Menopause brings a lot of change. Hot flashes, infrequent periods and mood swings are just some of the symptoms a woman can experience during this pivotal phase in life. While menopause only lasts a few years, it can have long-term effects on your health. Menopausal women are more at risk for developing certain diseases in the years to come.
Women can overcome the symptoms and potential health risks of menopause by making simple adjustments in their diet, lifestyle and exercise routine. Here are some healthy tips to help you thrive during and after menopause.
1: Add more calcium to your diet
The body loses calcium as it transitions into menopause. Estrogen aids in the absorption of calcium, a vital nutrient that helps you build strong bones. Estrogen levels drop during menopause, which can lead to lower bone density. Menopausal women are more at risk for skeletal diseases and sustaining bone fractures from falls.
Keep your bones strong during and after menopause by increasing your calcium intake. Foods rich in calcium include salmon, seeds, soybeans and dairy products. A calcium supplement could be beneficial for those who don’t get enough calcium from their diet. Consider adding more vitamin D as well, since this nutrient helps absorb calcium. The best source is the sun, but you can also get vitamin D from salmon, tuna, eggs and dietary supplements.
2: Create a healthy sleep routine
Menopausal women often struggle with poor sleep quality. Hot flashes can strike at the most inconvenient times, such as while you’re trying to sleep at night. Hot flashes cause a sudden spike in your core temperature, leading you to shift restlessly and break into a cold sweat. Frequent sleep disruptions can increase stress, daytime grogginess and other menopausal symptoms.
Improve your sleep quality by sticking to a consistent bedtime. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm so you feel alert during the day and tired at night. You need the right environment to fall and stay asleep, too. Remove electronics from the bedroom, install blackout curtains and wear earplugs if you have disruptive neighbors. Reduce the effects of hot flashes by dialing down the thermostat and switching to cooling bedsheets and light pajamas.
3: Exercise to protect your heart
Menopause puts women at greater risk for heart problems. Estrogen maintains flexibility in the blood vessels, which promotes blood flow to and from the heart. Blood vessels lose some of their flexibility during menopause, making it more difficult for blood to circulate through the body. This can lead to high blood pressure, especially in women who struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
Boost heart health by working regular exercise into your routine. Moderate exercise several times a week can lower blood pressure and help blood vessels become more flexible. Exercise can also help you lose weight, which takes stress off the cardiovascular system. You don’t have to complete a high-intensity workout every single day. You can reap the same health benefits through lighter activities like swimming, hiking and cycling.
4: Manage weight with healthy food
It becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight during menopause. Estrogen is an important hormone for regulating your metabolism. Once estrogen levels decrease, the metabolism slows down and makes it harder to burn fat. The drop in estrogen can also change how fat gets stored in the body, causing you to gain more weight than usual in certain places.
Despite having lower estrogen levels, it’s possible to achieve a healthy weight during menopause and in the years that follow. The key to weight management is regular exercise along with a balanced diet. Limit processed foods that contain added sugars, simple carbs and artificial preservatives. Swap fast food for homemade meals that incorporate lean proteins and fresh produce.
5: Practice stress-relieving techniques
Mood changes are some of the most common menopause symptoms. The transition causes estrogen levels to fluctuate, which has a direct impact on your mental health. Many women experience sudden bursts of stress or irritability during menopause. In some cases, menopause can worsen existing mental health conditions.
But menopause doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. You can mitigate the potential effects on your mood by learning how to reduce stress. There are many ways to lower stress and brighten your mood, such as journaling, yoga, mindful meditation and spending time with loved ones. You can also seek guidance from a licensed psychologist if your mood changes are significantly impacting your quality of life.
Most women aren’t too thrilled to go through menopause. However, it’s a natural part of life, and the best way forward is to embrace the change. Changes in your body provide the perfect opportunity to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing. You get to try new foods, activities and lifestyle habits, all of which can change your health for the better!