How diet can help ease menopause symptoms 

The changes that come about during menopause are a natural part of the ageing process.  Whilst sadly we cannot stop or reverse them, there are ways that you can help manage symptoms, and risks to your health, through diet and lifestyle.

In our Menopause and heart health and Menopause and bone health articles you will find some practical advice on healthy eating during menopause to help you take control of your health and improve your health outcomes.  There are also some dietary measures you can take to help reduce those irritating, uncomfortable and often debilitating menopausal symptoms.

Woman drinking from water bottle on the beach

Healthy hydration 

Keeping well hydrated offers many benefits during the menopause.  Adequate hydration is important to help regulate body temperature.  Even mild dehydration can affect body temperature regulation and make hot flushes and night sweats worse.  It can also increase headaches, fatigue, and impair cognitive function.

Aim for around 2 litres of water or sugar-free drinks each day.

Some people are sensitive to caffeine and may find that caffeinated drinks disrupt sleep and/ or make hot flushes more severe.1  If you think you are sensitive to caffeine, try:

  • Avoiding caffeine after lunch
  • Opting for decaf tea and coffee
  • Avoiding energy drinks
  • Checking the label of diet drink alternatives, as they often have added caffeine
Woman smiling whilst swimming in a lake

Think before you drink

Alcohol, especially in excess, can disrupt sleep, lower mood, impair body temperature control and contribute to weight gain – all things that can already be problematic during the menopausal years.2

To reduce the impact of these symptoms and optimise your overall health and wellbeing:

  • Aim to keep within the safe upper limit of 14 units/ week
  • Spread your units across the week – aim for 2 or 3 alcohol-free days
  • Avoid binge drinking (consuming more than 6 units of alcohol in one sitting)

What’s a unit?

1 unit = one shot of spirit

                 ½ pint of 4% beer/ lager/ cider

2 units = small glass wine, 175ml

                   1 pint of 4% beer/ lager/cider

    440ml can 5.5% beer/ lager/ cider

3 units = large glass wine, 250ml

   1 pint high strength (5%) beer/ lager/ cider

Linseeds in a heart shape

Relish the benefits of plant oestrogens

Plant oestrogens (also called phytoestrogens) have a similar chemical structure to human oestrogen. If eaten regularly, and in adequate quantities, they can start to have mild oestrogen-like effects – which can be helpful when oestrogen levels decline during menopause.3

Some women find that including these in their diet can help relieve their menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes.  It is important to keep in mind:

  • It can take 2-3 months to notice the benefit of including plant oestrogens in your diet
  • They appear to be more effective in some women than in others and it’s thought that this might be due to difference in gut bacteria between individuals
  • Consuming plant oestrogens throughout the day appears to be more beneficial than having one large dose

Foods that contain plant oestrogens include soya and linseeds, which are also heart-friendly foods. They can be easily incorporated into the diet by including calcium-fortified soya milk and yoghurts, edamame beans, linseed-containing breads or by adding linseeds to cereals and soups.

Infographic of recommended physical exercise

Movement and menopause

Keeping physically active is not only linked to better heart and bone health but has also been shown to improve mood, sleep and to reduce anxiety4,  which can all be negatively impacted during menopause.  Physical activity releases feel-good hormones, improving mood and giving us more energy.  Exercising with loved ones, or joining team activities can help make physical activity more sociable and keep you motivated. 

Image transcript:

Be active at least 150 minutes moderate intensity per week - increased breathing able to talk. Swim, brisk walk, cycle or at least 75 minutes vigorous intensity per week - breathing fast difficulty talking. Run, stairs, sport or a combination of both.

Build strength on at least 2 days a week to keep muscles, bones and joints strong. Gym, yoga, carry heavy bags. Minimise sedentary time. Break up periods of inactivity. For older adults, to reduce the chance of frailty and falls – improve balance 2 days a week - bowls, dance, Tai Chi.

How Simplyhealth
can help 

Our 24/7 online GP services give you the opportunity to speak with a professional who can advise and refer you where appropriate after discussing your menopause symptoms at a quick and convenient time that works for you. Our on-demand counselling services ensure someone is always there to listen and help you get through whatever you’re dealing with.




3. Bedell S, Nachtigall M, Naftolin F (2014) The pros and cons of plant estrogens for menopause. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 139: 225-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.12.004

Franco OH et al (2016) Use of Plant-Based Therapies and Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA 315: 2554-2563Crawford AL et al (2013) The impact of dose, frequency of administration, and equol production on efficacy of isoflavones for menopausal hot flashes: a pilot randomized trial. Menopause 20: 911–921


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