Menopause is a state of life that is accompanied by hot flushes, night sweat, insomnia, mood swings and fatigue. The weight loss process can also get tougher, and the bones weaker. While there is no way to prevent it, a healthy diet and lifestyle can do a lot to relieve the symptoms and make it easier to cope with the changes.

 it is best to eat a diet that includes enough calcium, iron and fibre and limited fatty foods, sugar and salt. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight. If you are battling obesity, you may want to modify your diet and exercise routine for weight loss.

High sugar intake causes an immediate mood elevating effect, and they are one of the highest causes for fatigue and mood changes and fluctuations, after sugar levels drop. It is advised to therefore have a sustained release of sugar through eating complex carbohydrates such as jowar, bajra, millet and barley and avoid maida and rice. 

Nutrition to cope with the symptoms of menopause :

* Oily fish and legumes: A study done by researchers at the University of Leeds shows that a high intake of healthy foods, such as oily fish and fresh legumes, such as peas and green beans is associated with later onset of menopause, while a high consumption of refined white pasta and rice was associated with an earlier start.

* Green leafy vegetables: Menopause can cause loss of bone density. During menopause, it’s advised that women increase their intake of calcium-rich food such as ragi, green leafy vegetables, fruits such as banana and low-fat dairy.

* Avoid spicy food: Cut down on spicy chillis, pepper, and spices like garam masala, and reduce intake of packaged and processed foods. Ayurveda advises that people focus on plant-based nutrition, so meat is not recommended as it produces more toxins and free radicals in the body.

* Fresh fruits: Fresh fruits and vegetables eliminate toxins and clear your system. Have apples, prunes or figs in the morning, which can reduce mood swings. Through the day, you can munch on different kinds of fruits.

* Antioxidants: Menopause is characterised by a decline in estrogen levels in women. Research shows that it can cause metabolic changes in the brain that may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But antioxidants can protect their brain activity and mitochondria in combination with strategies to maintain estrogen levels. Exercise and foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as flaxseeds, also may help boost oestrogen production.

* Spices can help: Spices like cardamom, cumin and cinnamon can help with stomach issues, while fenugreek seeds (methi), amaranth, nachni/ragi (finger millet) and black sesame (high on calcium and iron) are also beneficial.

* Eat proteins: Estrogen levels tend to fall after menopause causing a slowdown of metabolism, and thus weight loss gets difficult during menopause. The best way to prevent weight gain is to eat 40% less carbohydrates after you hit 40, and instead eat proteins like dal, sprouts, eggs and tofu.

* Eat low-inflammatory diets: Maintaining bone density is important for ageing women, especially after menopause, when bone density can drastically drop. A study shows that women who eat low inflammatory diets have lower bone densities at the beginning of the study, but lost less bone than women following high inflammatory diets.

* Exercise: Several studies have shown that women who are active during menopause can significantly reduce their weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). Strength training and cardiovascular exercise can help them stay fit and cope with the symptoms of menopause.

FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DR GOVIND SHUKLA, NUTRITION EXPERT

Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.

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