Menopause and Nutrition

As one approaches menopause, weight gain becomes a primary concern. Women who have had a weight problem in the past find it harder to lose the additional weight gained during menopause. Women who have maintained their weight over the years find that they have to work much harder to keep the pounds off. While there some experts who claim that the fluctuation in a woman's hormone level is the cause for weight gain, others believe it is due to an increase in age and the decrease in muscle mass and metabolism. Who can really say? The key to keeping the weight off, in any stage of a woman's life, is through a combination of diet and exercise which should begin during the perimenopausal stage.

It seems that menopause and nutrition go hand in hand. It is generally thought that after the age of 50, a woman needs to increase her calcium intake. Because bone mass begins to decrease, and bones become more brittle, calcium is a preventative measure to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, which may occur after menopause. Doctors recommend that menopausal women increase their daily intake of vitamin C to 1200 to 1500 milligrams a day. Vitamins D and B12 are also essential components which should be incorporated into one's diet.

It is recommended that the fat intake should be less than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake while targeting foods low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. It is a good idea to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereal products during perimenopause and menopause, especially those foods high in vitamin C and beta carotene. Persons of all ages should consume 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily and this is especially important for older adults. Foods and drinks containing processed sugar should be avoided, as many of these products contain empty calories and promote weight gain. Salt-cured and smoked foods such as sausages, smoked fish, ham, bacon, bologna, and hot dogs should be avoided. These foods are high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure, which is a serious risk factor for aging women.

Regular exercise not only benefits the heart and bones and helps regulate weight, but can elevate one's mood and create a sense of balance within. Women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

While dieting and good nutrition habits are important when we are young, they are a vital component of good health when we reach menopause. If you have never exercised regularly before, now is the time to begin. It is now that you are most vulnerable to the effects menopause has on your body. Think of it as just another adjustment you have to make to fully enjoy your life.

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