What to Avoid during Menopause?
Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices Around Menopause
Women’s health, and menopause in particular, are topics filled with misinformation. Whether due to the lack of historical importance placed on educating around women’s health or just an abundance of fraudulent product marketing, some of this misinformation can damage our perspective on what it really means to make a healthy lifestyle choice.
A prime example is the connection between menopause and soy, which has long been disparaged. In reality, soy foods contain phytoestrogens that may help with menopausal symptoms, albeit not as effectively as estrogen treatment. Even better, soy helps lower cholesterol levels and increase bone density, supporting heart and bone health at a crucial time for both.
While soy seems to have earned a pass in the public eye lately, there are a number of key things that should be avoided during menopause. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food are examples, but there are also less tangible concepts to address: such as stress.
The Effects of Stress During Menopause
Menopause tends to bring with it stress, either from managing symptoms or reflecting on the passage of time. Your body responds to stress with inflammation, which throws your hormones into further flux and can eventually raise your blood pressure and heart rate.
Eliminating stress is not an easy task, but there are steps you can take if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Meditating, following a yoga routine, or simply setting aside a few minutes a day for yourself to breathe and re-center are all good examples. Plenty of apps offer follow-along meditation and yoga courses, as well as some that try to create a peaceful environment to escape to with relaxing soundscapes and visual effects.
View Menopause Realistically
Menopause, like many other aspects of women’s health, can feel daunting to face at first. To help keep stress in check, try to avoid framing these changes as a loss. When approached thoughtfully, menopause can actually be a catalyst for positive change in your life. For example, there are a number of health benefits to cutting out alcohol; addressing menopause symptoms is just one of them.
For a similar point, mood swings are a common and natural result of menopause but worth combating for your own mental wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness with exercises we’ve touched on, such as focusing on your breathing, can help you avoid the feeling of being swept up by hormones.
If you do feel like menopause is becoming overwhelming and introducing too many challenges, pause and take action rather than neglecting your health goals. Make a plan, such as setting workout schedules, and keeping your room cooler at night with a fan.
On that note, it’s good practice to dress and sleep in layers so you can quickly adjust to your body’s temperature changes. Another hot tip is to try sipping cold water before bed, if hot flashes make sleep seem impossible.
Cultivating a Healthier Lifestyle
As hard as it can be to forgo that morning cup of coffee or trying that new Thai restaurant, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods are unfortunately among those that exacerbate symptoms of menopause. Instead, small and frequent meals made with nutrient-dense foods are suggested. Vegetables, nuts, and seeds can keep your energy high while managing your appetite, as fewer calories are needed during menopause. Mindfulness meditation is also a healthy replacement when cravings hit.
As with most women’s health topics, comorbidities can worsen the symptoms of menopause. Poor sleep habits, smoking, and unhealthy weights can unfortunately all serve to increase discomfort. While these are not typically problems that can be addressed overnight, it is something to keep in mind while approaching menopause and one more piece of motivation for addressing them when you can.
Socializing is another important part of maintaining mental health, especially during periods of transition. If you’re worried about menopause affecting your mental capacity, avoid shutting yourself away out of discomfort. Try volunteering in your community with friends instead, or just hopping on family Zoom calls more frequently.
For many struggling to adapt to changes or manage symptoms, it can also feel like your sex life is over. On the contrary, your libido may be changing, but testosterone levels actually increase during menopause while estrogen levels drop. That all equates to a higher sex drive.
Supplementing Women’s Health
This article has already covered a lot of information, and it can be a challenge to account for all of your body’s changing needs, such as increasing daily calcium intake to better support aging bone health. Supplements can luckily take a lot of the guesswork out of this.
In particular, fish oil with its omega-3 fatty acids serve a number of purposes benefiting women’s health. Fish oil has a weak anti-estrogen effect, reducing the impact of fluctuating hormones. Fish oil also reduces inflammation, further supporting hormone balance and improving mental health at a baseline.
Lastly, fish oil has been found by studies to ease the depressive symptoms that hormone imbalances may cause, and can be used to treat common menopause-related mental health problems. The krill oil linked here, for example, raises the omega-3 index faster than any other source of omega-3 and helps ease the transition of menopausal women. Since much of this article has discussed major lifestyle changes, this is one easy way to manage menopause and symptoms.
Putting It All TogetherAmid a sea of misinformation, pitfalls regarding women’s health abound and menopause is no exception. Thankfully, by avoiding these pitfalls we can mitigate the negative effects. Proper sleep and diet are essential even if they have become more difficult to manage due to symptoms, and reducing comorbidities always helps.
Specifically, fish oil is a key supplement supporting women’s health, especially during menopause. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, support hormonal balance, and even directly impact mental health for the better.
Finally, practicing mindfulness is the best lifestyle change to avoid stress. Pay attention to your physical and mental health during menopause, and see a doctor if you have any concerns.