Menopause symptoms can be distressing – make it better with a holistic approach. Typically beginning in your 40s or early 50s, menopause can cause symptoms that last many years – impacting the quality of life. Physical, mental, and sexual health can deteriorate. Plus, changes during menopause increase your risk of some diseases. Enjoy your best life – discover natural ways to reduce symptoms and enjoy healthy menopause.
Evidence points to eating patterns that are rich in plant-based whole foods as a natural way to reduce menopause symptoms. According to research, these foods impact your menopause symptoms:
Here’s what researchers say are great ways to naturally reduce menopause symptoms and improve health after menopause.
Sources of calcium, leafy greens (kale, collard greens, spinach, seaweed), as well as tofu and beans, are important elements of a healthy menopause diet. An increased risk of osteoporosis occurs after menopause. Magnesium and vitamin D are also important nutrients for bone health. Seeds, legumes, and dark leafy greens are great sources of magnesium. Of note, magnesium also improves muscle performance and energy metabolism, note researchers – excellent benefits for menopausal women struggling with belly fat and body weight changes.
Vitamin D is hard to obtain from food sources. Canadians are also at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to our lack of exposure to sunlight, particularly during the colder half of the year. According to Statistics Canada, only 68% of Canadians have sufficient blood concentrations of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation may delay age-related bone loss. Importantly, research is unveiling that vitamin D plays many roles in the endocrine system (hormones). Focus on your vitamin D levels during menopause, as postmenopausal women appear to have a high prevalence of diseases linked to low vitamin D levels, reports experts.
Antioxidants found in plants, reduce inflammation and promote healthy bone cell behaviour, note researchers. Fibers present in plants support healthy gut flow and enhance the helpful microbes present in the gut. Plus, fibers trap and improve the elimination of excess cholesterol from the body. The transition into menopause alters lipid profiles, with up to a 15% increase in LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Heart disease risk increases with menopause.
The annoying belly fat that can accumulate is a menopause symptom you may notice, but it’s the ones you can’t see that are most concerning. The drop in estrogen in menopause causes an increase in blood fat levels, blood pressure, and calcification of the coronary artery. The combination of declining heart health and body weight explains the 2-3 times greater prevalence of metabolic syndrome among menopausal women, as noted in research. It’s important to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that promote heart health: regular physical activity, nutritious food, traditional herbal medicine, a positive mindset, and stress management.
Evidence shows being physically active during menopause can improve symptoms and help boost mental health. Yoga is a clear leader: research says yoga may improve hot flashes. It may also reduce urinary and sexual symptoms of menopause. Yoga is an ancient Indian system of fitness that promotes muscle strengthening and joint mobility.
A few traditionally used herbal medicines have been used to improve menopause symptoms naturally in studies, including licorice, valerian, soy, sage, and ginseng. However, black cohosh and isoflavones are probably the most well-known. Maca is another herb of interest to researchers for the potential improvement of menopausal symptoms.
Interestingly, acupuncture is recommended by researchers as a potential natural strategy to reduce menopause symptoms.
Nutrition in menopause women: a narrative review. Nutrients 2021 Jul; 13(7): 2149.
Dietary patterns and their association with menopausal symptoms: a cross-sectional study. Menopause 2019 Apr;26(4):365-372.
Exercise and quality of life in women with menopause symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Envron Res Public Health 2020 Sep 26;17(19):7049.
The health effects of vitamin D supplementation: evidence from human studies. Nature Reviews Endocrinology 18, 96-110 (2022).
Symptoms of menopause – global prevalence, physiology and implications. Nature Reviews Endocrinology 14, 199-215 (2018).
Investigation of the role of herbal medicine, acupressure and acupuncture in the menopausal symptoms: an evidence-based systematic review study. J Family Med Prim Care 2020 Jun 30;9(6): 2638-2649.
Risk factors associated with coronary artery calcification in midlife women: A population-based study. Gynecol. Endocrinol. 2019;35:904–908.
Holistic care of menopause: understanding the framework. J Midlife Health 2012 Jul-Dec; 3(2): 66-69.
Contributed by Allison Tannis
Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.