During menopause, important changes occur in the organism. Chief among these are hormonal changes. There is an increase in the hormones secreted from the pituitary gland. Ovarian function decreases due to disorders in the system that creates proper menstruation and reproductive function. As a result, estrogens, which are an important hormone for women, decrease, an increase in gonadotropins occurs and important health problems are observed in women.
Psychoendocrine Changes: These are headache, irritability, sleep disorders, depression, excessive sweating, weakness and fatigue.
Changes in the Skin: Loosening, thinning, transparent appearance of the skin, prominent veins, delayed healing of wounds and bruises occur.
Changes in the Urogenital System: In estrogen deficiency, the vaginal epithelium also thins. It becomes suitable for the reproduction of microorganisms.
Changes in Energy Expenditure: Due to some changes in the body (hormonal changes, etc.) during menopause, a decrease in energy expenditure occurs. As a result, obesity develops.
Changes in Body Composition: As the reason for the change in body composition; decrease in physical activity and decrease in hormone levels are shown. The decrease in estrogen level after menopause may affect food intake, physical activity level and adipose tissue distribution.
Women who have gone through menopause have a higher risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis. In the development of cardiovascular diseases, not only the estrogen hormone, but also the nutritional status of the premenopausal woman (such as high consumption of animal fats), obesity and smoking are also factors after menopause.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones break easily as a result of increased calcium loss from the bones and is more common in menopausal women.
Bone formation is greater than loss in children and adolescents. After the age of 30, bone loss begins. Generally, the bone mineral density of women is lower than that of men. The rate of bone loss increases significantly at menopause. The main cause of bone loss after menopause is estrogen deficiency.
High levels of caffeine, protein and sodium increase urinary calcium excretion. Excessive consumption of phosphate-containing beverages also reduces bone density. Anticoagulants, antacid drugs, alcohol, barbiturates and smoking increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Considerations in Nutrition to Prevent Osteoporosis
• Adequate calcium should be consumed in every age period. The best source for calcium is milk and dairy products. Apart from milk, especially green leafy vegetables, dried legumes and molasses are rich in calcium.
• Drinking hard water with high mineral content should be preferred.
• Vitamin D requirement should be met. Sun rays should be used properly and regularly. Sunbathing should be done at noon in winter days, and at mid-morning and afternoon times in summer.
• It is important for bone and dental health that the fluoride content of drinking and utility water is at the level of 0.7-1.2 mg per liter.
• Excessive pulp consumption should be avoided.
• Excessive protein consumption should be avoided. Because high protein diet increases urinary calcium excretion and is an important risk factor for osteoporosis.
• Excessive phosphorus consumption should be avoided. Protein foods are generally rich in phosphorus. If the protein is taken in sufficient level, excessive phosphorus intake is also prevented.
• Adding excessive salt to food and excessive consumption of salted foods should be avoided. Excess salt increases urinary calcium excretion.
• No smoking. Smoking decreases the conversion of 25-hydroxy vitamin D to 1-25 dihydroxy vitamin D, the active form, by increasing the blood cortisone level. Likewise, it reduces the level of vitamin C in the blood and the level of serum estrogen.
• Regular physical activity should be done. Physical activity increases bone mass in youth and prevents bone loss in old age. At least 30 minutes of walking is required every day.
• Alcohol should be avoided. Alcohol destroys bone formation cells and impairs calcium absorption.
• Excessive thinness should be avoided. Body Mass index should not go below 25. Because after menopause, the body also benefits from the estrogen in the adipose tissue.
• In particular, antacids containing aluminum and drugs containing cortisone should be avoided.
• Excessive caffeine should not be consumed. Frequent consumption of beverages containing caffeine should be avoided.