We all know that eating a balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, healthy fats and carbs is the pathway to optimizing your health. But if you are a woman in menopause, what you eat can also help manage your hormones and stave off symptoms.
As we age, our bodies require less of some things (like iron and folic acid), and more of others (protein and calcium).
Nutrients for Women in Menopause
We asked Jessica Gingrich, Gennev Menopause Health Coach and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to help us understand how women can manage their evolving nutritional needs to thrive through menopause. Jessica shared that “nourishing your body each day with regular, nutrient-dense foods can help you feel your best in a variety of ways. Regularly fueling with meals and snacks that include protein and fiber will help avoid blood sugar spikes and dips that can affect your energy and mood. Including a rainbow of colors in your diet will infuse your body with antioxidants and nutrients that are needed by your cells each day. And including enough protein at your meals and after workouts will ensure that your muscles have the building blocks they need to stay strong.” Jessica’s key guidelines are as follows:
- Include 20 grams of protein at every meal. Getting enough protein is a key ingredient in maintaining lean muscle mass as you age which helps support your metabolism, makes physical activity easier, and protects your joints. Good sources include fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, tofu/tempeh, nuts, seeds, beans, low-fat dairy products.
- Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day. Fiber keeps you feeling more satisfied for longer, which can help prevent weight gain. It can also minimize common midlife digestive issues like constipation and bloating. Good sources are vegetables, beans, fruits, whole grains.
- Limit sugar to 20 grams of “added sugar” a day. You may be surprised by some sources like healthy cereals, yogurt, and energy bars. Too much added sugar—not the natural kind found in fruits and vegetables—can worsen menopause symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, and hot flashes.
Four Key Supplements for Women in Midlife
Eating a healthy diet is the first step to ensure that you get important nutrients that will help you manage menopause symptoms and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. However, sometimes you need a little extra, and supplements can help. Here are four key supplements that women in midlife should be taking:
- Vitamin D: It’s vital for bone health and plays a role in immune function and mood. It may also help protect your heart and reduce your chances of developing hypertension and diabetes. Recommended daily intake: 600 to 1,000 IUs (international units) a day in the form of vitamin D3.
- Calcium: It’s a building block of your bones. Together with vitamin D, it slows bone loss and keeps your bones strong as you age. Recommended daily intake: 1000 mg for women 50 and under and 1200 mg for women over 50.
- Magnesium: This mineral supports normal nerve and muscle function. It can also affect sleep, anxiety, headaches, joint pain, and digestion. Recommended daily intake: 320 mg.
- Omega 3s: These healthy fats support cardiovascular and brain health and improve moisture and comfort in the skin and eyes. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get enough from your diet, especially if you don’t regularly consume cold-water fish like salmon. Recommended daily intake: 1,100 mg of EPA and DHA combined. Aim to get about half of that from dietary sources, and half from supplement.
Finally, Jessica stresses that women practice mindful eating. “Our lives are overloaded with external demands and stimulation. It can be hard to pause and reflect on nourishment every time food goes into our mouth. Taking time to non-judgmentally reflect on your diet can be helpful in identifying any new trends that have emerged – from noticing that you are nibbling on the leftovers from your kids plates without realizing it to acknowledging that the nuts you are adding to your oatmeal are really satisfying you.”
If you need help making healthy lifestyle changes like these or others, you might want to enlist the services of a Gennev health coach who can guide you in developing a personalized nutrition plan.
Author: Michele Stanten