In my work as a nutritionist I speak to so many women about the ways they can improve their diet and support menopause symptoms at the same time. Here are my 10 top tips:
1. Increase fibre-rich foods
Fibre is so important for normal gut health and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Focus on oats and beta-glucans like rye and wheat. Try a bowl of porridge oats and top them up with nuts, seeds and your favourite dried or fresh fruit for a filling and satisfying breakfast.
2. Limit alcohol
Alcohol has the potential to exacerbate existing menopausal symptoms like low mood, weight gain, sleep disturbances and hot flushes. Try alcohol-free alternatives like kombucha or fill up a large gin glass with sparkling water or mixed cordial and add lime, lemon, pomegranate seeds and mint with plenty of ice for a refreshing, alcohol-free drink.
3. Limit caffeine
Caffeine can elevate cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone), which can in turn impact how weight is dispersed around your abdomen. It can also play havoc with your sleep quality and anxiety levels, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation. Alternatively, try herbal tea as part of your morning routine, or even a hot cocoa or matcha.
4. Make time for breakfast
A protein-rich breakfast works to balance your blood sugar and give you a burst of energy – and it doesn’t have to take ages to make or enjoy! My favourites are easy egg muffins or even a chia pudding you can make the night before.
5. Increase dairy (or alternatives)
There’s an increased risk of osteoporosis and decreased bone density as you age, so maintaining a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet is crucial. Cow’s milk contains calcium and protein, plus all the nine essential amino acids. If you prefer a dairy-free drink, choose a fortified plant milk to increase the nutritional value. It’s important to note that organic varieties can’t be fortified.
6. Turn down the spice
Spicy foods can trigger hot flushes, so try mixing up your usual repertoire by switching chilli and hot peppers for flavours like cumin, ginger and garlic – they still delivery on flavour without bringing up your core temperature!
7. Eat more oily fish
Studies have shown that eating foods with omega-3 can contribute to normal neurological health, while reducing inflammation and hot flushes. If you’re a fish-eater then go for just two portions of oily fish (like sardines, trout or mackerel) a week. If you have a plant-based diet, choose brussels sprouts, chia seeds, hemp seeds or walnuts. You’ll have to eat these more regularly to achieve the same benefits as the fish.
8. Pack in magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium is one of those wonder supplements that has an impact on our health in multiple ways. You can eat magnesium-rich foods like almonds, eggs and leafy greens and also use Epsom salts (which break down into magnesium and sulfate) in the bath to help with muscle ache, sleep issues and general fatigue. Magnesium can be so beneficial to support energy, stress and anxiety levels and can be easily slotted into your daily routine.
9. Add in a portion of flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are a fantastic food option for menopausal women, as they’re full of lignans (a polyphenolic compound found in some plants). These lignans can mimic oestrogen levels to some degree, so they can potentially help moderate menopause symptoms. Flaxseeds are also a great source of fibre and omega-3. You could incorporate them into your baking or simply sprinkle milled flaxseeds on top of yoghurt, berries and nuts.
10. Eat a variety of foods containing live bacteria
Live bacteria can positively populate the gut microbiome, which has a knock-on effect on so many crucial factors in your everyday lifestyle, like sleep, weight management, mood and even nutrient absorption. Some great foods contain live bacteria are natural yoghurt, kefir (a fermented probiotic yoghurt drink), miso and pickled cucumbers (when made without vinegar).
My chia seed breakfast bowl recipe
This breakfast bowl is the perfect way to start the day, it’s rich in protein and fibre to help keep you feeling energised and fuller for longer.
The chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3, which may help to manage hot flushes throughout the menopause.
- 6 Tbsp chia seeds
- 18 Tbsp milk
- ½ Tsp vanilla extract
For the compote:
- ½ Tsp vanilla extract
- Zest of half an orange
- Juice of half an orange
- 250g fresh or frozen berries
- 1 Tbsp yoghurt
- Drizzle of honey (optional)
- 1. Begin by combining the chia seeds with the milk and vanilla extract. Ensure you’ve stirred this really well and then place it in the fridge for around 20 minutes to thicken. You should expect to see a loose, porridge-like consistency.
- 2. Next, add the berries to a pan over a low light and stir in the vanilla extract, orange zest and juice and mix well. Cook over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes until the berries have softened. Ensure you’re stirring regularly to prevent burning.
- 3. Remove the chia from the fridge and serve into a breakfast bowl, finish off by adding the yoghurt, berry compote and honey (if you’re using it) to your breakfast bowl. You could also mix up the toppings with nut butters, fresh fruit, cinnamon, nuts or seeds too.
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