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Optimal Diet for Menopause

Updated: Mar 5

Written by Bonnie Flemington

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life that officially starts 1 year after her final period and often comes with uncomfortable symptoms that can span several years, and an increased risk of certain diseases. Common symptoms include hot flashes, mid-section weight gain, or sleep issues and an increased risk for reduced bone density and cardiovascular disease. Lesser-known symptoms related to menopause include increased migraines, mood and memory problems and allergies.

Your diet may help reduce symptoms and ease the transition.

Increase Phytoestrogen Foods

Since reduced estrogen levels is a big part of these symptoms and disease risks, then including phytoestrogen foods such as flax and soy (e.g., edamame) can help as long as you haven’t been otherwise advised to avoid soy.

Reduce Sugar and Flour

I often hear the complaint, “I haven’t changed anything, so why have I gained weight?” One of the reasons is that our bodies have changed, so we must change what we eat to keep up. The same diet doesn’t cut it anymore. As estrogen declines, we become more insulin resistant which negatively impacts blood sugar and glucose metabolism. Poorly managed blood sugar also impacts sleep quality, migraines, and memory. That means the need to swap out sugar, flour, and alcohol for metabolism-boosting foods such as protein, veggies, and whole food fats.

Support Liver Function

Menopause can affect how we process cholesterol. Our liver regulates cholesterol and increased levels is less due to dietary cholesterol and more associated with foods that impair liver function such as excess consumption of sugars, flours, and processed fats. Optimal intake of water, fiber, and micronutrients is also key for liver health. Increase veggie consumption to 6-9 cups per day to get sufficient fiber and micronutrients to support optimal cholesterol levels.

Get Functional Lab Testing

Reduced estrogen in menopause means decreased bone building and calcium absorption. But bone health is about much more than calcium intake. Calcium by itself does not make strong bones. The complete bone mineral matrix is needed. Consuming nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium is key, along with optimizing nutrient absorption in the gut, and reducing inflammation, stress, caffeine, and alcohol.

Bloodwork and stool testing are best used together to assess how your systems are working. If your gut isn’t absorbing nutrients or detoxifying hormones well, that can increase symptoms. Knowing where the imbalances are through testing is the only way to get the information needed to create the personalized protocol that will address the underlying issues behind your symptoms.

Consider Lifestyle Habits

In addition to diet, lifestyle strategies are integral to easing the menopause transition. Strength or resistance training is important for all the symptoms discussed above. And managing daily stressors is key since the impact of cortisol (stress hormone) dysregulation on hot flashes is huge. Urine or saliva testing is a good way to determine how your body is responding to stress and inform the recommended course of adrenal support.

In summary, the best diet to support most women through their menopause transition years will be unique to the woman. A whole food, lower carbohydrate plan with plenty of protein, veggies, fiber, omega 3s and fermented foods is a good place to start. If you are already eating this way, then reach out to a practitioner with experience in utilizing testing to discover the underlying root causes of your symptoms.

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