Menopause can be a difficult time even for the healthiest women. Fluctuating levels of estrogen can lead to other health concerns, and those dreaded hot flashes are not only uncomfortable and annoying — they can also affect sleep patterns. Low estrogen can lead to bone loss, with the risk of osteoporosis. It also causes skin changes, since it affects the body’s collagen, and tooth and gum changes, as it affects connective tissue. However, there are things you can do to counter these effects and stay healthy during menopause — even without resorting to hormone replacement therapy and other medications.
Fight Menopause Symptoms with Diet and Exercise Watching your diet and engaging in regular aerobic exercise can have a profound effect on menopausal symptoms. WebMD offers nutritional recommendations for women experiencing menopause. It is important to get ample calcium, iron and fiber. For calcium, you can consume dairy products, or if you’re lactose intolerant, calcium is also present in fish that contains bones (canned salmon and sardines), legumes and broccoli. Iron is found in fish, poultry and lean red meat, but vegetarians can get iron by eating leafy green vegetables, enriched grain products and nuts. Foods high in fiber include cereal, rice, pasta, whole grain bread, vegetables and fresh fruits. You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and avoid or limit foods that are high in fat. Daily aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) keeps the body healthy and also helps to reduce stress, which can exacerbate hot flashes.
Hot Flash “Trigger Foods” to Avoid Foods you should greatly limit or stay away from if you’re experiencing hot flashes include spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. You should definitely avoid these within a few hours of bedtime.
Relaxation Techniques for a Healthy Mind During Menopause Menopause can also bring about mood changes and anxiety which might keep you up at night, along with the hot flashes. Stress is also a trigger for hot flashes, so it’s especially important during menopause to maintain a healthy emotional state as well as a healthy body. Relaxation techniques for menopause might include yoga, meditation, deep breathing and any other calming activities.
Improving Sleep for Better Menopause Health Peaceful, uninterrupted sleep strengthens the immune system and keeps your body and mind healthy. However, this isn’t always possible during menopause, especially if you’re getting night sweats. Try reducing the thermostat in your bedroom at night or use a fan, keep a glass of cold water nearby and consider using moisture-wicking sleepwear that will move sweat away from your body to keep you cool. You can also get bedding that helps regulates your body temperature.