Menopause brings on a range of uncomfortable symptoms. From hot flashes to mood swings, symptoms can range in severity from mildly frustrating to almost unbearable. Whatever your personal experience with menopause, you’ve likely tried at least a couple of techniques to alleviate your discomfort.
While it isn’t a cure-all, there’s evidence to suggest that modifications to your diet could provide some relief for menopause symptoms. Here are some foods you can eat to reduce symptoms, and, just as importantly, some foods you should avoid.
What to Eat to Alleviate Menopause
Menopause causes hormone changes that include a natural decline in the reproductive hormone progesterone. Because progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone, you may find it more difficult to fall and stay asleep during menopause.
If you’re not lactose-intolerant, dairy products may help. They’re high in amino acids, which have been linked to better sleep. As an added bonus, they’re also rich in vitamins D and K, which contribute to bone health. During and after menopause, bone density decreases, putting women at a greater risk for fractures, but dairy products may reduce that risk.
Fruits & Vegetables
There are dozens of reasons to incorporate more nutrient-rich fruits and veggies into your diet, and easing menopause symptoms is just one of them. Research has shown that diets high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber are associated with reduced hot flashes, so stocking up on produce has its perks.
Chia and flax seeds and fatty fish such as mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients may alleviate night sweats. (Despite some anecdotal reports, omega-3 has not been proven to reduce hot flashes.) If you prefer to skip the seafood, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may be worth considering.
Found in soybeans, barley, chickpeas, berries, plums, and green and black tea, these compounds act similarly to estrogens in the body. It’s suspected they may alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, though the science on this is not yet settled. *If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, please speak to your physician about phytoestrogens in your diet.
What to Limit or Avoid to Control Menopause Symptoms
Whenever possible, try to prioritize whole grains over heavily processed alternatives. Processed foods like white breads and pasta raise blood sugar more rapidly, and high blood sugar is associated with more severe menopause symptoms.
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and may therefore worsen sleep-related symptoms. It also appears to lead to more intense (though not more frequent) hot flashes.
The verdict is out on whether or not caffeine can contribute to hot flashes. Some women feel that their caffeine habit actually reduces their symptoms, while others believe it may worsen them. If your hot flashes are severe, it may be worth temporarily cutting out your daily java to see if caffeine is a trigger.
Spicy & Salty Foods
It should come as no surprise that eating spicy foods could worsen hot flashes. Yet the evidence is limited, so, as with caffeine, you may consider temporarily avoiding spicy foods to see if they contribute to your symptoms. The science on excess salt is much clearer. It can elevate your risk of high blood pressure and lead to reduced bone density, two concerns for menopausal women. You should limit your use of salt to healthy levels.
If your menopause symptoms are interfering with your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out to our providers. Schedule an appointment online or by calling (770) 385-8954.