Experts have today debunked a diet supposedly to combat menopause as a “difficult and expensive” myth.
Hungarian scientists believe they have identified the precise diet that can reduce the severity of the symptoms suffered by millions of women experiencing “the change.”
The recommendations, which urged women to avoid eating processed meat and pastries and reduce alcohol consumption, but increase their protein intake to the level of a weightlifter, should be an “integral part of treatment,” they said.
However, independent experts called the discovery “nothing new” and said some of its demands were excessive.
But they acknowledged that healthy diets could, in fact, help women turn the tide, although there is no magic regimen to combat the symptoms.
The recommendations, which urged women to avoid eating processed meat and pastries and reduce alcohol consumption, but increase their protein intake to the level of a weightlifter, should be an “integral part of treatment,” they said. However, independent experts called the discovery “nothing new” and said some of its demands were excessive.
Unintentional weight gain is a common complaint of women going through the biological phenomenon.
Studies show that losing weight can relieve hot flashes while reducing the risk of serious complications, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Menopause naturally accelerates bone loss and also increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Dr Sally King, research associate in menstrual physiology at King’s College London, told MailOnline: ‘A healthy, balanced diet helps reduce the severity of all chronic health problems because it is ‘anti-inflammatory’.
“So, yes, an anti-inflammatory diet like this will likely reduce the severity of perimenopausal symptoms and the risk of disease in middle and old age, since these are inflammatory conditions.
“But this proscriptive diet seems quite difficult and expensive, and includes certain food groups that are more inflammatory than anti-inflammatory.”
According to recommendations proposed by researchers at the Semmelweis University of Budapest and the Hungarian Dietetic Association, women should consume dairy products equivalent to the calcium content of half a liter of milk.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, about 400g of low-fat plain yogurt or 30g of cheddar cheese provide about the same benefit.
Menopausal women should also consume around 33 ml of fluid per kg of body weight per day, spread evenly throughout the day.
“Calcium supplements would be better,” Dr. King said.
Meanwhile, if I followed the fluid recommendations, “my calculated amount of fluids per day would be almost three liters, too much for my comfort,” he added.
Other daily recommendations include between one and 1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight, per day, to “increase and maintain skeletal muscle,” in line with recommendations for weightlifters looking to build muscle.
For a woman weighing 70kg, this would be equivalent to two and a half chicken breasts.
Half of this protein should come from plant sources such as soy, seitan, lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa or nuts, the researchers said.
Mary Hickson, professor of dietetics at the University of Plymouth, warned that there is “no evidence” that increasing protein intake helps relieve menopause symptoms.
According to UK guidelines, most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight per day; For an average woman, this is 45g, about two servings of meat, fish or tofu.
Other dietary recommendations include 30 to 45 g of fiber (mainly whole grains), eating no more than 5 g of salt per day, and at least 300 g of vegetables and 200 g of fruit per day.
Processed meat products should also be “occasional in small quantities”, while fast-acting simple sugars such as cakes and fizzy drinks should be avoided.
Studies have long shown that women gain more than 6kg on average between ages 50 and 60, regardless of their starting weight, race or ethnicity.
Being larger can worsen menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, and increase the risk of complications.
However, experts acknowledged that the recommendations could help menopausal women lose weight.
“These are all recommendations for an overall healthy diet for any adult,” Professor Hickson said.
Meanwhile, Dr Duane Mellor, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston University, told MailOnline: ‘It closely resembles a Mediterranean dietary pattern that is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and should also help with weight management, which may help manage menopausal symptoms.
“So, it’s not really a menopause diet; it’s a healthy diet that can help keep most adults healthy no matter what stage of life they are in.”
Professor Annice Mukkherjee, consultant endocrinologist at Spire Manchester Hospital, added: “This is not specific to menopause. In fact, waiting until menopause to implement healthy eating strategies is like closing the stable door after the horse has run. I escaped.’
The “main problem” with the recommendations is “that it’s nothing new,” Dr. King also said.
He added: ‘It is well known that a healthy and balanced diet improves health.
‘The problem is getting people to have one, because of its cost, lack of access, lack of appeal compared to sugary processed foods during a work week that leaves us knackered.
‘As for losing weight, it depends on how much people eat and how much exercise they do.
“But if you switch from an unhealthy sugary and processed diet to a healthy one, then yes, the weight will come off.”
And he added: ‘Menopause is a healthy change, like puberty.
‘Severe symptoms, apart from hot flashes, poor sleep and changes in the regularity of periods, usually indicate an underlying illness, a stressful life or an unhealthy lifestyle, including poor diet.
“Some of the foods recommended here (tofu, soy) have estrogenic properties that may also help reduce the severity of symptoms.”
According to the British Dietetic Association, changing your lifestyle can also help reduce menopausal symptoms, maintain bone density and reduce the risk of heart disease.
While he recommends hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help relieve symptoms, a variety of calcium-rich foods can also “help maintain healthy bones.”
According to its guidelines, it recommends consuming two to three servings a day, which could include 200 ml of semi-skimmed milk, “a piece of cheese the size of a matchbox”, a small yogurt or a milk-based pudding such as custard. .
Other research has also indicated that refined carbohydrates accelerate the onset of menopause.
In a study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health According to Leeds scientists, women whose diets focused more on fish, beans and other legumes began to experience the change at an older age.
Each daily serving of these foods was associated with an average delay of 3.3 years in the onset of menopause, the study stated.
Menopause is when a woman’s menstruation stops. It usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.
Researchers estimate there will be 1.2 billion menopausal women worldwide by 2030, as life expectancy increases.
Eight in ten women will experience symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, and memory problems.
Women are advised to see their GP if their symptoms are difficult to control.
HRT is the main medication used to relieve symptoms. It works by replacing hormones that are at low levels.
But official figures show that HRT use has soared in England in recent years.
The latest NHS data recorded 11 million HRT prescriptions in 2022/23, a 47 per cent increase on the previous year. They were distributed among 2.3 million patients, an increase of 29 percent compared to the 2021-22 period.
Demand has been so great that the UK has been hit by a shortage of some HRT drugs.
Experts estimate that HRT gels, patches and pills are up to 90 percent effective in reducing symptoms.