Did you know that a woman’s dietary needs change as she enters menopause? Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the right nutritional support from the foods you eat in your later years.
During menopause, the amount of daily calcium you need increases to 1,200 mg because of bone-building estrogen declining. You can achieve this by consuming several servings of calcium-rich foods throughout the day, such as 1 cup low-fat milk, ½ cup low-fat yogurt,1 cup cooked spinach plus 1ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese.
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, keeps your immune system strong, and may protect you against breast and colon cancers. Foods rich in vitamin D include mushrooms, salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fatty fish.
Foods to Avoid
Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories. Avoid the following:
- Processed foods. Potato chips and cookies are usually loaded with salt or sugar, and can make you retain water and feel bloated. Try healthier snacks such as string cheese, carrots dipped in hummus or a few whole-grain crackers with peanut butter.
- Spicy Foods. Foods that rate high on the heat scale can trigger hot flashes. Skip the jalapenos and use spices that provide flavor without as much heat, such as cumin, curry, turmeric and basil.
- Fast Food. Burgers, fries and other fast foods that are high in fat can increase your risk for heart disease. Instead, have quick, healthy foods on hand by freezing leftovers at home or packing a lunch. Or choose healthier items on the menu, such as a grilled-chicken sandwich on a whole-grain bun.
- Caffeine. Women who consume caffeine are more likely to have hot flashes than those who don’t, according to a recent study. If you’re craving a warm drink, try a hot ginger or peppermint tea or a coffee substitute.
- Fatty meats. Besides being high in saturated fat, foods like brisket and bacon can lower the body’s serotonin levels. Shop for leaner alternatives like chicken, turkey and ground beef that’s 90 percent lean or better.
- Alcohol. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day. According to the North American Menopause Society, women who have 2–5 drinks a day have 1.5 times the risk for breast cancer as those who don’t drink at all. Heavy drinking also can increase your risk for heart disease, and some women find that alcohol makes them more susceptible to hot flashes.
To make an appointment with a doctor specializing in women’s health, visit WinniePalmerHospital.com or call 321.841.5560.