6 Foods to Avoid During Menopause
Are you in or about to enter menopause? Although the average woman experiences menopause between ages 45 and 55, many women begin to have symptoms in their late 30’s that can last into their 60’s.
Thorne’s Menopause Test is an easy at-home saliva test that can help you understand the hormones related to menopause.
And what you eat plays a big role in how you feel through this natural period of change.
Even though you don’t feel like yourself, consider your current diet and supplement routine with regard to how you can support your changing hormones, maintain comfortable body temperatures, manage mood, and stabilize energy levels to be the best “you” you can be.
We’ve made a list of foods you might want to avoid, along with better alternatives for each.
1. Cool down on the hot chocolate
Hot temperature drinks, in general, can make you more uncomfortable if you are already experiencing hot flashes. Although the sweetened chocolate can help with sweet cravings, hot chocolate mixes can be loaded with sugar and, when mixed with water, provide you with none of the nutrients you need.
Instead, opt for nutrient-rich, cold, whey chocolate milk. Milk, whether its cow’s, almond, or other, naturally contains or is fortified with the calcium and vitamin D that menopausal women need to support bone density, which is a primary health concern in this life stage.
Thorne’s Whey Protein Isolate – Chocolate is made with real cocoa, an ingredient rich in the flavanols that can be supportive for women going through menopause.*
Research has found an association between regular cocoa intake and improved vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women, providing support for arterial elasticity and healthy blood pressure levels.*1
Try one scoop of Thorne’s Whey Protein Isolate – Chocolate in eight ounces of cold milk to satisfy your chocolate craving and provide you not just with protein, but also vitamins and minerals important to your bones: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.*
If your diet doesn’t contain much calcium or vitamin D, then consider supplementing with Thorne’s Basic Bone Nutrients to support bone health.*
2. Quit caffeine
Even if your energy level is dragging, it’s best to not turn to coffee for an afternoon caffeine jolt. During menopause, you may already be experiencing sleep problems – which caffeine won’t help.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found caffeine intake is associated with worsened vasomotor symptoms of menopause, including night sweats and hot flashes.2
The jury is still out on whether or not moderate coffee intake is beneficial for other reasons, but we do know everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. Instead of caffeine, consider another option to help maintain steady energy levels.
Research has demonstrated that nicotinamide riboside, an active ingredient in Thorne’s ResveraCel®, is a direct precursor to NAD+, which supports mitochondrial biogenesis and energy production, and helps regulate metabolism and cellular aging.*
Adequate amounts of NAD+ improves mitochondrial energetics in the heart and boosts production of energy-creating ATP, which provides support for fatigued individuals.*
3. Ditch the doughnuts
Lowered levels of both estrogen and progesterone occur during menopause and can be a reason for increased sugar cravings. Fight the urge to grab calorie-dense, processed, and high-carbohydrate foods like doughnuts, cakes, and cookies.
Consuming these or other sugary foods starts a domino effect of hormone changes and energy swings and could lead to weight gain or a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Rather than a calorie-dense pastry, look for a nutrient-dense and tasty alternative. Foods packed with protein or fiber make you feel full and improve glucose control and the effect of insulin.
Try snacking on a bowl of oatmeal with added peanut butter for protein, berries that are low-carb and contain phytonutrients and antioxidants, and cinnamon to help stabilize your blood sugar response.
Looking for an even more convenient option? Thorne’s MediBolic® is a pea protein and rice protein formula that has added soluble fiber, a complete multi-vitamin/mineral complex, and additional unique botanicals and nutrients for individuals interested in weight management or to address metabolic syndrome.* It’s a protein powder with a vanilla-cinnamon flavor so you can mix and drink on-the-go.
4. Skip spicy foods
Spicy foods do provide a lot of heat that can boost your metabolic rate. In fact, research suggests that spices can increase energy expenditure upward of 130 kcals a day,3 a useful consideration in weight management.
But, like drinking hot-temperature beverages, eating spicy foods can also cause hot flashes, night sweats, or other temperature-control issues you can experience during menopause.
Green tea is popular for its antioxidant properties and its thermogenic (fat burning) effect, and Thorne’s Green Tea Phytosome supplement contains extracts that can increase natural energy expenditure and fat oxidation.*
Green Tea Phytosome is a decaf supplement, and the extract is backed by research showing an increase in metabolic rate, enhanced fat metabolism, and more weight loss compared to individuals who took a placebo on the same diet.*4 Or try Thorne’s MediBolic and cover several bases, since it also contains greet tea phytosome.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Insomnia is a major complaint of women going through menopause. It’s likely caused by decreased levels of estrogen, gradual age-related decreases in melatonin production, and increased incidence of night sweats. The biggest complaint includes difficulty falling or staying asleep, with frequent nocturnal and early morning awakenings.
Alcohol is known to decrease melatonin production, which is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycles.
Research shows that 2-3 alcoholic drinks consumed an hour before bed can decrease melatonin levels as much as 19 percent in females.5 Alcohol consumption is also associated with increased hot flashes.
Melatonin supplementation can benefit individuals with sleep difficulties associated with low melatonin levels.* Research indicates melatonin exerts its sleep-promoting efficacy by decreasing the amount of time needed to fall asleep, promoting the ability to stay asleep, and enhancing the depth of sleep.*
6. Forgo fatty cuts of meat
Depending on the rest of your diet and your current cardiovascular risk status, you might want to swap steaks or pork belly with a nice piece of fatty fish like salmon or albacore tuna.
Fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA that help to decrease cardiovascular disease risk, which increases in women when estrogen levels plummet.
One study found that women who regularly consume portions of fatty fish experience a 3.3-year delayed onset of natural menopause, which is in turn associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The same study also reported delayed menopause in women with higher intake of vitamin B6, zinc, and legumes.6
If you don’t eat fish or don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, then consider getting these essential fatty acids from a supplement, like Thorne’s Omega Plus, , which contains DHA and EPA from fish and also GLA from borage oil – all of which support healthy skin, bones, joints, heart, blood vessels, and respiratory systems.*
1. Okamoto T, Kobayashi R, Natsume M, Nakazato K. Habitual cocoa intake reduces arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women regardless of intake frequency: a randomized parallel-group study. Clin Interv Aging 2016;11:1645-1652.
3. Deng Y. Capsaicinoids enhance metabolic rate in normal healthy individuals using a novel metabolic tracker breezing device - an open label placebo controlled acute study. Obes Open Access 2017;3(2). doi:10.16966/2380-5528.129