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Navigating Veganism During Menopause

Whether it's mood swings, hot flushes or weight gain, the symptoms of menopause can be debilitating for many women. So it's no surprise that we look for ways to alleviate them. One natural approach that has gained popularity is adopting a vegan lifestyle.

vegan food
The Vegan Diet and Menopause

Weight Management: A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found those who followed a plant-based diet tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those consuming animal products.

Healthier Heart: According to the American Heart Association, vegans tend to have lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease, helping lower blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health.

Reduced Cancer Risk: The World Cancer Research Fund suggests that a plant-based diet may lower the risk of certain cancers, particularly those linked to high red and processed meat consumption.

Hot Flushes And Mood Swings: Phytoestrogens can help alleviate some menopausal symptoms and you'll find them soy, flaxseeds and chickpeas. A report in the journal Menopause suggested women who consumed higher amounts of phytoestrogens experienced fewer hot flushes.

Nutritional Challenges

So yes, there are definite benefits. But it's important to remember that our nutritional needs change as we age. A woman in their 50s, for example, should pay particular attention to her intake of vitamins B12 and D, calcium and iron - and these specifically can be lacking in a vegan diet.

Essential Vitamins: Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, so you may need to include it through fortified foods or supplements as a deficiency can lead to anaemia and nervous system issues. Adequate vitamin D is also important for bone health and overall wellbeing, so safe sun exposure and fortified foods are common sources.

Calcium: Critical for maintaining strong and healthy bones. As women age, especially after menopause, they are at an increased risk of bone loss, osteoporosis and fractures. Cow's milk is a naturally rich source of calcium, providing approximately 300 mg of calcium per 8-ounce (240 ml) serving. The calcium content in plant-based milk alternatives can vary widely, so look for fortified almond, soy or rice milk as they often contain a similar amount; however coconut milk typically has a lot less. Other sources can leafy greens, almonds and tofu.

Iron: You may experience high levels of tiredness and decreased energy levels during menopause. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen in the blood to body tissues - if levels are low, this can result in fatigue and weakness. Plant-based sources of iron are less easily absorbed by the body than heme iron from animal products. so combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods to enhance absorption.

Protein: Maintaining muscle mass and strength is crucial for overall health, especially as we age. During menopause, a decrease in oestrogen can lead to a loss of muscle mass and an increased risk of sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). While it's entirely possible to get enough protein from plant sources, you will need to be mindful of how much is in your diet. Ensure you're including plenty of legumes, tofu, tempeh and quinoa.

Making The Transition

Educate yourself and learn about the sources of key nutrients and explore vegan recipes online or via social media to ensure you get a balanced diet right from the start. And remember, you don't have to go make the change overnight. Transition gradually, starting with Meatless Mondays or one meal a day, to make the process more manageable.

A vegan diet offers a range of benefits for women during menopause, but it also presents nutritional challenges that require careful attention. Stay informed, seeking advice from a professional nutritionist or connect with the vegan community to make the transition with confidence.


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