The menopause can be a stressful time in a woman's life, with significant changes and potential health problems causing a lot of worries. Medical treatments can help with some of the physical symptoms, and if the stress is particularly bad, it can be useful to talk to a therapist.
However, one of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself against further health problems and to improve your mood is to eat well. Here are some of the key nutrients women should be concerned with during and after menopause, and how to make sure you're getting enough.
During and after the menopause, women's bones become less dense. This is responsible for the higher rate of diseases like osteoporosis.
Calcium is never more important than at this stage of life, so make sure you're getting plenty from your diet. Dairy is well known as a good calcium source, but you can also get it from figs, almonds, kale and other dark leafy greens.
Calcium and vitamin D work together to keep bones strong, so this nutrient is just as important. Although you can get it from exposure to sunlight, this isn't possible all year in some parts of the world, and even in sunny places, you might not be outside enough. It's a good idea to supplement either with a vitamin pill or by eating fortified cereals and spreads.
Post-menopausal women have a higher risk of heart disease. Folic acid is one of the key nutrients in protecting against this, so it's a good idea to get plenty of it in your diet. You can do this by eating regular portions of leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, beans and rice.
There's some evidence that these substances can help with various menopause symptoms, including hot flushes. They mimic oestrogen in the body, so they can help replace some of your naturally lost levels. They're mainly found in soy, so eat edamame beans, tofu and other soy products to get a regular dose of them.
Fibre is important in protecting heart health and ensuring you're digesting food properly. It's found in good quantities in fruit, but you can also top up your fibre intake by eating plenty of wholegrain bread and cereals.
Although iron isn't as important during the menopause as it is before, you should still get enough so you don't become anaemic. Red meat, leafy greens and some beans and pulses are quality sources of iron.
Contact a bulk-billing medical centre in your area to learn more about women's health care.