top of page

Will Changing My Diet Help With Menopause Symptoms? 

Part 2- The Not-So-Good Stuff

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if we want to optimize our health as we age, we would all benefit from significantly reducing or eliminating the following things from our diet:

Highly Processed Foods: While direct research specifically linking processed foods to worsened menopausal symptoms is limited, there is substantial evidence that processed foods can affect overall health and exacerbate symptoms commonly associated with menopause. Here are the issues:

  1. Increased Inflammation:

  • Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and additives, which can promote inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues and can exacerbate symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, and mood swings, which are common during menopause.

  1. Weight Gain and Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Processed foods are typically high in calories, sugars, and unhealthy fats, contributing to weight gain and the development of metabolic syndrome. Weight gain, particularly abdominal fat, is a common concern during menopause due to hormonal changes.

  1. Blood Sugar Spikes and Insulin Resistance:

  • Highly processed foods often have a high glycemic index, causing rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations can lead to insulin resistance, which is more common during menopause and can exacerbate symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, and weight gain.

  1. Poor Nutrient Density:

  • Processed foods are typically low in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. During menopause, the need for certain nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium increases to support bone health and overall well-being.

  1. Impact on Mood and Mental Health:

  • Diets high in processed foods have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, which can be exacerbated by the hormonal changes during menopause.

  1. Gut Health:

  • Processed foods can negatively impact gut health by altering the gut microbiome and reducing the diversity of beneficial bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is important for overall health and can influence mood, immune function, and weight management.

Added Sugar: This does not include the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit. For most people, fruit is always a great choice. Fruit juice, on the other hand, does not have the fiber that helps us regulate our blood sugar. Limiting juice and added sugar intake can help with the following:

  1. Weight Management:

  • Excess sugar consumption can contribute to weight gain, which is a common concern during menopause due to hormonal changes. By reducing sugar intake, women can better manage their weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related health issues.

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation:

  • Menopausal women may experience fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to mood swings, fatigue, and cravings. Limiting sugar intake helps stabilize blood sugar levels, promoting stable energy levels and mood.

  1. Hormonal Balance:

  • High sugar consumption can disrupt hormonal balance, exacerbating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability. By reducing sugar intake, women can support hormonal balance and alleviate these symptoms.

  1. Bone Health:

  • Excessive sugar intake has been linked to increased inflammation and decreased bone density, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis, a common concern for menopausal women. Limiting sugar helps protect bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.

  1. Cardiovascular Health:

  • Menopause is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, and excessive sugar consumption can contribute to cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. By reducing sugar intake, women can support heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Caffeine and Alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol are the topics that many physicians don't want to talk about, but they can affect perimenopausal and menopausal women in several ways:

  1. Hormonal Fluctuations:

  • Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt hormone levels, leading to increased fluctuations in estrogen and other hormones during perimenopause and menopause. This can exacerbate symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability.

  1. Sleep Disturbances:

  • Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep patterns, making it harder for women experiencing menopausal sleep disturbances to fall asleep and stay asleep. Similarly, while alcohol may initially make it easier to fall asleep, it can disrupt sleep quality and lead to nighttime awakenings.

  1. Bone Health:

  • Excessive caffeine intake has been associated with decreased calcium absorption, which can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis, a common concern for menopausal women. Similarly, heavy alcohol consumption can impair bone formation and increase the risk of fractures.

  1. Mood and Mental Health:

  • Caffeine and alcohol can both affect mood and mental health, potentially exacerbating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood swings that are common during perimenopause and menopause.

  1. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats:

  • Caffeine and alcohol are known triggers for hot flashes and night sweats, two of the most common symptoms of menopause. Consuming these substances may increase the frequency or intensity of these symptoms in susceptible women.

Overall, while moderate consumption of caffeine does not have significant risks for most menopausal women, excessive intake can worsen symptoms and contribute to overall health concerns. Alcohol, on the other hand, is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization – this is the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos, radiation, and tobacco. Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, including the most common cancer types, such as bowel and breast cancer, and there is no level of alcohol consumption that is considered safe for our health. The risks also appear to be higher in postmenopausal women.


bottom of page