Eat Your Way Through Menopause - Part 2
Managing menopause through food strategies is really as simple as knowing which foods to add to your diet and which to avoid. It really isn't rocket science, but it does take some investigation and a willingness to make changes if necessary. Most of us have been educated in recent years to understand there are foods that are good for us and foods that, while tasting good, make little or no contribution to our good health.
As We Said...
We've discussed the downfall of soy and know that fermented soy products are really the way to eat soy, if you want to eat it. Including more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet not only boosts fiber, they give incredible health benefits in terms of vitamins and minerals. Organic fruits and veggies are the best, if you can get them. Otherwise, there are vegetable washes you can purchase that clean and neutralize (to some degree) the pesticides that are used by growers and that aren't fit for human consumption.
We talked about the concept of using beans more. These little powerhouses pack all kinds of nutrients into tiny packages. They're low-fat sources of protein; they add fiber and contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals. They can be added into salads, stews, and other dishes or made into a dip or soup. Another added benefit of beans is that you feel full longer because they absorb more slowly. That means your appetite will be more controlled. Don't discount these great additions to your diet, especially when you're eating your way through menopause.
You Need Fat!
The next item on our list is fat. Of course, we know that it is important to avoid saturated fat in our diets. High fat foods are higher in calories and lower in nutritional value, just what you don't need when you are going through menopause, especially if weight is becoming an issue. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are found in many fast foods and prepackaged foods like crackers, cookies and chips.
However, let us not distain the word "fat" because we need fat in our diet. We just have to make sure it is the right kind of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to protect your heart health and they may help prevent certain cancers. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, olive oil and canola oil. You can build good fats into your diet by switching to olive or canola oil to cook with and to add to your salads. Eat more fish and less animal protein, which tends to have more saturated fat. Choose lean cuts of meat and choose dairy items that are lower fat. Read labels to see what foods have hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. You'll find them mostly in packaged foods in the form of hydrogenated omega-6 oils. If you can avoid them, do so. If you use margarine, find tub margarines that are primarily olive oil or canola oil based.
Be Wise About What You Drink
What you drink will make a big difference to how your kidneys function and how your skin looks. Even though we know we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, most of us don't. Water is important to keep the kidneys flushed. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a diuretic (coffee, tea) and causes the kidneys to excrete more water than they should. This leads to dehydration. Other beverages that aid and abet dehydration include alcohol and carbonated drinks that can lower the amount of calcium your body takes in from food or cause your body to lose too much calcium through the kidneys.
Getting Your Fruits in Liquid Form
Fruit juices are loaded with phytochemicals (remember phytoestrogen?) and are a great way to get fluids in without sacrificing your health. Calcium fortified orange juice or tangerine juice gives you vitamin C and folic acid. Carrot juice is an excellent way to get three important phytochemicals; phenolic acids, terpenes and carotenoids (beta carotene). Antioxidants fill purple grape juice and dark red berry juices. Just remember that juices do tend to be higher in calories and sugar (albeit natural sugars), so don't use them to replace water consumption.
We'll cover more strategies in our next article as your Eat You Way Through Menopause.