Written by Kayla Henningsen, Dietitian & PhD Candidate
Menopause can be challenging to navigate, but with the help of good nutrition, you may find yourself overcoming the challenges with ease. There are several key principles of nutrition that should be focused on during menopause to optimize your health and well-being for now and the long haul.
Maintain Your Muscle with Protein
Healthy muscles are incredibly important, especially during menopause. Ensuring that your muscle is well maintained can help to:
- Provide protection to your bones, which may become compromised during menopause (we’ll dive further into this shortly)
- Allow for optimal metabolic function and aid in weight control
- Allows for optimal exercise ability to further assist with weight control and to provide mental health benefits
You can ensure that you are providing your body with optimal amounts of protein to maintain your muscle mass by including regular portions of high protein foods (i.e., meat, poultry, fish, yoghurt, eggs) throughout the day at each meal.
Optimise Your Bone Health with Calcium
As previously mentioned, your bones may have greater risk of injury during and after menopause. The decrease in estrogen production within the body during and after menopause is directly linked to a decrease in bone mineral density, resulting in the bones becoming weaker and more prone to breakage. It is recommended that people of menopausal age should be eating 1300mg of calcium per day! It may sound like a large number; however, 1300mg of calcium is equivalent to only 2 cups of milk, 1 serve of yoghurt, and a couple of slices of cheddar cheese per day!
Good Versus Bad Cholesterol
You’ve probably heard of the terms good and bad cholesterol, but you may be wondering what this means and how this relates to menopause. It is well known that having greater levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Research has also shown that menopause can decrease HDL cholesterol levels. To combat this, it is recommended that monounsaturated fats are consumed in favour of saturated fats. This can help to optimise HDL levels! Foods rich in monounsaturated fat include:
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
Combat Those Pesky Hot Flushes
The last recommendation is to include soy-based products (i.e., soy milk, soy cheese) which may help to combat hot flushes! Research has shown that a compound called genistein within soy products can suppress luteinizing hormone within people experiencing menopause, which helps to reduce hot flushes from occurring.
After completing a Bachelor of Health Science at The University of Queensland, Kayla made the move to Melbourne to study a Master of Dietetics at Monash University. Since then Kayla has continued her study at Monash University by undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy in Gastroenterology and Extreme’s Physiology. Kayla’s gut health research has gained international traction and will be presented at several global conferences and events this year.
If you’d like to discuss how nutrition can help you to navigate menopause, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team at In Stride Health Clinic to arrange an appointment with our Dietitian, Kayla.