How eating a plant-based diet can ease the symptoms of menopause

Read Time:   |  8th March 2022

Dr Nitu Bajekal reveals what symptoms you can expect to experience and ways to manage the menopause with a plant-based diet.

The current average life expectancy of a woman in the UK is 81 and the average age of menopause all over the world is about 51.

This means that women now often live 30 years after their menopause; this period of their lives is extremely important.

What is the menopause and perimenopause?

Perimenopause can last between two to eight years (the average is four years) and is the lead up to menopause.

Perimenopause is a time, often in the early forties, when women and those assigned female at birth may notice hormonal fluctuations, period irregularities, and mood changes.

Menopause is defined as the final cessation of periods that occurs between the ages of 45-551 and marks the end of one’s reproductive phase.

The average age of menopause is 51 years around the world.

Both menopause and perimenopause may be marked with a number of physical and mental symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the menopause?

There should be education from early in life on what women can expect in this phase of life and what they can do to help themselves, as well as medical help that is available to them and reinforced throughout.

Around eight out of 10 women suffer from hot flushes2, the most common of the symptoms of menopause, but only two or three out of 10 have the confidence to seek medical advice.

Many say they feel dismissed or not taken seriously, or they feel they may be wasting a doctor’s time and often suffer silently.

There are more than 34 symptoms described and associated with the menopause.

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common. Others symptoms of menopause include:

  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Lowered libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary and bowel symptoms
  • Dry skin
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of concentration
  • Female pattern hair loss
  • Excess facial hair
  • Unwanted weight gain

Many of these symptoms of menopause start several years before, during the perimenopause.

Most symptoms settle in the vast majority a few years into the menopause, although one in 10 women have symptoms even a decade later2.

Many say they feel dismissed or not taken seriously, or they feel they may be wasting a doctor’s time and often suffer silently.

There are more than 34 symptoms described and associated with the menopause.

Find more information on plant-based diets here:

What are the lifestyle changes that can help in menopause?

Eating a wholefood plant-based diet3, addressing sleep hygiene (getting 7-9 hours of restorative sleep every night), managing stress through mindfulness and yoga, regular physical movement, and bone-strengthening weight resistance exercises to reduce the risk of muscle wasting and osteoporosis are all important.

So are avoiding alcohol, smoking and excess caffeine, and maintaining a positive social network.

Eating a plant-based diet helps with much more than just addressing the symptoms of menopause.

The same plant-based diet that helps with menopause symptoms also helps with better ageing, reduced dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, reduced heart disease and diabetes and reduced breast, prostate, bowel, womb and ovarian cancer risks, which are the biggest killers in the modern day.

Focus on eating a plant-based diet full of colourful micronutrient and antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and intact minimally processed wholegrains.

It’s a great idea to include plenty of herbs and spices too, as these increase the antioxidant power of any dish. Make water your drink of choice.

Most adults tend to steadily put on weight between the ages of 20 and 654, with women in the early menopausal years noticing unwanted weight gain and increased body fat distribution in the middle (middle age spread), as well as an increase in internal body fat.

This is the more dangerous kind, known as visceral fat, which is linked to insulin resistance, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain lifestyle cancers.

Hormonal fluctuations in the perimenopause and menopause, as well as sleep disturbances (for example, because of suffering from hot flushes and night sweats), increased levels of anxiety or depression as well as stress, make it both easier to put on weight and harder to lose it.

Eating a wholefood plant-based diet means you will eat nutrient-dense yet calorie-light, gut microbiome promoting, fibre-rich colourful foods, helping avoid unwanted weight gain.

What is my best advice for women entering this chapter of life?

Make lifestyle changes to the best of your ability starting today, empower yourself with the knowledge and do go ahead and seek medical advice from an empathetic health professional.

Do you suffer from migraines?

Find out how a plant-based diet can help ease migraine symptoms.

Written by

Dr. Nitu Bajekal

Dr. Nitu Bajekal

Dr Bajekal is a Consultant Gynaecologist and a Women’s Health Specialist with more than 35 years of clinical experience. She provides medical and holistic care for women. She is a member of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK

nitubajekal.com/about/

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