avoid the intake of simple sugars from candy, pastries, and soft drinks.

Proteins

Approximately 50% of the consumed proteins must be of high biological value so they can provide the body with the necessary amounts of essential amino acids. Also, experts recommend combining plant proteins (cereals and legumes) to provide the body with quality proteins.

Fats

These are quite important in menopause. Experts suggest the consumption of monounsaturated (oleic acid) and polyunsaturated (linoleic, eicosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acid) fats versus saturated fats.

Vitamins and minerals

The recommended intake of vitamins and minerals is the same as for the rest of the population, with the exception of calcium and vitamin D. This is because their intake is essential for the prevention of osteoporosis.

You should also read: Diet for Menopause: Nutrients that Shouldn’t Be Left Out

Foods to control menopause symptoms

A woman covering her eyes with kiwi.
Certain foods that reduce menopause symptoms are important during this stage.
 

The body responds to hormonal changes with some symptoms that can be bothersome. These guidelines and foods will help you enjoy this stage.

1. For hot flashes

Experts recommend lowering the consumption of stimulating foods such as teas with caffeine, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate, especially at night.

The reason is that they can increase or intensify hot flashes because they stimulate the nervous system, inhibit sleep, and increase urine frequency. Not getting restful sleep can trigger hot flashes.

2. For the bones

Dairy products.
Calcium is the main mineral in bone formation.

Postmenopausal women are the group most at risk for suffering bone problems (four times more than men). This is because they suffer a drop in estrogen levels and other hormonal deficiencies that cause irregular calcium absorption.

One in two women will suffer at least some bone fracture, usually of the hip, according to data from the study “Osteoporosis: a major public health problem”. Thus, the essential foods that provide the most nutrients for strong bones are those rich in calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium.

  • Calcium

This is the main mineral in the formation of bone tissue. Without this mineral, the body can’t form healthy and structured bones. Thus, not consuming it increases the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

 
  • Vitamin D

This vitamin is important to promote calcium absorption, helping maintain an adequate level of this mineral in the blood. Oily fish, eggs, and liver are especially suitable for people with bone problems due to the fact that they’re rich in this vitamin.

  • Phosphorus

Just like vitamin D, phosphorus deficiency affects calcium absorption, causing bone demineralization. The foods that best balance the contribution of phosphorus are those rich in protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Nuts, whole grains, and legumes are also rich in this vitamin.

  • The importance of vitamin K

The latest studies focused on the fight against osteoporosis have shown that bone mass loss isn’t only due to a lack of calcium. A deficiency of another protein named osteocalcin also plays a role.

Vitamin K deficiency increases the risk of bone fractures, as demonstrated by the study “Dilatational band formation in bone” published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vitamin K deficiency inhibits bone calcification.

3. For the skin

A woman's face with and without wrinkles.
Hydration is key to keeping the skin elastic and firm during menopause.
 

As the years pass, it’s normal for the dreaded wrinkles to appear. A drop in estrogen levels can accelerate this process. To prevent excess wrinkling, it’s important to maintain a daily beauty routine.

In addition, you should include foods that act as antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C. You can find this vitamin in peppers, kiwi, broccoli, blackberries, and citrus fruits.
  • Zinc. Shellfish, meat, seeds, lentils, and beans are rich in this mineral.
  • Vitamin A. Foods such as carrots, beets, tomatoes, and any red vegetables are rich in this vitamin.

Although these foods help maintain natural skin elasticity, you can’t forget to moisturize. Drinking eight glasses of water a day during menopause is a must if you want beautiful skin.

You should also read: Diet for Women Going Through Menopause

4. To better cope with hormones

A woman at a doctor's appointment.
Foods rich in some essential amino acids help control menopause symptoms.

Foods rich in tryptophan

This amino acid is essential in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood swings and sleep and appetite changes. These are common changes during menopause.

To reduce these menopause symptoms, it’s important to increase your consumption of:

 
  • Turkey meat
  • Fish
  • Spinach
  • Cottage cheese (ricotta)
  • Oats
  • Sesame and sunflower seeds

Omega-3 to control hormones

Another nutrient that could help reduce menopausal symptoms caused by hormones is omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids work alongside serotonin and reduce the negative effects on cardiovascular health.

Thus, you should increase your consumption of:

  • Oily fish
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts
  • Canola or rapeseed oil

In conclusion, we hope that these tips help you counteract the symptoms of menopause. A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise is the best way to cope with this stage of your life.

 
  • N. Úbeda, M. Basagoiti, E. Alonso-Aperte y G. Varela-Moreiras. Hábitos alimentarios, estado nutricional y estilos de vida en una población de mujeres menopáusicas españolas. Departamento de Nutrición, Bromatología y Tecnología de los Alimentos. Facultad de Farmacia. Universidad CEU San Pablo.
    Madrid. España. Nutr Hosp. 2007;22(3):313-21 ISSN 0212-1611
  • Riobó Serván P.eds. Mujer adulta y menopausia. En Ortega R M, eds Nutrición en la población femenina. Desde la infancia a la edad adulta., Madrid, Ergón, 2007; 93-100
  • Varela G. Guía de alimentación y menopausia. Madrid. Italfarmaco, S.A. 2008.
  • Aranceta J, Puleva Food, Senc. Guía práctica sobre hábitos alimentarios y salud. 2002.