As you approach and enter menopause, your hormones change. The way your body processes certain nutrients changes. You’ll need more of some nutrients and less of others. The way you consume foods should be altered to optimize the way your body processes these nutrients.
A healthy diet can help offset the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, and prevent many chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. In general, a healthy diet is one that is:
Menopause is a time of many changes for women, both biologically and environmentally. As you approach and enter menopause, your hormones change. The way your body processes certain nutrients also changes. In particular, you will need to watch your intake of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
As you approach and enter middle age, increase your protein intake to 1.2g per kilogram of bodyweight daily. The extra protein is needed to maintain muscle mass and strength, preserve bone mass, and prevent skeletal degeneration. Spread protein intake over three meals to improve the way your body absorbs and uses this nutrient.
Many carbohydrate-rich foods are packed with nutrients and fibre, but as the body ages the way it processes carbohydrates, specifically glucose, changes. Higher quantities of glucose create blood-sugar spikes that can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. By consuming low-glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates, you can manage rises in blood sugar and continue eating nutritious carbs while controlling weight gain as you age.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Your calcium needs increase after menopause, jumping from 1000mg to 1200mg daily. Calcium can’t be absorbed in large doses, though, and too much calcium in the blood is a bad thing. Calcium is best taken when food sources and supplements are spread throughout the day in smaller amounts or a slow-release supplement is taken. In your later years, you’ll need more vitamin D to preserve bone strength, so it’s alright to increase your daily intake early, to 800IU.
You may be one of a small portion of the population that has difficulty absorbing food sources of vitamin B12 in middle age. Fortified foods and supplements are absorbed differently by the body and are a good way to meet your needs in this case.
An excellent nutrition resource for menopausal women is Canada’s Food Guide.