What foods should you eat in menopause? This is a common question we get here at Gennev- and for good reason! Let’s face it, nutrition can be confusing. We all come across many different opinions and news from so many sources, so our team of health experts has done some digging for you, and offers our targeted recommendations.
Protein: Our protein needs go up in mid-life as extra support is needed to maintain muscle mass, mobility, metabolism, and our immune system. How much protein should you include each day? This can vary from person to person, but a general guideline is to aim for 20 to 25 grams per meal and 10 to 15 grams per snack.
Chicken, turkey, and fish are all good sources of lean protein, or you may choose legumes, grains and even spinach. Plus, we like Greek yogurt for a high protein breakfast or snack option that has the added benefit of being high in calcium. When selecting Greek yogurt, choose a product that is lower in fat and added sugars. You can add in your own berries for flavor.
Prebiotics & Probiotics: Research is finding that our gut health extends beyond digestion to other areas of our health and wellness including metabolism, nervous system regulation, and endocrine system function. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause have even been found to change the bacterial make-up of the gut microbiome. These shifts make it important to include prebiotic and probiotic foods to support having a diversity of beneficial bacteria within your gut.
You are already adding pre-biotics to your diet when you include more fruits, vegetables such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, beans and whole-grain foods to your meals. And including fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir and certain cheeses, often contain live cultures which may act as probiotics. Other fermented foods that may provide benefit (but more studies are needed) include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh.
Phytoestrogens: Phytoestrogens, found in flaxseeds and soy-containing foods, may have the potential to support a reduction in menopausal symptoms for some women. However, all women can benefit from the plant-based protein and fiber these foods contain as a way to support heart health, which is an important focus point in menopause as estrogen naturally declines. Aim for 2 to 3 servings of high quality soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, or soy milk and 1 to 2 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds daily: consider adding flax to cereal or yogurt or blending in a smoothie.
Anti-inflammatory foods: An anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes plants for their fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals and includes foods that are closer to their natural state (not processed).
To get started with an anti-inflammatory diet, the simplest way is to include a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables each day for antioxidant support and protection. You may be surprised that you can find one or two creative ways to get those fruits and veggies into your meals such as adding spinach to your scrambled eggs or kale to a smoothie. You can also try adding cauliflower rice to your regular rice for an added boost of nutrients and fiber.
Calcium-rich foods: Bone health is very important to consider in menopause, and calcium will help protect your bones. The recommendation is to aim for 1200 mg per day, which can sometimes be hard to do through food alone. When you think of calcium-rich foods, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are top choices. Also high in calcium are fortified orange juice, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, soy foods , sardines and trout.
Proper nutrition is key to warding off disease as we age. If you need some guidance on how to incorporate these foods into your diet on a regular basis, consider working with our integrated care team of board certified OB/GYNs and Registered Dietitians who are experts in supporting women in menopause. They can create a personalized plan that addresses your symptoms, optimizes your nutrition and other lifestyle factors, as well as offers the support to create healthy habits for the long-term.