- Has a women got different nutritional needs post menopause and why?
Yes, because the fall in oestrogen due to the menopause, results in many symptoms like weight gain, hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, poor concentration, more frequent headaches, joint pains, bone weakness and muscle mass reduction. The diet can be altered to minimise the extent of these symptoms. So for example eating regularly, ensuring the diet is balanced, varied and healthy with the right number of calories to prevent weight gain.
- How should a woman’s diet change after menopause?
Lifestyle should change to prevent or minimise muscle reduction, weight gain and bone weaknesses.
So this means keeping a healthy weight (BMI 20-25), regular weight bearing exercise. E.g. walking, dancing, keep fit or even weight lifting with light weights.
By making sure you are careful with your energy (Calories) intake and exercising more the effect of that will be less fat gain and more muscle tissue. When our muscle increases this means we have more active tissue which requires more energy. So we know that in menopause muscle mass will reduce due to a drop in oestrogen, by eating less and exercising more we can combat or minimise this affect.
For more on weight control see bdaweightwise.com
This in turn will minimise the increased risk in menopause of high blood pressure, changes in cholesterol.
- Do post-menopausal women need fewer calories?
Yes, because they loss muscle tissue, which is an active tissue which requires more calories. Hence the importance of weight bearing exercise, to minimise muscle loss and therefore the drop in calories.
- Is more calcium recommended?
Yes, because the drop in oestrogen speeds up calcium losses in the bones. So it is really important that the diet contains 700mg calcium/day. This is best through diet, but if that is not achieved then a supplement maybe necessary. Interestingly, the osteoporosis society recommend 1000-1200mg a day. Vit D is also really important to help absorb calcium. Which is available from diet and sunlight exposure. After the age of 65yrs or women with a low sunlight exposure are recommended to take a vit D supplement of 10 mcg a day. You can buy these from your local chemist or supermarket. You don’t need more than this unless you have had a blood test to say you are deficient and in which case to need to consult your doctor for a course of treatment.
- What about Iron and Soy products?
Unless your doctor has tested you and told you have an Iron deficiency then you should not take an Iron supplement and long term Iron supplements can do more harm than good. A healthy balanced diet can give you the iron you need.
Soy contains a plant oestrogen which is similar but weaker than human oestrogen and for some women can help reduce symptoms like hot flushes. Sources of these can be found in soya milks, yogurts, soya and linseed breads.
- Should sugar and salt be reduced?
Women should follow the same recommendations as the general public of 30g sugar a day and 6g salt. If they are eating more than this then they should reduce their intake, especially if trying to lose weight.
- Need more info?
For general advice the BDA have produced a really good fact sheet.
Or if you would like more specific, bespoke advice for your health needs contact Dimple Thakrar at Fresh Nutrition on Tel : 07855502952
Would be great to chat to you.
Thanks so much