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The Five Best Foods to Help Menopause

When it comes to menopause, some of the common questions many women ask are, why am I gaining weight? how do I lose weight? Why are my hot flashes so bad? Is there anything I can do about these symptoms naturally? The answer? YES! Diet and health are integral factors when it comes to menopause interactions, and changing our diets can not only help reduce 'meno-belly', it can help overall health, longevity, and reduce some nasty symptoms like hot flashes, anxiety and night sweats.

How Food Affects Menopause

It’s no secret that as women age, our bodies and minds go through many changes. Menopause is a natural process that can bring about a variety of physical, emotional and psychological changes. While it’s never easy to go through such a major transition, there are many ways to cope and manage the changes that come with menopause. One of the best ways to do that is to focus on a healthy diet. For women going through menopause, eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential. Eating the right foods can help reduce menopause symptoms like vasomotor symptoms, improve overall health and even help with weight loss.

What Symptoms Can Be Helped By Diet

  • Vasomotor symptoms can be improved, with 'cooling' foods listed below. Additionally, Soy contains compounds (called genistein and daidzen) that have been shown to help control hot flashes in some studies.
  • Anxiety and mood can be helped by avoiding certain foods.
  • Adding and removing foods can help with sleep disturbances.
  • Weight gain (a.k.a. meno belly) can be improved with overall dietary changes.

Top Five Foods to Eat

1. Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and fight free radicals.

2. Whole Grains: Whole grains provide fiber and other important nutrients that can help keep your digestive system healthy and regulate hormones.

3. Healthy Fats: Healthy fats from sources like nuts, seeds and avocados can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.

4. Legumes: Legumes are a great source of protein and fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.

5. Fish: Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve brain health.

In one study, women who followed this (the mediterranean) diet ― with lots of vegetables, whole-grain noodles and olive oil ― were 20% less likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats.

If you're suffering from hot flashes, so-called “cooling foods,” including apples, bananas, spinach, broccoli, eggs and green tea may help you cool down, according to Chinese medicine. Furthermore, the following foods are considered high in phytoestrogens, which have been found to naturally improve menopausal symptoms: Berries, Oats, Barley, Carrots, Apples, Rice, Sesame seeds, Wheat, Dried beans, Lentils, Alfalfa, Mung beans, Wheat germ.

What Should I Avoid?!

In addition to a healthy diet, there are also some foods to avoid when it comes to menopause. Foods high in sugar, like candy and soft drinks, can increase inflammation and can contribute to weight gain. Also, processed foods tend to be high in sodium and unhealthy fats, so it’s best to limit your intake of these, as they can cause bloating and lead to weight gain.

Alcohol has been shown to increase mood and sleep disturbances more aggressively in menopausal women, and high caffeine intake can also increase anxiety, mood, and sleep issues.

What Else Can I Do?

We have some other great tips that can also help improve your menopause symptoms:

  • Drink lots of water and take progesterone. Both of these have a diuretic effect and can help with excess bloating.
  • Take the right supplements. We've written more in depth about that here.
  • Exercise. Studies have found exercise significantly improves overall health, as well as reducing both sleep disturbances, mood irregularities and vasomotor symptoms in menopause.
  • Explore herbal and folk remedies (within reason) - things like dandelion tea, sea moss supplements, and slippery elm are slowly being researched and found to have mild effectiveness at treating various menopause issues! We've written about that here!

Thankfully, many of the foods that help with menopause, are also great for overall health, for gut health (which plays a role in the vaginal microbiome) and overall longevity. In fact, these foods are often touted as being the staple diet of the Blue Zones around the world - places famed for their health and longevity!