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  • Writer's pictureDr. David Della Morte Canosci

MENOPAUSE DIET: WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID FOR WEIGHT LOSS

The menopause phase is a natural transition in a woman's life, signifying the end of fertility. This period, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, is accompanied by various symptoms such as the cessation of menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, and sleep disturbances. These changes are primarily caused by a decrease in estrogen levels, which can have a significant impact on a woman's metabolism and overall health.


Donna in menopausa cucina la dieta

UNDERSTANDING MENOPAUSE AND ITS EFFECTS

During menopause, women become more susceptible to certain health conditions such as osteoporosis, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and cardiovascular events. This increased vulnerability emphasizes the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle, including dietary modifications and potentially hormonal replacement therapy.


THE ROLE OF DIET IN MENOPAUSE


A well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in managing the symptoms and potential health risks associated with menopause. It can help prevent osteoporosis by ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin D, calcium, and reducing sodium consumption. Additionally, it can help manage weight gain and prevent metabolic disorders by reducing saturated fats and cholesterol while increasing the intake of unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Furthermore, incorporating phytoestrogen-rich foods into the diet may help alleviate menopausal symptoms.


To achieve these dietary goals, it is essential to create a personalized meal plan that addresses individual needs and preferences. Consulting with professionals such as doctors, nutritionists, or dietitians can provide valuable guidance in designing a suitable diet for menopause.


DESIGNING A MENOPAUSE DIET PLAN


A menopause diet should incorporate certain characteristics and considerations to optimize health outcomes and alleviate symptoms.


These characteristics include:


  1. Preventing Osteoporosis: Adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium is crucial for maintaining bone health during menopause. Reducing excess sodium, alcohol, and antinutritional factors (such as oxalates, phytates, and tannins) is also recommended. Some studies suggest that excessive protein and phosphorus intake may increase urinary calcium excretion, so moderation is advisable.

  2. Managing Weight: Weight gain is a common concern during menopause, which can increase the risk of metabolic disorders. Therefore, it is important to promote weight loss or maintain a healthy weight through portion control, calorie reduction, and regular physical activity.

  3. Preventing Metabolic Disorders: Menopause is a critical period for women's metabolic health. To mitigate the risk of cardiovascular events, it is advisable to reduce saturated fats and cholesterol while increasing the intake of unsaturated fats, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.

  4. Alleviating Symptoms: Incorporating phytoestrogens, such as those found in soy and legumes, into the diet may help manage menopausal symptoms. However, it is essential to note that the efficacy of phytoestrogens is still a subject of debate, and individual responses may vary.

donna in enopausa corre con uomo


EXAMPLE MENOPAUSE DIET PLAN


To illustrate how a menopause diet can be structured, let's consider an example for a 51-year-old sedentary woman who exercises three times a week at the gym:

  • Category Percentage Calories (kcal)

  • Macronutrient Distribution Lipids 25% 471.1

  • Proteins (≥0.75) ≤1.5g/kg 354

  • Carbohydrates 56% 1059.9

  • Breakfast 15% 290

  • Snack 10% 188

  • Lunch 35% 660

  • Snack 10% 188

  • Dinner 30% 565


Note: The menopause diet plan should not be excessively restrictive but should provide all the necessary nutrients. In this case, a moderate calorie deficit of 10% has been applied instead of a more significant reduction.

It is important to focus on the quality of fats consumed. Instead of aiming for a strict 25% calorie intake from lipids, it is advisable to prioritize healthier sources of fats, such as unsaturated fats and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This can be achieved by consuming foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

The distribution of macronutrients should be adjusted based on individual needs, preferences, and any underlying health conditions. Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended to ensure the diet plan aligns with specific requirements.


ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR MENOPAUSE DIET


Apart from the dietary aspects discussed above, there are several other factors to consider when adopting a menopause diet:

  1. Genetic Testing: Understanding the composition of gut microbiota through genetic testing can help identify any imbalances that may impact overall health and metabolism. This information can guide dietary choices and potential interventions.

  2. Intermittent Fasting: Some women find intermittent fasting beneficial during menopause. However, it is essential to approach intermittent fasting with caution and consult a healthcare professional to determine if it is suitable for individual circumstances.

  3. Brain-Gut Axis: The connection between the brain and gut plays a crucial role in overall health. Nourishing the gut with a healthy diet, prebiotics, and probiotics can positively impact both physical and mental well-being.

  4. Supplementation: While a well-rounded diet should provide most essential nutrients, certain supplements can support hormonal balance and overall health during menopause. These may include vitamins, fish oil, minerals, antioxidants, and specific herbs or medicinal plants. However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation regimen.

  5. Physical Activity: Regular exercise is essential for maintaining overall health and managing weight during menopause. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can have significant benefits.

  6. Restorative Sleep: Sufficient sleep is vital for hormone regulation, metabolism, and overall well-being. Establishing healthy sleep habits and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can contribute to better health outcomes during menopause.

CONCLUSION


A well-designed menopause diet can help manage symptoms, support overall health, and reduce the risk of metabolic disorders associated with this transitional phase. By incorporating the right nutrients, focusing on portion control, and making healthy lifestyle choices, women can navigate menopause with greater ease.


Consulting with healthcare professionals and considering individual needs and preferences are crucial steps in creating a personalized menopause diet plan that optimizes well-being and promotes weight loss.




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