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: :   Lifestyle Diet and Nutrition Food Choices: Eat Healthy, Be Healthy

Food Choices: Eat Healthy, Be Healthy

If your general eating habits are not as healthy as they should be, menopause is the ideal time to re-examine your present lifestyle. This is a period of your life that puts you at higher risk for heart disease, bone loss, and weight gain, and for those reasons alone, a healthy diet and exercise plan should be priorities.

Food Choices

For many women, eliminating certain foods (such as caffeine, spicy foods) and adding new ones to their diets can avoid or alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, while also minimizing weight gain. In addition, giving up smoking, reducing intake of alcoholic beverages, and adding an exercise routine at least three times a week will help offset osteoporosis (the thinning of bones and loss of bone density) that can have serious consequences long after menopause ends.

Reinventing Your Diet
Drinking sugary beverages and eating products with refined sugar (most candy, cakes, and ice cream, for example) should be eliminated or greatly reduced. This will decrease leaching, or escape, of calcium from the bones through urination. For a healthier solution, drink water or herbal or green tea (on ice to avoid triggering hot flashes), and consume less animal foods and more vegetable sources. Soy products, green, leafy, and cruciferous vegetables, and even licorice root extract could help alleviate menopausal discomforts and symptoms.

Since hormone replacement therapy has shown to have significant health risks and should only be considered after a thorough discussion with your physician, choosing a diet naturally rich in phytoestrogens may help balance estrogen levels in the body. Phytoestrogens are plant based and mimic estrogen when ingested. By attaching themselves to estrogen receptors, they protect against some of the harmful forms of estrogen-like substances, may help reduce hot flashes, inhibit osteoporosis, and help keep the vaginal walls healthy. At the same time, they can decrease risks of some cancers.  

Foods high in phytoestrogen are soy, ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, nuts, whole grains, apples, fennel, celery, parsley, alfalfa, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, watercress, radishes, and collard greens.  

Stir-fried tofu or tempeh with colorful vegetables and low-sodium soy sauce makes a wonderful, healthy protein alternative! Add some brown rice and you've got a great meal.HFN 018 FoodChoices 2 10517173

A diet high in soy has been shown to help protect bones, but if you're not used to soy, just as when starting a high-fiber diet, add it into your diet slowly; too much can cause intestinal distress. Try starting with soy milk in your cereal and decaf coffee or a few cubes of tofu or a handful or edamame beans in a salad. As in everything else, moderation is key; don't overdo the addition of phytoestrogens into your diet.

Foods That Work for You
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, parsley, and the darker lettuces (like romaine) are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K1 and boron. Good amounts of vitamin K are found in broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, green tea, asparagus, oats, whole wheat, and fresh green peas. Vitamin K is essential to bone health.

There have been reports that licorice helps some women with hot flashes.  If you’re a licorice lover and jumping for joy, not so fast.  It’s the licorice root extract, not the black candy form, that has been reported as possibly helpful.  But with the root come serious caveats about negative effects on blood pressure, headaches, liver and kidney, and water retention.  So you can continue to eat licorice candy—without any thought that it may decrease your flashes—but also be aware that too much of this sweet often causes intestinal issues.

Keep It Natural
Weight gain during menopause is a problem for many women, but laxatives, appetite suppressants, and stimulants should be avoided. Opt for natural and safer herbal preparations that contain herbs and vitamins to stimulate metabolism and hormonal balances. Minimize your salt and fat intake, especially from fast foods and desserts, and fill up on lean protein such as broiled chicken and fish, and steamed or stir-fried vegetables, whole grains, and fruit.♀

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