Menopause symptoms: Key behavioural changes to improve hot flushes and mood changes

Penny Lancaster discusses her menopause 'brain fog'

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Typical menopausal symptoms include mood swings, hot flushes – when the face and body rapidly become hot – and trouble sleeping. How can you help ease the natural progression of ageing? The gradual process can take around four years, which means some women could face irksome symptoms for that same amount of time. As hormonal levels dip, key “behavioural changes” could help improve the symptoms when going through the change.

This includes lifestyle measures such as eating a healthy diet and taking part in regular bouts of exercise.

The British Nutrition Foundation said: “Physical activity can help to manage some menopause symptoms.”

Meanwhile, “smoking and drinking alcohol can increase the likelihood of some menopause symptoms”.

Menopausal symptoms can include:

  • Psychological problems (e.g. anxiety and depression)
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary problems
  • lLack of interest in sex
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headaches.

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In the long-term, oestrogen depletion can cause changes to bones and the cardiovascular system.

This means post-menopausal women have an increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Osteoporosis.

In order to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms – and to ward off future disease – it’s imperative to:

  • Be a non-smoker
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Do regular exercises
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

A healthy diet

As a key way to help minimise menopausal symptoms, what does a truly healthy diet consist of?

“For menopausal and post-menopausal women there are aspects of the diet that are especially important,” the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) stated.

This involves foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone strength and density.

Food sources include:

  • Lower-fat dairy products
  • Leafy greens, such as watercress and kale
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dried figs
  • Sardines
  • Eggs.

“It is recommended that everyone takes a daily supplement containing 10μg of vitamin D,” the BNF added.

To improve heart health, top dietary tips include replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat.

One example is to swap butter and coconut oil for rapeseed, olive, and sunflower oils.

Another way to protect the heart is to eat one oily fish per week, such as:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines.

Also make sure you’re not adding extra salt onto your food or during the cooking process.

High-fibre and wholegrain foods are also good additions to your diet.

Buy whole grain varieties of breakfast cereals, pasta, lentils, and beans.

And, of course, it’s helpful to eat the minimum recommended intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday.

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