What diet should be followed during menopause?

Why is it important to take care of the diet during menopause?

It is important to take care of the diet during all the moments of our life, but it is particularly important during menopause because the cessation of hormonal activity that occurs in this period, causes a series of changes in our body that:

  • Increase cardiovascular risk.
  • The loss of muscle and bone mass.

An adequate diet during this period and during perimenopause (period between the beginning of hormonal and clinical changes up to one year after the last menstrual period, with a variable duration of 2 to 5 years) will help us to prevent possible associated diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, obesity or dyslipidemia.

What foods are beneficial for menopause?

The Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AEND) recommends a diet based on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and whole grains (rice, wheat, pasta, bread, etc.) and nuts. Accompanied by small daily amounts of low-fat dairy products, and weekly amounts of white and blue fish, lean meat, preferably poultry, avoiding fatty meats and sausages.

In addition, it is recommended to avoid ultra-processed foods, which are characterized by having a large amount of fat, salt and sugars and very little fiber and micronutrients. This group includes industrial cookies and pastries, industrial pizzas, precooked food, ice cream, soft drinks, dairy desserts, sauces, salty snacks, sweets, breakfast cereals, energy bars, margarine, cold cuts, etc.

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With respect to soy or foods rich in isoflavones or other phytoestrogens, scientific evidence has shown that they are not effective in reducing the frequency or intensity of hot flashes and are unlikely to improve overall menopausal symptoms.

Why do you gain weight during menopause? What to eat to avoid gaining weight during menopause?

Depending on what we mean by “getting fat”, the cause may be one or the other. If we refer to weight gain in general, scientific evidence tells us that this increase is due more to the decrease in physical activity and energy expenditure related to age, than to menopause.

However, if we refer to an increase in volume due to an increase in fat mass, especially at the abdominal level and a decrease in lean mass, it is due to the hormonal changes produced by menopause.

In order not to gain weight during menopause, in addition to following a healthy diet, described in the previous question, consistent physical exercise is essential.

Scientific evidence tells us that combined nutrition and exercise interventions during menopause can lead to greater results than nutrition or exercise alone. And that weight gain prevention interventions can be successful when initiated before the last menstrual period. That is why it is essential to acquire healthy eating and exercise habits as early as possible.

The WHO, in the document “Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health”, recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 years accumulate a minimum of 150 min (300 min if you need to lose weight) of moderate aerobic physical activity per week or 75 min (150 min if you need to lose weight) of moderate aerobic physical activity per week or 75 min (150 min if you need to lose weight) of moderate aerobic physical activity per week. if you have to lose weight) of intense physical activity or a combination of moderate and vigorous. In addition to performing 2 times per week or more large muscle group strengthening activities.