Eating Fruits & Veggies May Help With Menopause Symptoms, Study Says

mbg Editorial Assistant By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Editorial Assistant
Eliza Sullivan is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She received a B.S. journalism and a B.A. in english literature from Boston University.
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Menopause is an inevitable, and often uncomfortable, part of aging for most women. But research into natural ways to alleviate symptoms is still limited. A recent study published by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) has added to the understanding of how diet can affect menopause, specifically when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

How do fruits and vegetables affect menopause symptoms?

The new study sought to establish the relationship between eating specific fruits and vegetables and menopause symptoms. Previous studies have established lifestyle factors, like diet, are important in managing menopause symptoms, along with the Mediterranean diet and diets high in fruits and vegetables. But this study wanted to see what specifically alleviated symptoms.

According to the paper, they considered "subtypes such as green, yellow, cruciferous and other vegetables, plus citrus, berry, and other fruit" separately from overall fruit and vegetable intake, which was also evaluated.

Participants reported their diets along with tracking menopause symptoms so that researchers could find patterns. To track symptoms, researchers created three categories to allow for more specificity in how different foods affected symptoms. The groups were somatic symptoms (like hot flashes and trouble sleeping), psychological symptoms (like depressive mood and anxiety), and urogenital symptoms (like bladder complaints and vaginal dryness).

Based on the reports from participants, the researchers found that some specific fruits and veggies have a positive impact, while others actually made symptoms worse. They reported that in this study citrus fruits were found to have an adverse impact on somatic symptoms, while leafy green vegetables were found to have a particularly positive impact.

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Are there any recommendations based on this study?

Menopause is, of course, a natural process, but the uncomfortable symptoms are still a problem. According to Stephanie S. Faubion, M.D., MBA, the medical director for NAMS, women should be careful not to underestimate the impact it can have.

"Menopausal symptoms have a mean duration of seven to nine years, and a third of women will have hot flashes for a decade or longer," she told mindbodygreen. "If a woman has bothersome symptoms, toughing it out may not be a realistic solution."

Though she does feel this link needs further research, the benefits of adding more of any variety of produce to your diet extend beyond just menopause. "A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat has been shown to have significant health benefits," she reminded us, "and should be considered for those reasons."

While the link between diet and menopause is still being explored, there are other things that have been linked to making the symptoms more manageable. Studies have shown that having more sex may delay menopause, and intermittent fasting may help manage some symptoms as well.

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