The One Show: Louise Minchin discusses menopause
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Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life. Menopause is linked to many uncomfortable symptoms and can increase your risk of certain diseases. But your diet can have a huge diminishing impact on some of these health symptoms and can help to ease the transition.
Menopause describes the period in a woman’s life when she stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Periods usually start to become less frequent the months before menopause officially begins.
However, sometimes they can suddenly stop altogether at once.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing for women and typically begins between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51.
However, one in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age – which is a condition known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms of menopause can be debilitating and impact your everyday life significantly.
But some foods can help ease symptoms or worsen symptoms, particularly hot flashes and insomnia.
Adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet is usually a good idea.
But it is especially important for women who are nearing or have just passed through menopause.
Good nutrition can make a big change in how you feel with regard to menopause symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes and exhaustion, as well as bloating and possible weight gain.
The best foods to eat when you are a woman of menopausal age includes whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein.
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But what foods should you avoid during menopause?
Processed foods are usually high in sodium and have a lot of added sugars – or both.
Natural foods are much better to your general health and particularly when women are going through menopause.
Processed foods raise your blood sugar rapidly which may induce hot flashes during menopause – the same can be said of high sugar content foods.
Foods which are high in spice can trigger sweating, flushing and other hot flash symptoms according to the National Institute on Aging.
If you notice you have worse hot flashes after eating spicy foods, you should try to cut back or cut them out altogether.
One study of perimenopausal women in India associated hot flashes with spicy food intake and anxiety levels.
Caffeine can have a significant impact on women during menopause.
Those who consume caffeine have been shown in studies to be more likely to have hot flashes than those who do not consume caffeine.
Alcohol is another element which has been shown to bring on hot flashes in women.
Having a few glasses of wine a week is not likely to have a significant impact, but those who regularly drink more than is recommended may notice symptoms worsening.
Alcohol and caffeine also both interfere with sleep which may exacerbate hot flashes and anxiety or depression.
If reduced inhibitions prompt comfort eating, you may also gain weight as well.
Food food offers great convenience for many who have busy lives.
These types of foods tend to be fattier and can increase the risk of heart disease.
Women are at greater risk of heart disease after passing through menopause.
In addition, fast food tends to promote weight gain which can worsen menopause symptoms too.
Meats which are high in saturated fat such as bacon, can lower your body’s serotonin levels.
These greasier foods can exacerbate menopause symptoms and instead you should seek out leaner meats.
Refined carbs such as white rice, pasta and potatoes are linked to spikes in one’s blood sugar and an increase in insulin resistance.
This can in turn lead to worse and more hot flashes.
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