Why is it so important that I eat a healthy diet after menopause?
We all tend to gain weight as we age due to decreased activity and loss of muscle mass. Unfortunately, we find the calorie counts that worked for us when we were younger are likely too high as we get older.
Additionally, for menopausal women, a decrease in estrogen leads to a shift of fat to the mid-section. This “belly fat” obesity has been linked to serious health conditions such as certain cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and low-fat dairy—combined with regular physical activity—can help you maintain a healthy weight. And eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other cancers.
Bone loss in women begins at about age 35, accelerates in the 4-5 years around menopause, and continues as we age. In order to prevent osteoporosis, it is essential that all women, but especially midlife women, consume adequate dietary calcium, vitamin D (important for calcium absorption) and exercise regularly. For women over 50, the recommended daily allowance for calcium is 1200 mg – about 2- 3 servings of calcium-rich food. Talk with your health care provider about your diet to determine if you might benefit from a calcium and/or vitamin D supplement.
Dr. Lisa Larkin is a board-certified internist practicing internal medicine and women’s health since 1991. She is the Founder and CEO of Ms. Medicine, LLC, a national membership organization for women’s health clinicians and a concierge women’s health primary care network. She is also the owner and President of Lisa Larkin, MD, and Associates, an independent, multispecialty practice offering direct primary care (DPC), concierge primary care and women’s health care in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, she serves as Director of Women’s Corporate Health for TriHealth, and she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Cincinnati Sexual Health Consortium, a non-profit designed to improve the sexual health and wellness of individuals in the Greater Cincinnati region through improved clinician collaboration and community outreach.
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