What worsens menopause symptoms?
Diet and exercise can influence how we feel, both physically and mentally. Naturally, it can also influence your menopause symptoms.
Having an increased Body Mass Index (BMI) can affect your menopausal symptoms, as well as increasing your risk of other diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Certain foods may trigger hot flushes such as spicy foods. Drinking alcohol is also a culprit and is best avoided in the evenings.
Diets high in processed foods and sugar can also affect your mood and energy levels so try eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and pulses.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Try to increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D. We need calcium for our bones but we need vitamin D to absorb the calcium! Calcium is found in lots of foods; some examples are almonds, kale, lentils, milk, yoghurts and cheese. A good source of calcium can be found in canned sardines and salmon.
Vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin) mainly comes from the sun. Unfortunately, in the UK we can only get enough vitamin D from the sun between May and September. It is absorbed through our skin so keep your arms uncovered but be careful not to burn!
Getting vitamin D from our diet can be quite difficult so some foods are fortified with it. Vitamin D is found in oily fish, egg yolk, meat and offal. It is recommended that all adults in the UK take a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10 mcg of Vitamin D, especially during the autumn and winter.
Exercise is really good for our bodies and our general wellbeing. Taking regular exercise outdoors can reduce stress, anger and depression and it can help you sleep better. Another benefit of exercising outdoors is that it’s free! Just a brisk 30 minute walk can make you feel better - try and aim for at least 30 minutes every day.
Weight bearing exercises will help to protect our bones from osteoporosis which is really important during the peri and post menopause. Yoga will help with flexibility and can also help with anxiety and hot flushes.
If you know what triggers your menopausal symptoms, then try to avoid that particular food, drink or situation if possible. You may find that you have night sweats when you have been drinking alcohol or have eaten a spicy meal. If someone at home or work makes you feel stressed or anxious then anticipate this - try and avoid conflict, take some deep breaths and count to 10!
If you are not sure what triggers some of your symptoms then keep a diary.
This is the fifth in our series on Menopause. Check out our other articles to get a full understanding of what the Menopause means for many women.
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