Menopause : Reduce The Symptoms Through Right Food And Exercise

Do you know that you can reduce the symptoms of menopause with the right food and exercise? Read on to know more about menopause and ways to deal with the symptoms.

By Monali Bordoloi

Menopause : Reduce The Symptoms Through Right Food And Exercise
Pilates exercises are known to reduce menopause symptoms 

Mandira Prabhu's mother often suffers from symptoms of menopause like dry skin, urinary infection, irritation and depression. In her late fifties, Mandira’s mother, Lakshmi, experiences many physical symptoms before and after her menopause. Apart from the physical discomfort, Mandira needs to support her mother emotionally too as menopause brings along many psychological issues as well.

Like Mandira’s mother, many women are unaware of the changes that menopause brings. It is advisable to know in advance the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause and equip yourself to deal with the symptoms.

Physical symptoms:

Dr Kavya Krishnakumar, a gynaecologist from Chennai says, “Menopause marks the end of reproductive life for a woman. It is a big milestone in a women’s life. Many physical changes take place during and after menopause. As the female hormones are in short supply during that time, the first change you will notice is that your skin can become thin and dry.”

Other symptoms of menopause are: Hot flushes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, painful intercourse, insomnia, depression, an urgency to pass urine, recurrent urinary infection, risks of osteoporosis, heart disease and increased risks of fractures. Dr Kavya adds, “Menopause is a natural process. Treatment mostly aims at reducing the discomfort of the symptoms."

Psychological effects of menopause:

Dr Sulata Shenoy, a psychologist from Bangalore says, “Menopause is not a sickness or disease. But it is fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. Estrogen nurtures both the body and mind. As it declines during menopause, the body and the mind can react differently.”

In many women, there may be visible signs of irritability, frustration, crying spells and mood swings. Or the person may become outwardly withdrawn and non-communicative but agitated and depressed inside. A person who was earlier calm and poised may become snappy and remote. Feeling depressed and nervous is not uncommon during the period.

Dr Sulata adds, ”Menopause should not bring a change in your life, you can continue to do the activities you were earlier doing. Yoga and meditation help greatly. Pursuing a hobby such as reading, gardening, socialising and exercising will help you make menopause easier.”

How to deal with it:

Eat right: A right diet can help you fight the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Plan your diet sensibly and keep yourself well-hydrated. Research says that eating Omega-3 enriched food help in dealing with depression and psychological distress associated with menopause. If you are experiencing the symptoms of menopause, try including the following foods in your diet:

  1. Whole grain: Metabolism slows down for women nearing menopause years. Include whole grains like oats, millets, brown rice and barley in your diet. It will help in smooth functioning of your digestive system.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: Make fruits and vegetables a part of your diet, it will prevent weight-gain in and around menopausal years. They will also provide essential nutrients needed for your body. 
  3. Calcium: Try to consume between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Natural sources of calcium are all dairy products, sardines, broccoli, etc.
  4. Vitamin D: Sun rays provide Vitamin D, which is good during menopause as it protects the bones. Consult a doctor if you need any supplement.

Be active: Try to be physically active, it helps in dealing with symptoms of menopause. Exercising during menopause can prevent weight gain, reduce cancer risk and protect the bones. In general, it boosts your mood.

Try Pilates: Pilates is a type of exercise which improves your posture, balance, and flexibility. It has specifically shown benefit in reducing all menopausal symptoms like urinary tract infection and vaginal dryness. Pilates also helps in reducing sleep problems and hot flashes. A round of Pilates in the morning will regulate your sleep patterns. 

Read the importance of sleep for your mental health. Click here to read.

Do Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises are done to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. If you have experienced urine incontinence along with other menopause symptoms, try Kegel exercises. Practice Kegel three to four times in a week, you will see improvements in the symptoms.

Practice deep breathing: Try the deep breathing techniques to keep calm in any stressful situation. Stress can also trigger menopause symptoms like night sweating, hot flushes.

With a little care, exercise and a balanced diet, you can lead a healthy and happy life during your menopause years.

With inputs from Dr Kavya Krishnakumar, gynaecologist, Chennai and Dr Sulata Shenoy, psychologist, Director, Turning Point, centre for psychological assessments, therapies and counselling, Bengaluru

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