What we eat and drink everyday has a direct effect on how we look, behave and how we feel. Whether we feel energized, lethargic, anxious or happy is largely determined by our diet. Our diet also affects our future health including how we age and our susceptibility to diseases. We’re all familiar with the term ‘you are what you eat’, even 2,500 years ago the link between food and health was well known, Hippocrates' famous words ‘let food be thy medicine’ still apply today.
Improving nutrition is important for everyone, especially during menopause.
Women can experience a multitude of debilitating symptoms as well as being at risk of developing coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and weight gain as they age and lose the hormone oestrogen.
Hormonal changes associated with menopause can be associated with weight gain and loss of muscle mass, but aging and poor lifestyle play a big role and excess weight carries serious health risks.
Other considerations for an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) are for women over the age of 55 and those who have early menopause before the age of 45.
Osteoporosis affects 1 in 2 women over the age of 50. From about the age of 35 we lose calcium slowly from our bones and after our periods have stopped women have a much more rapid loss of bone density due to the loss of oestrogen. More women than men will suffer with osteoporosis.
How can a poor nutritional intake affect us?
If we have nutritional deficiencies in our diet, in the short term we probably won’t feel any different, however if the deficiencies are sustained for long periods of time we may expect some of the following symptoms, many of which sound like menopausal symptoms.
- Frequent colds & infections
- Low energy levels/lethargy
- Poor concentration
- Problems with digestion
- Fluctuations in weight
Most of us know what good and bad foods are, but because of our busy lifestyles, it can be very difficult to plan and prepare meals, especially when at work so many of us opt for a shop-bought sandwich or a microwave meal with a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink.
Many of these foods have hidden calories, are packed with sugar and additives that are not great for our bodies. They are not nutritionally well balanced and give us a quick fix followed by a slump of energy levels and the weight can easily creep up.
The long term effects can be to experience some of the symptoms above or even more serious when disease has set in, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer can all be linked to a poor diet. This includes what we eat, drink, smoke and any drugs, everything we consume eventually reaches the cells in our bodies. We can choose for our cells to grow and replenish or to struggle to survive.
The most important part of a healthy diet is nutrient density. Foods which are loaded with vitamins and minerals and whole foods; foods in their most natural form, how nature created them should form the most part of your diet.
People who are healthier eat more whole, fresh foods and less processed, packaged foods which are generally depleted of many of their nutrients and contain additives & chemicals to make them last longer, give them more taste, and look more colourful.
Most people in the western world eat more non-essential than essential foods due to our affluence.
It is estimated that up to 80% of what we consume has no nutritional value whatsoever.
There’s so many recommendations on what we should and shouldn’t eat, what supplements we should have etc that it can be difficult to know where to start so it is really important to first analyze exactly what you are eating.
What you eat & drink during menopause is essential for good health. Provide your body with a good, high nutrient rich diet that will keep you feeling well both physically and mentally, giving you a better chance of reducing symptoms and living a healthier and longer life.
The aim of getting your diet right during the menopause is to have a good quality of life by helping control menopause symptoms like hot flushes & night sweats, lethargy, poor concentration, mood swings etc. It's also to help prevent osteoporosis, keep a healthy heart, maintain a healthy weight, protect against cancer and slow the aging process.