Foods for a Long, Healthy Life
As we get older, we want to maximise our health and these foods will help you do that.
At menopause so many things start changing: your hormone balance, your weight, your skin and often your sleep too. Some things we cannot avoid as we age, but there are definitely ways to make the most of our years.
Antioxidants and Aging
Free radicals are molecules that can damage healthy cells. They can make you more likely to get certain diseases, like cancer, and speed up aging.
Foods rich in antioxidants can help fight those molecules and here is a list to keep in mind when shopping
Goji Berries, Berries such as Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries. Artichokes, Kale, Red Cabbage, Beans, Beetroot and Spinach which is one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables so channel Popeye!.
You are aiming for a mix of different colours in your fruit and vegetables and between five to nine servings of those each day and frozen have often as much nutrient value as fresh.
Olive Oil Is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and contains large amounts of antioxidants.
It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, may help boos memory – the dreaded ‘brain fog’ of menopause and is protective against heart disease and strokes.
One study also showed that olive oil helps lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) without affecting “good” cholesterol (HDL).
Bertie Wooster always referred to it in the P G Wodehouse novels as “brain food” and he was quite right to do so.
It does this because its fatty acids, DHA and EPA, can help your brain and nervous system work the way they should.
Eating fish one or two times a week may also make you less likely to have dementia. Omega-3 fats found in fatty fish, like salmon and trout, can lower “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides.
It can also help ease the inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis, when fatty deposits clog your arteries.
Beans come in many guises from the humble baked bean to the more exotic and adding these nutritional powerhouses to your diet three or four times a week will make a huge difference.
The fibre may help with digestion and help lower your chances of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. And because they make you feel full longer, a diet high in fibre may help you lose weight, too.
Most healthy beans are: chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans and Pinto beans.
No surprise there as they have fibre, antioxidants, and loads of vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases.
Dark, leafy greens have vitamin K for strong bones. Sweet potatoes and carrots have vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy and protects against infection.
Results are mixed, but in one study, men who ate 10 or more servings of tomatoes a week lowered their chances of prostate cancer by 35%.
We tend to avoid them or fear putting on weight, but in moderation they are packed with cholesterol-free plant protein and other nutrients.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which can help lower the risk of stroke in women, and pecans have antioxidants. The unsaturated fats in walnuts can help lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol.
Unfortunately they aren’t fat-free so go for fresh, unsalted nuts in small amounts.
This can be tricky as many people do have dairy sensitivity so experiment and see what works for you as it can be a way to increase calcium, especially if fortified with vitamin D, like milk.
Vitamin D may also help lower your chances of colon, breast, and prostate cancers.
If you are concerned about osteoporosis you do need calcium, but also a range of other nutrients as well, so milk alone won’t do it.
Eat yogurt with live cultures to help with digestion and that can be from cow, goat or sheep sources.
People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
They are important sources of many nutrients, including fibre, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium).
Adding these to your diet may lower your chances of certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The fibre also may help prevent digestive problems like constipation and diverticular disease.
Choose whole-grain breads and pastas, and brown or wild rice instead of white.
People who live near the Mediterranean regularly include olive oil, fish, vegetables, and whole grains in their meals, along with an occasional glass of red wine.
Instead of salt, they use spices and herbs to flavour their foods and this is a great way of eating for heart health, and it may lower your chances of mild memory issues and some kinds of cancer.
Watch your weight
I know this is much easier said than done, especially at menopause as women start shifting oestrogen production from the ovaries into the fat cells of the abdomen, hips and thighs.
Making the effort to lose weight has many bonuses as losing extra pounds can put less pressure on your joints and less strain on your heart, and might lower your chances of diabetes.
Hormone balance can be key here as oestrogen dominance definitely will not help your weight.
A couple of ideas are having smaller meals with healthy snacks in between, and don’t fill up on foods that are high in sugar or fat, or you won’t get the nutrients you need.
If you are not sure if you are oestrogen dominant then h ere are some articles that can help, together with a practical diet to help you lose weight.