Menopause and Good Nutrition
- Author: Thursday, October 14th, 2010
What Are Some Basic Dietary Guidelines for Menopause?
During menopause, eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. Since women's diets are often low in iron and calcium, follow these guidelines:
Get enough calcium. Eating and drinking two to fourservings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in your daily diet. Calcium is found in dairy products, fish with bones such as sardines and canned salmon, broccoli, and legumes. An adequate intake of calcium for women aged 51 and older is 1,200 milligrams per day.
Pump up your iron intake. Eating at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough iron in your daily diet. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products. The recommended dietary allowance for iron in older women is 8 milligrams a day.
Get enough fiber. Help yourself to foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Most adult women should get about 20 grams of fiber a day.
Eat fruits and vegetables. Include at least two to fourservings of fruits and three to fiveservings of vegetables in your daily diet.
Read labels. Use the package label information to help you to make the best selections for a healthy lifestyle.
Drink plenty of water. This will help you stay hydrated. It's impossible to determine how much water we all need, because this depends on many factors such as how much you eat, the climate you live in, and how active you are. As a general rule, drinking eight glasses of water every day fulfills most everyone's daily requirement.
Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight by cutting down on portion sizes and reducing foods high in fat, not by skipping meals. A registered dietitian or your doctor can help you determine your ideal body weight.
Reduce foods high in fat. Fat should provide 30% or less of your total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 10% of your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats, whole milk, ice cream, and cheese. Limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams (mg) or less per day. Also try to limit your intake of trans fats, found in vegetable oils, many baked goods, and some margarines. Trans fat also raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease.
Use sugar and salt in moderation. Too much sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure. Also, go easy on smoked, salt-cured, and charbroiled foods -- these foods contain high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to cancer.
Limit alcohol intake. Women should limit their consumption of alcohol to one or fewer drinks a day.
What Foods Might Reduce Menopause Symptoms?
Plant-based foods that contain isoflavones (plant estrogens) work in the body like a weak form of estrogen and may help relieve menopause symptoms. Some may help lower cholesterol levels and have been suggested to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Isoflavones can be found in foods such as soy products like tofu and soymilk.
Should I Avoid Certain Foods During Menopause?
If you are experiencing hot flashes during menopause, you may find that avoiding certain "trigger" foods and beverages -- spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol -- may lessen the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Should I Take Supplements After Menopause?
Because there is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen after menopause and the development of osteoporosis, the following supplements, combined with a healthy diet, may help prevent the onset of this condition.
Calcium. If you think you need to take a supplement to get enough calcium, check with your doctor first. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are good forms of calcium supplements. Be careful not to get more than 2,000 mg of calcium a day very often. That amount can increase your chance of developing kidney problems.
Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. People aged 51 to 70 should get 400 IU each day and those over age 70 should get 600 IU. More than 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day is not recommended because it may harm your kidneys and even make your bones weaker.