Five Nutrition Tips for Women Before, During, and After Menopause
A woman’s body changes as she approaches menopause. The ovaries secrete less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone as fertility declines and these changes come at a time when certain nutrients are processed differently. As part of its guideline on nutrition across the female lifecycle, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) has five nutrition tips for better health for women to follow as they approach and enter menopause and for the years beyond.
Tip # 1: Eat fewer calories and choose them wisely
Many women at this stage of life say that weight gain is a concern. Because energy requirements diminish as age progresses, a modest calorie restriction can help manage this. While restricting calories, health and nutrition experts advise selecting nutrient-dense foods. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, beans and healthy fats, moderate in alcohol, and lower in refined grains, red and processed meats, sugars, and salt is associated with a decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and some forms of dementia while providing the body with essential nutrients.
Tip # 2: Eat more protein more frequently
Women lose muscle mass as they age and this accelerates around menopause. Adequate protein intake can help women sustain muscle mass but how protein is consumed should be modified with age. Younger women tend to eat more protein at dinnertime and their daily recommended intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For older women, research increasingly supports a protein increase to 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As well, older adults absorb protein better when consumption is spread across meals throughout the day. Snacking suggestions include a half-cup of cottage cheese, which delivers around 11 grams of protein, a half cup of greek yogurt, which provides around 10 grams, or a handful (1oz) of almonds, which deliver about 6 grams of protein.
Tip # 3: Be picky about what kind of carbs you eat
Insulin is a hormone that plays a role in how glucose (sugar) is metabolized in the body and converted into energy. Glucose is the energy source of many carbohydrates. Insulin resistance increases with age and is associated with weight gain around the midsection and type 2 Diabetes. To manage this, it is recommended that women approaching menopause select low-glycemic carbohydrates, which create smaller spikes in blood glucose, and consume these at different times throughout the day. Low-glycemic carbohydrate sources include yams and sweet potatoes, steel cut oats, apples, chickpeas, lentils, and breads made from heavy mixed grains like pumpernickel.
Tip # 4: Love your bones with nutrients and exercise
Bone mineral density decreases with age and rapid losses are associated with menopause. Multiple nutrients are linked to increased bone density, notably protein and calcium, and also magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C. A calcium supplement should be taken in divided doses throughout the day or in slow release form to help the body absorb it. A diet rich in these nutrients as well as an active lifestyle including weight-bearing exercise, core-strength training, resistance training, and aerobic exercise is recommended to help preserve bone mass and reduce the likelihood of falls and fractures.
Tip # 5: Say goodbye to fad diets
For all stages in life, the best diet for women is one that includes a balance of nutrient-rich foods. But as women enter menopause it is even more important that such foods are consumed regularly and that weight loss be gradual and accompanied by adequate nutrition and exercise. Otherwise, weight loss in this stage of life may come from losses in lean body mass rather than fat loss. Menopause is a great time to say goodbye to yo-yo and fad diets.
Black Bean Burgers
Black beans are a good source of plant protein, so are a great base for these delicious vegetarian burgers. Load them up with traditional burger toppings like tomato, lettuce and onion.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin
1 sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 can (540 mL) PC Blue Menu Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 PC Free-Run Brown Egg - Large, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125 mL) panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp (15 mL) PC Honey Mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook green onions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapeño and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in sweet potato; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to large bowl; let cool.
- Mash three-quarters of the beans in separate large bowl with a fork. Stir in remaining whole beans, cooled sweet potato mixture, egg, panko, mustard, lime juice, salt and pepper, mixing until combined. Shape into eight patties.
- Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat in same skillet. Add half of patties; cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden and crisp. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil and remaining patties.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through. If desired, serve on a lettuce leaf or bun with your favourite sauces or chutney.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving: 170 calories, fat 6 g (of which 1 g is saturated), sodium 260 mg, carbohydrate 26 g, fibre 4 g, protein 6 g
Low in saturated fat
Excellent source of vitamin A
Source of fibre
For more information, please visit HerNutrition.ca