Menopause is a normal part of aging and it usually happens after 40 years when the ovaries stop/reduce producing the estrogen & progesterone hormone and the ovulation stops. While this is a natural phenomenon, women go through a huge change both physically and psychologically during this period.
Hot flashes, mood swings, depression, headache, insomnia etc are common symptoms around this time. Women are also more prone to osteoporosis, heart diseases, muscle loss etc after menopause. Menopause starts with a Perimenopause stage that may last a few years where the ovaries gradually produce lesser and lesser amounts of estrogen.
Estrogen is important for bone health in women. Since the estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, women are more prone to osteoporosis.
Include food such as dairy products, meat, fish etc that are rich in calcium, Vit-D, phosphorous etc for bone health. Omega 3 fatty acids (Fish oil capsules) can reduce inflammation and hot flashes, apart from even fighting depression and improving the mood (anecdotal evidence only). Include antioxidant-rich food as they reduce the effect of aging. Phytoestrogen (plant estrogen such as isoflavones) containing food such as soy chunks, peanuts, chickpeas etc may also relieve the symptoms of menopause. Further, reduce the intake of alcohol, caffeine, high sodium, and spicy food.
Exercise during and after menopause offers great benefits. Women tend to lose muscles during menopause and they are more prone to gaining body fat. Exercise also evokes the pleasure centers of the brain and produces happy hormones – serotonin and dopamine which are brilliant mood elevators. A combination of aerobic, strength training & yoga will do wonders – especially during the perimenopausal stage and beyond