Navigating Menopause: Superfoods and Miracle Diets

By Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN

Menopause officially kicks in 12 months after your last period, but before you pop the champagne, there’s perimenopause—the seemingly endless pregame where your body decides to throw a hormone-fueled rave.

You might notice changes in your monthly cycles, experience hot flashes, or endure a medley of other unsavory symptoms including weight gain, mood swings and insomnia. Fun times being a woman, especially between the ages of 45 and 55 while this party is raging. While I am neither an OBGYN nor a nutritionist who specializes in menopause, I am a woman who has gone through and is still enduring this shitshow firsthand. 

So let’s talk about the reality of biological changes every woman goes through. In perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. This hormone not only regulates the menstrual cycle, but it also impacts the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain. Eventually the ovaries stop producing estrogen, menstruation stops, and you are officially in menopause. But here’s the catch—menopause is not the end, postmenopause is next where those unsavory symptoms can continue for a decade or longer. Plus, with the lower estrogen levels, women are now at an increased risk for several health conditions including vasomotor symptoms, urogenital atrophy, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, psychiatric symptoms, cognitive decline, and sexual problems.

There is no superfood or miracle diet for menopause.

I don't know about you, but this leaves me pretty darn depressed. Despite being solution-oriented, even my expertise hits a wall because—spoiler alert—there is no menopause superfood or miracle diet. At least I haven’t found it to help mitigate this shitstorm!

As someone who eats mostly whole foods, follows a plant-forward lifestyle, rarely touches sweets or ultra-processed foods, barely drinks (we’re talking 3-5 glasses of wine a year), regularly exercises, gets 8 hours of sleep a night, and has a solid work-life balance, you’d think I’d have this menopause thing under control. But nope! My body is still not back to baseline. So, where does that leave me?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Eating fresh, whole, plant foods: This keeps me healthy and balanced.

  • Limiting dairy: It makes a noticeable difference.

  • Avoiding inflammatory foods: Ultra-processed foods, sugar, and alcohol are best left out.

And let’s not forget the research. Don’t fall for the hype from social media influencers and pseudo health experts. There is promising data on the positive impact of foods containing phytoestrogens—plant-derived compounds that mimic estrogen. Phytoestrogen-rich foods include legumes (like soy), fruits, and vegetables. These should be part of any healthy diet, even without needing more research to convince you!

The truth? There is no superfood or miracle diet for menopause. Bottom line, as Michael Pollan offers, eat real, fresh, whole foods, not too much, and mostly plants.

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