If you’re going through the menopause, you’ll know that the life stage can mean facing a number of challenging symptoms.
The hormonal changes you’re experiencing often lead to hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, headaches, mood swings, and general aches and pains, amongst other undesirable side effects. However, new research indicates that making a few simple changes to your eating habits could reduce their impact.
The study, conducted by scientists at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, suggests that women who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables may experience fewer physical and mental symptoms of menopause than those who consume more sweets, fats and snacks.
To generate their findings, the team surveyed 400 women in their mid- to late-50s who had already gone through menopause about their eating habits, as well as quizzing them about how often they experienced the most common symptoms.
They found that the women fell into three main groups – those who ate lots of fruit and veg, those who enjoyed a higher amount of mayonnaise, oils, sweets and desserts; and a third group who favoured a variety of fatty foods and snacks – and those in the first group seemed to have less severe symptoms than those in the other two.
‘The high-fat and -sugar dietary pattern has high amounts of simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, especially saturated and trans fats, and a relatively low content of fiber, which can increase the levels of inflammatory biomarkers and body weight, all of them are related to menopausal symptoms,’ senior study author Gity Sotoudeh explained to Business Insider.
‘On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are low in fat, are a good source of micronutrients, antioxidants, as they help the body to lower the inflammation and maintain a healthy body weight during the menopause.’
‘Fruits and vegetables are also rich in fibre, which can modify the estrogen metabolism and decrease the fluctuation in levels of estrogen, which all decrease the risk of symptoms.’
The authors of the study did acknowledge that there were too many limitations to the research, including the small group size, to draw any broad conclusions about the correlation between diet and the menopause, but added that cutting down on fatty and sugary foods and upping produce intake can have other health benefits regardless.
‘We suggest that women cut down or avoid fast food, sweet and sugary food as much as they can, and start adding foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, especially colorful and green leafy vegetables and whole grain into their diet if they are not getting enough of them,’ Sotoudeh advised.
‘Because it not only helps them to have lower menopausal symptoms, it would help with preventing of weight gain and some diseases that menopausal women are at a higher risk of.’