How Diet and Exercise can Help Relieve Menopausal Symptoms Naturally
Unfortunately, for women, the menopause is a natural part of ageing and for this reason is often dismissed as something that should simply be ‘endured’. Yet some of the symptoms can be severe and extremely debilitating, with many women experiencing hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, brain fog, loss of libido, mood swings, bloating, sore breasts, low energy, and difficulty sleeping, not to mention the higher risks of developing osteoporosis. These symptoms when experienced individually, or in tandem, can be highly distressing and cause issues both personally and professionally.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can relieve some of the symptoms of menopause, however, HRT is not always suitable or made available to all women, so it’s important to consider diet and lifestyle as a way to alleviate symptoms.
A few simple lifestyle changes can help lessen menopausal symptoms and make your menopause a little easier to deal with.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
It’s essential that you maintain a balanced diet consisting of the four main food groups – fruit & vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, and dairy. Cutting out entire food groups such as dairy or carbs will only deprive your body of the nutrients it needs. Instead, keep it balanced with an increase in protein to ensure your diet is really beneficial.
Having a balanced diet will help keep your bones strong and healthy by providing your body with all the vitamins and minerals that it needs – the carbs will help your energy levels and dairy is essential for bone health.
The more balanced your diet is, the less likely you are to experience severe menopausal symptoms.
Cutting back on sweet treats and alcohol will also help, as these can contribute to more rapid weight gain and serious conditions such as diabetes.
2. Incorporate Foods Containing Natural Estrogen into Your Diet
As women enter perimenopause and then menopause, estrogen levels decline, so it’s beneficial to add foods to your diet that contain high levels of phyto or plant estrogen so that you are naturally replacing the estrogen that is being lost.
Foods including soya milk, tofu, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds all have natural plant estrogen in them, and these can easily be incorporated into a balanced diet. Choose recipes such as a Tofu stir fry to ensure you top up your estrogen levels.
3. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking
Cutting back on alcohol is never a bad idea when it comes to improving your health, but it’s extra beneficial as you get older. Alcohol is calorific and so weight gain will be inevitable if you don’t cut back.
Excess alcohol has also been proven to increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, so cutting down will help your body stay stronger and lessen some of the effects of the menopause.
If you’re a smoker then try and give this habit up. Smoking prevents bone density from building up and has a toxic effect on your bones. Not to mention, the potential respiratory issues that it can cause.
4. Increase Your Calcium and Vitamin D Intake
As mentioned, there’s an undeniably strong connection between osteoporosis and the menopause, with older women at increased risk of developing weaker bones.
Calcium and vitamin D are both proven to help increase bone strength, so adding more foods to your diet that contain these vitamins and minerals can be a big help. Foods to consider include dairy products, fresh sardines and salmon, and leafy greens.
If you’re struggling to incorporate more vitamin D and calcium into your diet, then you can choose supplements instead.
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise alongside a balanced diet are the two best things you can do to get through the menopause.
Try to do something every day – even just a brisk 30-minute walk can make a big difference. Be sure to put emphasis on strength and resistance training in your routine. Strength training can help speed up your decreasing metabolism and therefore help you burn fat, even while resting. Lifting some small dumbbells or incorporating squats into your workout several times a week can help to reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis by keeping your bones strong and healthy. You can even use your bodyweight to exercise in the form of yoga or Pilates for a good strength workout.
Any increase in exercise should be balanced by drinking plenty of water and getting lots of sleep, so your body can stay hydrated and well rested.
As you enter the menopause, it’s important that you make lifestyle changes that are not just short term, but that you can maintain long term.
Focusing on your health, exercising, getting enough sleep, and following a nutrient-dense balanced diet will help you feel your best during menopause.
The Fitness Room Honeybourne offers a friendly, safe gym environment, personal training, classes, meal plans and support to help you on your health and fitness journey.
Call us on 07540 060269 for a free consultation and to find out more about how exercise and a healthy, balanced lifestyle can help you deal with your menopausal symptoms.