Couple Working Out at the Gym

Menopause is a tricky and often trying time for women.  Hormones go crazy, the body starts changing in ways that are completely foreign, and doctors have trouble figuring out the best treatments.  Why?  Because no woman is exactly the same as another, and because hormones are difficult to adjust properly, the right combination of therapy is tough to get.  To help, it is essential to eat the right foods.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the usual way to help women attain hormone levels that are normal for them.  This helps reduce menopause complications like hot flashes and assists in ensuring the body can deal with the disappearance of the menstrual cycle.  There is a long period of adjustment during which HRT levels get increased and decreased until the effects even out to a useful level.

In recent years, interest in the idea of using phytoestrogens, which are found in plant foods, as a complete replacement for HRT or, at least, a supplemental treatment has increased.  After looking at the treatments, it has been concluded that such dietary inclusions need more study to ensure full replacement using phytoestrogens.  However, when done right, using phytoestrogens via diet has helped a number of women.  The key is to ensure testing is done frequently enough to verify that the dietary approach is working.  Hormones aren’t the only thing that needs attention.

Diseases Associated with Menopause

The onset of menopause comes with increased risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, and a number of additional diseases.  Those are the big two, but hot flashes, excessively dry skin, and mood swings are also frequently irritating to deal with.  Dry skin is fairly easy to fix through hydration, as that is almost always the cause.  It is possible to prevent osteoporosis and breast cancer, as well as some of the other complications through diet and exercise.

Even though certain symptoms make the idea of exercise, let alone doing it, undesirable, it is important to get some anyway.  Even low impact strolling for the sake of moving around helps.  Remember to bring water to ensure hydration.  To keep osteoporosis at bay, it is necessary to get enough calcium, iron, and Vitamin D, which are all necessary for good bone health.  Breast cancer risk, like any other cancer, can be lowered by eating the right foods, too.

What to Eat

Interestingly enough, a well-balanced diet can help reduce the chance of developing all of the diseases associated with menopause.  Each meal should have an amount of protein from vegetable or animal sources.  When meats are chosen, they should be lean meats.  Vegetables to get a lot of include:

  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kelp
  • Spinach

To increase phytoestrogen intake to attempt a decrease in HRT needs, focus on flaxseed.  Though soy has gotten a lot of headlines for its phytoestrogen content, 100g flaxseed contains 379,380 mcg versus only 104,000 mcg in the same amount of soybeans.  Flaxseed is delicious in yogurt with raspberries or blackberries, which is a great way to get that much needed calcium during menopause.  It can also be added to things like banana bread, muffins, and other savory or sweet recipes.

As with any other diet, ensure that the right amount of calories are eaten.  It is also important to maintain a healthy body weight during menopause.  Body weights that are too low or too high can increase risk for the development of menopause related diseases.  While these changes are sometimes challenging, they make a world of difference when dealing with menopause.

Last Updated: Sunday, June 30, 2013