Today we are going to discuss menopause nutrition foundations proven for a smooth journey through this scary passage of life. What are those I hear you say? Well, let’s find out.
Mood swings, short term memory loss, hot flashes and feelings of uncontrolled stress are common in women as they reach their menopausal years.
You exercise, try to eat a healthy diet and manage stress levels. Yet, there is something lurking within that feels like an unwanted guest you can’t get rid of. This feels frightening. You knew it was coming but kept putting off focusing on your health. Time and responsibilities have a habit of doing this to us – creeping up on us!
Our lives are lived at a hectic, stressful pace and the downside of this frenetic daily life is that we often grab fast food take outs or packaged foods that are chemically enhanced. We prioritize convenience over nutrition. This unhealthy lifestyle leads to a list of health issues including digestive complaints, blood sugar swings, hormonal imbalances, sleep problems and weight gain especially as you reach menopause.
You know you have hit the dreaded menopause stage of life but you just can’t get off the daily stress grind. But eventually you feel so bad and stressed out that you know you MUST do something to improve your health.
So where to start?
Menopause nutrition foundations #1 Whole food nutrient dense diet
The first place to implement menopause nutritional foundations is to switch your diet to a whole foods nutrient-dense properly prepared diet. Here are some ways to do this.
Eating nutrient-dense foods will ensure you are getting what your body needs for great health and these foods won’t leave you feeling hungry quickly.
- Consume foods that are in their original form such as wild caught fish, pasture-raised meat and eggs, fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, seeds and nuts.
- Buy local and in season where possible such as eating salads and high water content fruits in the summer and soups, casseroles and citrus fruits in the winter. Source foods locally such as at your local farmers market. Eat a diverse variety of foods including healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates.
Menopause nutrition foundations: food preparation
Prepare these foods for optimum flavor and nutrition. This can mean slow cooking or quick cooking. Baking, roasting, stewing, sautéing and steaming should form the foundational cooking methods for nutrient preservation. Over time you can master specialized techniques. These will ensure maximum preservation of nutrients in your food. Some of these are soaking nuts and grains, fermenting and sprouting.
You will enjoy better digestion and blood sugar regulation. Your hormones will enjoy a better fatty acid balance, and you will stay hydrated with greater mineral absorption.
#2 Menopause nutrition foundations digestion
The second menopause nutrition foundation is nutrition.
Did you know that digestion begins in your brain?
So next time you catch a snack on the run, think about what this might be doing to your brain and this might be affecting the brain fog you are suffering from in recent years!
Digestion is a north to south process beginning in your brain. All parts of your digestive system need to be healthy in order to enjoy balanced energy, calm moods and joy.
You smell and see food and digestion begins before you even take your first bite.
Digestion is the process of breaking down your whole foods diet to absorb nutrients and fuel your body. Your digestion has to be working properly for you to enjoy great health.
Every cell in your body relies on the digestive system to provide it with the nutrients it needs for structure and function.
When we fail to properly digest our food, our bodies are missing out on many key nutrients necessary for energy, hormone balance, moods, memory, good sleep and overall health.
#3 menopause nutrition foundations blood sugar regulation
Your body works continuously to maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the day.
But when you eat too little, or too much or eat too many refined carbohydrates and sugars, our bodies can get stuck in a vicious cycle and cause our blood sugar levels to rise too high.
When this happens, our brains react in an effort to bring blood sugar levels back down. Your brain occasionally overshoots and drops levels too low which may be a feeling of needing to eat quick acting carbohydrates. You may feel light headed from the blood sugar crash (hangry feelings).
Menopause nutrition foundations: Blood sugar and stress
Blood sugar regulation (BSR) is negatively impacted by stress. Stress is a constant companion especially with a busy career, family and possibly elderly relatives to care for. You may be juggling many hats that are having a detrimental effect on your blood sugar regulation (BSR). This can cause blood sugar spikes and dips as well as other foundational imbalances.
Blood sugar regulation is due to diet and hormonal imbalances.
Never before have we had the need to lower blood sugar. This need to lower blood sugar and insulin levels is driving much of the research around the benefits of the Keto lifestyle and intermittent fasting. The increased consumption of processed and refined foods, environmental toxicity, and stress creates this unique and critical need.
The enormous consumption of sugar per adult (160 lbs. per year on average) is drastically affecting our health.
Often women are just eating too many sugary foods.
By adjusting your macronutrient ratios, you can create balanced hormonal release and utilize all your macronutrients – fats, carbohydrates and proteins for energy.
#4 menopause nutritional foundations fatty acids
Healthy fats such as grass fed butter, ghee, saturated fats and olive oil are great for our health. We love fat because it makes our dishes taste so delicious. From keeping our brains sharp to absorbing key nutrients in the digestive system, fat has many benefits. These benefits affect all stages of life, but especially menopause when your hormones are changing.
Fats are a delicious source of energy that keeps us full and moving during the day.
Fats and adipose tissue
There are many myths that circulate about fats being an issue. The fats you eat is not related to adipose tissue that may be hanging around your midriff.
Adipose tissue is often due to processed foods including trans fats (industrial oils or other chemically processed oils ) taking up residence in your abdominal area.
Healthy fats help us to absorb our fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.
How we help with fatty acids at Metabolix Health (MH)
At Metabolix Health, we test menopausal women for hormone imbalances, gut health issues and metabolic imbalances.
A key factor of metabolism is fatty acids. We often find that the issue is an inability to metabolize fats. You may also be oxidizing fatty acids including healthy fats. Fatty acid oxidation doesn’t get enough attention from health professionals. Fatty acid malabsorption is why many women do not do well on the Keto lifestyle program.
Fatty acid deficiency is epidemic. Musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, skin issues, allergies and anxiety can be related to fatty acid deficiencies. Phospholipids are needed to build cell membranes and certain hormones. To be healthy, you must eat enough healthy fats.
Your goal is to get the fats your body needs to lower inflammation. Fats serve as a protective lining of your organs.
Some healthy fats to consider:
- grass fed butter
- cold pressed olive oil
- coconut oil
- nuts and seeds
- pasture-raised eggs
- wild caught fish
- grass-fed pasture raised and finished beef
When we get our healthy fats, it helps our digestion and blood sugar regulation as well as hormone balance.
#5 Menopause nutrition foundations: mineral balance
Minerals make up only 4% of your body. They are essential for your health. Your body can’t make them.
Many minerals are beneficial, but here are 7 essential minerals we need in a relatively large amount to keep our bodies functioning properly:
Minerals play a key role in nerve conduction, muscle function, and tissue growth.
So what is the best way to make sure you are getting all of the minerals you need in your diet?
Consume lots of mineral rich foods! You may be worried about the risk of osteoporosis and calcium deficiency. Perhaps your mother suffered with osteoporosis and you have genuine concerns for your own health.
Minerals are essential for your health
What you may not know is that most women get enough calcium but are missing the 6 major cofactors that allow the body to use it:
- hormone function
- other minerals
- fatty acids
Calcium is a game of cofactors, not a specific deficiency. Minerals are a primary factor in healthy bone metabolism, in addition to vitamins, hormones and exercise.
The best way to maintain mineral balance is to eat a diet that includes whole foods from plants and animals. Ideally, you would also eat a variety of diverse whole foods to ensure you’re getting all the key minerals.
#6 Menopause nutritional foundations water
Water is the most important nutrient in the body. It is critical for life.
Your body’s mass is 60% water and all your cells need water to function. Many menopausal women are in a state of chronic dehydration. Even slight dehydration (1-2%) can cause symptoms of fatigue, brain fog and headaches.
Moderate dehydration can actually cause constipation, other digestive issues, joint pains and heartburn.
Reasons that we are need are:
- transport nutrients and waste,
- maintain body temperature,
- protect tissues,
- cells build and communicate,
- and so much more.
91 oz. of water per day can keep you from chronic dehydration.
Drinking water may even help you to shed those unwanted pounds from around your belly!
You want to make sure you are drinking filtered water to avoid heavy contaminants. Please do not drink water directly from your tap! You can add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon to your water so electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium) can help you absorb and utilize the water.
Many of the health issues facing women in menopause come from weaknesses in these menopause nutrition foundations. Digestive complaints, having short term memory issues, mood swings, waking up at 3 am each night, and gaining unwanted belly fat is not normal!
Making sure you get a varied, whole foods nutrient dense diet that is locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable is going to make a very big difference to your nutrition foundations. At MHI, we help women with their diets (coaching is vital to changing life long habits), offer lab assessments, detailed case history review and clinical nutritional interventions. If you are struggling to implement all of this on your own. Schedule a no-obligation FREE Health call with our team to discuss your individual needs.
- Andrea Mario Bolla, Amelia Caretto, Andrea Laurenzi, Marina Scavini, and Lorenzo Piemonti (2019) Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (2019) Nutrients 11(5): 962 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566854
- Kershaw E, Flier J, (2004) Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 89, Issue 6, 1 June 2004, Pages 2548–2556 https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2004-0395