Health

Does A Menopause Diet Actually Help Alleviate Symptoms?

Menopause Diet

If you are struggling with menopause symptoms, then you may have heard that your diet can help alleviate symptoms. While this may sound too good, it’s true that there is a link between your diet and your menopause symptoms — and that what you eat can help provide you some menopause relief. So here is what you have to know about your diet and menopause:

The Link Between Diet and Menopause Symptoms

Your microbiome (also known as your gut flora) is a major contributing factor to your health, one that research is only just beginning to explore. They don’t only help you digest your food. They also regulate your immune system, produce vitamins, and fight against bad disease-causing bacteria, just to name a few roles.

Different subgroups of gut microbes play different roles. One group that you might not have heard of is the estrobolome, which controls your estrogen metabolism. These estrobolome microbes are responsible for breaking down estrogen and converting it into a usable form. So why is the estrobolome, and by extension the diet, so important for menopausal women?

Menopause Diet

Well, during menopause, your ovaries produce fluctuating amounts of hormones. Sometimes they make just the right amount, sometimes they produce too little, and sometimes they produce too much. These surges of estrogen are the culprit behind menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, menopausal bloating, and more.

Your estrobolome is also responsible for breaking down this excess estrogen. When these gut microbes aren’t functioning properly, estrogen can build up in your body in an unusable form, worsening menopause symptoms and causing other health problems.

That’s how your gut microbes affect your menopause symptoms. So how does your diet affect your gut microbes? Well, what foods you eat are a major contributing factor to how many different kinds of microbes your gut contains. (For reference, about 60 types of bacteria and fungi are included in your estrobolome.)

As a general rule, you want to have as wide a variety of good microbes as possible in order to reap the most benefits. Certain foods promote the presence of these gut microbes, while others can destroy these good bacteria. In the next section, we’ll offer concrete tips for how to build up your estrobolome — and how to avoid foods that might accidentally destroy it.

Menopause Diet

Tips for a Healthy Menopause Diet

Looking to increase your gut health during menopause? Here are six tips for having a healthy diet during menopause and beyond:

Eat a wide variety of produce

The produce that you eat is perhaps the most significant influencing factor of your gut microbiome. This is because produce contains multiple compounds that encourage diverse gut flora, such as fiber, polyphenols, prebiotics, and probiotics. Moreover, the produce includes not only fruits and vegetables but also herbs and spices as well, so be sure to eat a wide variety to encourage the greatest diversity of gut flora.

Choose quality proteins

Many women experience reduced bone and muscle mass during menopause due to declining estrogen levels. Eating protein, in addition to strength training, will help combat this decline. Protein will also help you feel full for longer, which can help prevent menopause-related weight gain. You can get protein from meat as well as eggs, dairy products, beans, legumes, tofu, and other plant and animal sources.

Don’t forget healthy fats

Fats got a terrible rap for a long time, but now we know that healthy fats are essential to a well-balanced diet. When it comes to your gut health, good fats, such as those in avocados and olive oils, contain short-chain fatty acids that help protect the lining of your gut from inflammation and irritation. By reducing irritation, you will lessen your chances of bloating and stomach aches — two common menopause symptoms.

Menopause Diet

Limit sugars and processed carbs

Sugars and processed carbohydrates might taste delicious, but they are sadly a no-go for gut health. Not only do they destroy the healthy balance of your microbiome, but they also contribute to high blood sugar. If left unchecked, blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance and worsen hot flashes in menopausal women. A little bit of sugar and processed foods is okay, but try to keep it within reasonable limits.

Prioritize whole grains

Instead of processed carbs, choose whole grains instead, such as whole wheat, quinoa, and brown rice. Whole grains promote regular bowel movements, which helps to encourage gut health. Eating a diet rich in whole grains also reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death.

Watch out for spicy foods

Avoiding spicy foods is a common piece of advice for menopausal women. For some women, spicy foods can trigger hot flashes, or make existing ones worse. Spicy foods are also known to irritate your bladder and worsen incontinence, which some women start to experience during menopause as their pelvic muscles weaken. If you think spicy foods might be making either of these symptoms worse, start keeping a symptom log to track any potential connection, and limit your intake of spicy foods if there seems to be a link.

Whether you’re suffering from menopause fatigue, bloating, or hot flashes, your diet might be able to help with them. Keep in mind that you will need to sustain these dietary changes over time in order to keep seeing results. If you just go right back to spicy and sugary foods, you will notice a corresponding decline in your gut flora. Make sustainable changes that you can maintain over time and you will begin to feel better if you stick with it.

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