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How does nutrition affect menopause?

by: Dr. Mary Claire Haver

Put Food to Work for You 

Better nutrition can improve menopause symptoms.

Table of Contents

It may seem simple, but what you put in your mouth really does have a profound impact on your health. Food choices can either help or hinder the processes in your body, especially for women in midlife. Some foods help stabilize blood-sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and promote muscle growth and strength, while others can wreak havoc on your body.

Nutrition Affects Menopause Symptoms

The declining estrogen levels during menopause mean that women’s bodies have different nutritional needs than earlier in life. What used to sustain us now needs a little tweaking to keep us strong and moving ahead in our active lives. 

Choosing the “right” foods provides the fuel we need to fight the changes that occur in midlife. Better nutrition can help reduce hot flashes, improve sleep, improve cardiovascular health, increase bone density and muscle mass, and maintain a healthy weight.

What’s on the menu?

Studies show that women who eat diets rich in whole foods have better overall health and fewer menopause symptoms. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats should fill your meals and snacks, while limiting your intake of added sugars, processed carbohydrates, and alcohol. Swap out processed foods (basically anything that comes in a box or a bag at the grocery store) for inflammation-fighting foods and muscle-building proteins. 

Fruits and Vegetables

American dietary guidelines recommend that fruits and vegetables fill half of your plate for each meal. A recent study found that menopausal women who eat more vegetables, fruit, fiber, and soy had a 19 percent reduction in hot flashes. 

Whole Grains

Women in midlife have an increased risk of cardiovascular health problems, and whole grains are a good way to help reduce that risk. Choosing quality, whole-grain carbohydrates packed with fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. 

High-Quality Protein

As estrogen levels drop during perimenopause and menopause, women lose muscle mass which contributes to the growth of visceral body fat. Choosing high-quality proteins like lean meat, fish, nuts, and eggs helps rebuild what is lost. Getting enough protein in your diet has a positive impact on muscle and bone growth, thyroid function, digestion, and sex hormones.

Healthy Fats

Good fats improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Focus on omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish, such as salmon, and seeds, particularly chia and flax.

Making Changes to Your Nutrition

It’s never too late to start making changes for better health. The Galveston Diet is a scientific, evidence-based approach to tackle the hormonal changes that affect wellbeing during menopause. By choosing foods that reduce inflammation and refocusing your body’s source of fuel, you can feel better overall. To see if your current diet is causing or contributing to inflammation, take the Anti-Inflammation quiz.

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Foods That Fight Menopause Symptoms

Anti-Inflammatory Foods:

  • Vegetables including dark leafy greens, asparagus, artichokes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds
  • Spices, especially garlic, ginger and turmeric
  • Berries and other fruits

High-Quality Proteins:

  • Eggs
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Fish, seafood and shellfish
  • Chicken, turkey, pork, lean beef, bison
  • Quinoa, edamame, tofu, tempeh, fortified nutritional yeast

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This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency room immediately.

The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other institution with which the authors are affiliated.

While the information on the site was prepared to provide accurate information regarding topics related to general and specific health issues, the information contained in the site is made available with the express understanding that neither Dr. Mary Claire Haver,, nor the other experts on the site, nor the site itself, nor members of the Site are dispensing medical advice and do not intend any of this information to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.


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