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Here Laurann O’Reilly, owner of Nutrition by Laurann explains everything you need to know about menopause, nutrition strategies to support and balance you as well as easing some of those menopause symptoms.
Nutrition Strategies For Menopause
There comes a time in women’s lives where we go through what many of us call ‘the change’. For some it can be a seamless transition but for others not so much so.
Here I bring you through everything you need to know about menopause as well as nutrition strategies to support and balance you as well as easing some of those symptoms.
The Stages of Menopause
This is the transition to menopause and may begin several years before menopause itself. This is where the ovaries gradually begin to make less oestrogen until the point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs
Perimenopause can last approximately 4 years but this may vary for each woman.
The drop in oestrogen speeds up during the last couple of years of this stage and perimenopause generally ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having their period.
Note: There are lots of reasons that one may lose their period such as changes in weight, stress and medications, however if you are concerned, please contact your GP
Symptoms of Perimenopause include
- Hot flushes
- Tender/sore breasts
- Irregular Periods
- Mood Swings
- Trouble Sleeping
This is the end of our menstrual and reproductive cycle and usually occurs between the ages of 40-48, with the average age being 51 years.
This generally lasts about 4 years but may be shorter or longer for each woman.
Symptoms of Menopause
- Hot flushes
- Tender/sore breasts
- Irregular Periods
- Mood Swings
- Trouble Sleeping
- Joint & Muscle Aches & Pains
Once you have transitioned post menopause, the hot flushes and symptoms usually ease.
The Importance of Nutrition During All Menopause Stages
As oestrogen plays an important role in regulating calcium absorption in our bodies it’s really important to manage our bone health through our diet through foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Check out my blog post on ‘How to Protect Your Bone Health Through Nutrition & Lifestyle Strategies’ here
1) Calcium: Plays an important role for maintaining our bone health and preventing broken bones, osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis) and osteoporosis throughout our lives.
How much Calcium Do We Need?
Women aged 19-64 years = 800 mg per day
Dietary Sources of Calcium
200ml Skimmed Milk = 44mg
200ml Full Fat Milk = 240mg
200ml Goats Milk = 200mg
Calcium Enriched Soya Milk = 188mg
30g Cheddar Cheese = 221.4mg
30g Feta Cheese = 28.8mg
1 Pot Glenisk Full Fat Bio Natural Yogurt = 189mg
1 Pot Glenisk Low Fat Bio Vanilla Yogurt = 153mg
120g Salmon = 18mg
80g Broccoli = 37.6mg
30g Almonds = 12mg
30g Brazil Nuts = 51mg
30g Hazelnuts = 12mg
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds = 95mg
2) Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, maintaining healthy respiratory and immune systems and for reducing your risk of fracturing bones.
How Much Vitamin D do We Need?
Women Aged 19-49 years = 10-20µ/400-800 IU per day
Women Aged 50+ years = 20-30µ/800-1000 IU per day
Sources of Vitamin D – Sunshine
Most of us are aware that our bodies produce Vitamin D through the exposure of our skin to the sun. However, there are many factors which can affect this such as our Irish weather, clothing, sun cream, wearing make-up as well as a lack of opportunity for sun exposure, with many of us working, studying or being indoors due to lack of mobility or illness.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin D: Oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), lean red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (such fortified milks or spreads and breakfast cereals). It’s also been recommended that we take a Vitamin D supplement all year round, here are the requirements.
Recommended Vitamin D Supplement
Pharma Nord Vitamin D Pearls 1520IU
*For a 15% Discount on any Pharma Nord supplements enter this code at the online checkout: LAURANN15
3) High Quality Protein Sources: Protein makes up approximately 50% of our bone volume, as our bones constantly need to be repaired, good quality protein provides the building blocks needed to support this.
Dietary Sources of Protein
Animal Based: Lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy (such as milk, yogurt and cheeses) and eggs
Plant Based: Hemp, peas, beans, lentils and protein porridges
Recommended Protein Boost
If you want to add a little plant-based protein boost to your diet I like the
- Nua Naturals Hemp Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/hemp-protein/
- Nua Naturals Rice Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/organic-rice-protein-berry-250g/
- Nua Naturals Pea Protein Powder: https://www.nuanaturals.com/product/pea-protein-natural-250g/
*For a 15% Discount on any Nua Naturals products enter this code at the online checkout: LAURANN15
4) Phytoestrogen Foods: Phytoestrogens or dietary oestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants. Many of these plants are already part of a person’s diet.
Studies suggest that phytoestrogens imitate oestrogen because their chemical structure is very similar to that of oestrogen from the body. However, phytoestrogens do not bind to oestrogen receptors as firmly as oestrogen produced by the body, so their effects are thought to be weaker.
Phytoestrogens may be beneficial for women looking to rebalance their hormones as they approach menopause.
Dietary Phytoestrogen Sources
Food Based Sources: Soya products (highest), flaxseeds, sesame seeds, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, rice, wheat and sweet potatoes
A.Vogel Menopause Support:
Note: A.Vogel Menopause Support is a herbal food supplement for all stages of the menopause. It contains a group of substances known as isoflavones obtained from fermented soy, known to have phyto-oestrogenic activity in the body. Made from soya beans and also contains magnesium and hibsicus. This product may be used with HRT and provides nutritional support throughout Menopause.
Foods To Include or Reduce During Menopause
1.Reduce Sugar: Research has found that consuming foods high in sugar can increase the frequency of hot flushes
2.Reduce Alcohol: Studies have found that alcohol can result in a higher amount of hot flushes
3.Reduce Salt: High amounts of salt have been found to reduce bone density in post-menopausal women. Aim for minimum of 4g/teaspoon per day, however this occurs naturally in foods without adding additional salt, it may be worth seasoning with pepper, herbs and spices instead.
4.Include Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are required for the absorption of Vitamin D and research has found the healthy fats help to reduce the frequency of hot flushes and the severity of night sweats. These include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil
5.Include Caffeine: Caffeine below 400mg (so that’s 4 shots of coffee), has been shown to decrease hot flushes.
Note: If you are taking any medications or have a sensitivity to caffeine please consult with your GP or pharmacist first.
Supplements For Managing Your Menopause Symptoms
- Sage: This is a herbal remedy which helps to easy hot flushes and night sweats, my favourite brand for this is A.Vogel Menoforce.
A.Vogel Menoforce (Sage Supplement)
- Evening Primrose Oil: Is known for gently balancing hormones and may be helpful for hot flushes, I like the Solgar Evening Primrose Oil 1300mg
Solgar Evening Primrose Oil
- Panex Ginseng: Has been show to help with symptoms such as mood and sleep disturbances, I like the MyVegan Panex Ginseng
MyVegan Panex Ginseng
Note: Please consult with your GP or pharmacist before taking any Ginseng products to ensure that it’s suitable for you.
Please feel free to contact me here if you have any questions or would like to book a nutrition consultation.
Laurann O’Reilly - Nutritionist
A farmer’s daughter from Tipperary, Laurann has always had an appreciation for food, nutrition and health promotion.
Laurann has an honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin. She is also an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London.
With a passion for nutrition and experience working in Ireland and the UK, Laurann uses her knowledge and skills to help people achieve optimum health and assists in the prevention and treatment of nutritional related problems through means of nutritional consultation, personalised diet plans, health promotion and education.
Laurann has an Honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham, a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin, is an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London, a professional member of the Celiac Society Ireland, is registered with the Institute of Public Health Ireland and fully insured.