If you have read our ‘top tips’ for a menopause-friendly work environment and are ready to take action, then this is for you. Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life, but at the same time is characterised by a range of symptoms that can have a very dis-orientating impact. Whilst menopause can’t be avoided, changing your diet to reflect the hormonal change in your body, can help manage the symptoms and improve overall health. As a food scientist, nutrition expert and having experienced this myself, I can attest to the benefits of a change in diet for women going through menopause.
The impact of good nutrition on menopause symptoms cannot be overstated. Here are some tips for menopause that can help women stay healthy and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases:
Increase Calcium and Vitamin D Intake
During menopause, women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones. Calcium and vitamin D work together to build strong bones and reduce the risk of fractures. Therefore, it is crucial to increase calcium and vitamin D intake to support bone health. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, leafy greens, and fortified foods like tofu and orange juice. Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight exposure, fatty fish such as mackerel, egg yolks and fortified foods like milk and cereal.
Consume More Phytoestrogens
One of the significant changes during menopause is the decline in the body’s production of estrogen. This can lead to several health issues including weight gain, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Consuming more phytoestrogens can help reduce the severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soy products, legumes, flaxseeds, lentils, chickpeas and whole grains.
Increase Intake of Healthy Fats
As women age, their risk of heart disease increases. Consuming omega 3 fatty acids (healthy fats) can help reduce this risk. Foods rich in healthy fats include fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil. Omega-3s have also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help alleviate joint pain and stiffness, a common symptom of the menopause.
Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars
Processed foods and added sugars play a very significant role in the ‘menopause middle’ weight gain (which is almost entirely made of sugar) and increase the risk of chronic diseases. Women going through menopause should limit their intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and sweets. The belly is almost entirely made by sugar!
During menopause, women may experience hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms that can cause dehydration. It is essential to drink plenty of water and other fluids to stay hydrated and reduce the severity of these symptoms. Furthermore, often times when we think we are hungry, we are just de-hydrated so try taking in water first, before reaching for a snack.
Making Nutritional Coaching Accessible
Providing nutrition information in a corporate environment can have a significant impact on all employees’ health and well-being, not just those going through menopause. As an expert in nutrition, I believe that it is important for companies to offer healthy food choices in the workplace and educate employees on the benefits of good nutrition – regardless of whether they are menopausal or not. Of course, having access to this information is a great start, but true value will be in applying these principles to making easy delicious meals that can be incorporated in daily lives. Knowing how to achieve this in a busy work life is often the key challenge and organisations should aim to incorporate this advice and coaching as part of their wellness programme to not only help the employees but help the organisation to reduce sickness, attrition and overall brand value.
To find out more about how you can help ALL your employees understand about the role of nutrition as well as practical resources to make an impact on their health – get in touch.
Written by Kumud Gandhi – Food Scientist, Nutritionists, writer & broadcaster. Kumud Gandhi is the science lead at The Cooking Academy and is a pioneer of science based nutritional coaching to support people achieve productivity and wellness through nutritional management. She leads the ‘Wellness in the workplace’ division at The Cooking Academy
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.