Controlling the menopause at Christmas is something that all women of a certain age may need to consider. Diet can play a large part in how menopausal women cope with the changes the body goes through during this time. Good nutrition can help reduce certain health conditions that may develop as a result of the menopause, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. With the festive season upon us once again, implementing these dietary changes may seem unrealistic. The good news is that with careful planning and monitoring, it is still possible to enjoy many foods during the Christmas period to enjoy a healthier and happier menopause.
It is essential during the menopause that you eat a variety of foods in order to get the nutrients you need. A recommended diet for menopausal women should include the following three groups.
It is well known that a loss of bone mass can accelerate as a result of the menopause. An increase in calcium intake during the menopause is therefore highly recommended for bone health. From the age of 50 onwards an adequate intake of 1,000 milligrams per day to 1,200mg is usually recommended. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk, (the lower fat varieties) and tinned fish such as sardines and salmon. Calcium can also be found in green leafy vegetables like cabbage and broccoli.
Your daily fat intake should provide only 25% – 35% of your overall diet, with saturated fats limited to less than 7%. Fats found in foods like full fat milk, cheese and meat when eaten in excessive amounts can lead to heart disease. Opting for the low fat versions instead like skimmed milk, low fat spread, low fat cream and leaner cuts of meat. This will reduce your risk of heart disease and can lower your cholesterol levels.
Vitamins and minerals
Due to hectic lifestyles, many women are not taking the sufficient vitamins and minerals required for a healthy and balanced diet. Findings show that eating a diet consisting of plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce your risk of illness. Past studies have shown a high proportion of women over the age of 50 fail to eat the recommended five potions of fruit and veg a day. As a result they are not realising the benefits vitamins can have in alleviating symptoms of the menopause. With weight fluctuation being a major side effect of the menopause, eating foods rich in fibre like apples, spinach and raspberries or carbohydrates like whole grain breads, cereals and pasta will help you feel fuller for longer and may help you maintain your weight.
Vitamin B in the form of B6 supplements is usually recommended for women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome. It is thought Vitamin B6 may also have a role in lowering harmful homocysteine levels, which have been linked to heart disease and osteoporosis. Vitamin D found in proteins like oily fish and dairy products can help to maintain bone health. Vitamin E has been know to help alleviate night flushes, a common symptom of the menopause.
Both alcohol and caffeine can worsen symptoms of the menopause like hot flushes and may increase your risk of osteoporosis. Significantly reducing your intake of these products or eliminating them entirely can go some way to reducing your risk of uncomfortable symptoms and health concerns.
Although not all symptoms of the menopause can be prevented, the foods you eat can help to alleviate and ease some common symptoms. No one can deny Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry. But with little changes to your festive palette like opting for the leaner meats, more vegetables and low fat cream to go with your mince pies and reducing your alcohol consumption can all play a part in easing menopausal symptoms and allowing you to fully enjoy your Christmas holiday.
To learn more about the menopause and HRT visit http://www.healthexpress.co.uk/hormonereplacementtherapy_info.html
Dr Bram Brons is an independent GP and member of the medical team at HealthExpress, the UK’s leading online clinic. You can read more from him on the menopause, hormone replacement therapy advice and treatment options at http://www.healthexpress.co.uk