Oestrogen diminishes as we transition into menopause. This can lead to a rapid decrease in bone density. Along with dietary modifications, exercise and in particular strength training we can counteract changes that occur in our bodies at this time (Muscle & Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women, Agostini et al., 2018)
Strength Training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to help build strength, endurance and muscle mass. Examples of strength training include lifting weights, resistance bands, push ups, pull up, squats, hill walking, cycling, yoga, certain high intensity exercise classes. These weight bearing activities put stress on our bones and can help with improving bone density.
Protein & Carbohydrates
As we approach menopause we can become more sensitive to certain types of carbohydrates. The decline in oestrogen means we can become more insulin resistant. The body will produce more insulin which can trigger fat storage and make us more sensitive to blood sugar highs and lows (Transdermal 17-beta-estradiol and risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a population of healthy, nonobese postmenopausal women, Rossi et al., 2004).
The type of carbohydrates we consume becomes even more important. Choose slow releasing carbohydrates that will be absorbed slowly into the body like oats, brown rice, high fibre breads, helping to avoid rapid spikes in insulin.
At this time, it becomes more difficult for the body to use the protein we eat into the muscle we need (Testosterone and progesterone, but not estradiol, stimulate muscle protein synthesis in postmenopausal women, Smith et al., 2013).
In order to recover optimally from training and exercise, consume high quality protein with your recovery meal like eggs, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. This will help build and repair muscle. Be sure to include slow releasing carbohydrates to further aid the recovery process.
Using fibre during menopause can prevent constipation, lower cholesterol and blood glucose. Using fibre-rich products instead of refined carbohydrates like pasta and white bread will help with digestive health and the general feeling of wellbeing at this time. Including 250g of vegetables with your main meal would be advised.
Fibre rich foods include beans, lentils, wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, chia seeds and linseeds.
High Fibre Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
- 200ml of milk of your choice
- 1 tsp of maple syrup
- 4 Tbsp of Chia Seeds
- Half cup of berries
- In a large bowl mix together the coconut milk, maple syrup and chia seeds.
- Chill in the fridge and allow the mixture to set overnight.
- When removed from the fridge, stir well. The mixture should be thick and the chia seeds should have gelled.
- Serve with berries or fresh fruits of your choice.
Serves 2-4 persons depending on portion
Written by Sinead Bradbury, Performance Nutritionist SENr