QUESTION: I know women's bodies go through lots of changes during menopause, but I don't hear much about how that affects my diet. What should I be getting more of? Less of? Are there any foods I should avoid altogether? ANSWER: When a woman reaches menopause, dietary requirements do change, but the changes aren't dramatic. Iron needs are lower, since iron is no longer lost in menstrual blood, and recommendations for calcium and Vitamin D intake are higher -- we lose calcium from our bones as we age, and vitamin D helps the body absorb it. Women and men over die age of 50 need more vitamin B12 (it maintains healthy nerve cells), since older bodies produce less of the hormone that helps us absorb it. The need tor Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, also increases (people over 50 tend to get less in their diets); it's important for the nervous and immune systems. As for cutting things out of your diet, consider eliminating alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods if you're experiencing hot flashes. There's no concrete proof that reducing intake of these lessens hot flashes, but many menopausal women claim it does. Another option is to try black cohosh, an herb sold as a dietary supplement. Preliminary research is encouraging, bur its long-term safety hasn't been established. Talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements since they may interact with other medications you're taking.
QUESTION: I've heard that there's a connection between eating soy and easing menopause symptoms. Is that true?
ANSWER: Some studies suggest soy may lessen the frequency of hot flashes because of its phytoestrogens -- plant compounds that act similarly to human estrogen in the body. The idea is that as levels of human estrogen decline, estrogen from soy foods can function as a natural hormone replacement.
Even if soy has no effect on menopause symptoms, making it a regular part of your diet has major advantages. When used to replace fatty dairy products or meats, soy foods can lower saturated fat intake, which then reduces the risk of heart disease. After menopause, the loss of estrogen raises women's risk for coronary artery disease (which is high: It's the leading killer of women).
QUESTION: What can I do to prevent the weight gain that often comes with menopause?
ANSWERS: Lowered estrogen levels during and after menopause change where you store fat -- you're more likely to gain weight around the stomach. Also, as you age, you need fewer calories -- or more physical activity -- to maintain a healthy weight because metabolism slows down. You can't fight hormonal changes, but the two things you can do are to increase exercise and to he mindful of what you eat.
Although there are no magic exercises to make "menopause belly" disappear, adding just a half-hour walk to your day burns calories. And watch that sweet tooth -- it can go into overdrive when hormones are raging. Instead of scarfing down cookies or indulging in ice cream, satisfy the dessert urge with puddings made with skim milk or soymilk, fruit desserts, whole-wheat gingerbread topped with applesauce (Hodgson Mill makes a fantastic mix), frozen fruit bars and oatmeal cookies made with vegetable oil instead of butter or margarine, which contain saturated fats. These habits will see you through your menopause symptoms and help you live a healthier, happier life for many years to come. Nutrients NeededIrritability, erratic periods, hot flashes: If you're experiencing these and are in the age range of 40 to 52, call your doctor. There's a test (FSH, for follicle-stimulating hormone) that can help determine if you're in menopause. The sooner you know, the sooner you can start treating the symptoms. Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and author. She holds a doctorate in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is the director of the doctoral program in health leadership. Source: Vegetarian Times. Powered by Yellowbrix.
Source: Health & Wellness