Taking Charge of Menopause Symptoms With Food

January 16, 2021

Two nutritionists share critical information about how your food choices can and will affect menopausal symptoms. Such as alcohol at night leads to hot flashes and night sweats (sugar does too) and much more. Listen in to start relieving yourself of these uncomfortable symptoms, starting today!

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KARA: Welcome everyone to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you’re experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, or even post-menopausal, I think you're going to want to stay tuned this morning because we're going to be sharing some key information about how food choices can affect menopausal symptoms. So here's just a quick example to start us off. When many women drink a glass of wine in the evening, you know what happens is they will wake up in the middle of the night with night sweats or hot flashes. So if you can relate to that, have you made that connection that just simply having a drink with alcohol in the evenings can often lead to hot flashes or night sweats and a poor night's sleep?

JOANN: For sure. I have definitely made that connection. I did experience waking up from wine many times and now I rarely drank wine these days, but whenever I do have a glass of wine in the evening, yes, it does help me fall asleep. But then I wake up two or three times throughout the night and can't get back to sleep. The lesson I learned from this is wine can easily cause women of a certain age to have night sweats and poor sleep. Also, eating a sugary treat before bed does the same thing. It spikes our blood sugar. The blood sugar drops, causing a night sweat, and then alcohol also causes surface sleeping. So you don't get that deep, sound sleep that you're looking for.

KARA: That's right. And like you said, people might be thinking, “Well, gosh, a glass of wine really helps me to fall asleep.”

JOANN: Or relax.

KARA: Or relax. But then, you know, the downside is the waking up throughout the night and really not getting that deep, restful sleep.

JOANN: Right.

KARA: Over the years, plenty of clients have told me if they have a glass of wine before bed, they actually wake up dripping wet. They might need to change their pajamas. Sometimes they even need to change their sheets. And so for them, I mean wine quickly loses its allure, you know, when, when the symptoms are that severe.

JOANN: That's right. It definitely changes things. As a person in menopause and as one of our presenters in our Menopause Seminar, I know the connection between menopause symptoms and my food choices. My name is Joann Ridout. I'm a Registered Dietitian and have worked in a variety of settings for the past 30 years. I love teaching the Menopause Seminar and working with clients individually who are experiencing menopause symptoms.

KARA: Yeah, I suppose we should introduce ourselves, right? My name is Kara Carper and I'm a Licensed Nutritionist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. I've worked with a great number of clients who have also experienced menopause symptoms and I'm getting to that age of perimenopause. So personally, I do understand the challenges that women have during the perimenopausal years. And that can be any time between really between the ages of 35, 40 to 55. Of course, that depends on a lot of factors. It depends on diet, what the person's eating, what the stress level is, but it is around that time that some women start experiencing symptoms. And one thing that we hear a lot about is the concern of vaginal dryness. And, you know, typically a person with vaginal dryness will go to their doctor for a solution. But generally, the suggestion that they receive is, “Well, just use an estrogen cream.” But as we've discussed in past shows, Joann, a great many women have a concern about the increased risks of cancer from using an estrogen cream. And they might want a more natural solution to be on the safe side. So Joann, why don't we share some possible more natural solutions for vaginal dryness?

JOANN: Great idea. So if you are following a low-fat diet, stop now.

KARA: Just stop.

JOANN: Just stop. And why is that? The reason is that the tissue in your body needs that healthy fat to stay hydrated. We recommend adding one to two tablespoons of healthy fat at each meal and snack. Most women need to add six or seven tablespoons of healthy fat daily. So of course avoid those bad fats we've been talking about in past shows, such as soybean oil or corn oil and even canola oil. I cook with butter or avocado oil or coconut oil. You can also cook with olive oil as long as you keep it at a very low heat. And having said that, olive oil is best used in a dressing for your salad. If you are afraid you will gain weight when you add these healthy oils, I can assure you that natural fats actually help people lose weight.

KARA: Yep, that's correct. So somebody might be hearing that for the first time thinking, “How can fat help me to lose weight?” We've done a lot of shows on that. You can even just go to our website, weightandwellness.com, look up some podcasts that discuss, you know, healthy fats, metabolism and weight loss.

JOANN: Right.

KARA: For vaginal dryness, another thing you know, that we recommend is drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day. Now you might need to develop a water habit. I always hear that, “Oh, it's, I forgot to drink water. I didn't notice that I was thirsty.” And a lot of people are just not getting adequate water throughout the day. There are lots and lots of ways to track water and there's, you know, most people have a smartphone. And if you are someone that likes to use apps, there are plenty of water tracking apps. In fact, I just did a quick search last night and I just in Google put water tracking app and something came up right away. It's called the “water tracker reminder”. I think you can use it on iPhone and Android.

JOANN: Right.

KARA: So it, that's a simple way. You can also set timers and alarms on your watch or your phone. And a good rule of thumb is trying to have eight ounces every waking hour; eight ounces of water. That's not a bad idea.

JOANN: No, that’s right.

KARA: And I also suggest avoiding beverages that are going to dehydrate you. So we want to be drinking water, but not drinking too many things that create dehydration. So what would be some beverages that dehydrate your body? Well, some common ones are soda, coffee, caffeinated energy drinks, and alcohol.

JOANN: Yep. That's a good list. And most people are drinking those fairly regular. So it reminds me of a story, of a client story I met with recently. She was drinking so little water. She was drinking only like one or two cups of water a day. And when I met with her, I just said, I, I had just, I was amazed at her amount of water and she was so chronically dehydrated. And I could tell that by a lot of her health conditions. So I explained how she wasn't allowing her kidneys or her liver to function very well. And the toxins wouldn't filter out of her body. So just kind of went through that whole process with her about how she needs that water to get those filters, our kidneys and our liver working properly. And then the liver is able to let go of stored fat. After she heard that explanation, she was highly motivated to change that habit.

KARA: Well, that's a, that's a great testimonial. So thanks for sharing that. I actually have a client story to share as well and a client awhile back told me that when she was in college, she had been drinking 10, 12-ounce cans of Coke every day.


JOANN: And so we were just kind of curious. So we got out a calculator in my office and it was a math problem trying to figure out, you know, “I wonder how much sugar that was?” Because we know that soda has sugar. Well, we tallied up that it was a hundred teaspoons of sugar, which is really close to two; it's almost two cups every day. I don't think either one of us had realized how quickly that sugar can add up because there is quite a bit in soda. And in fact, there's four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

So if you ever… kids love that. You can measure that out. And it is pretty eye-opening.

JOANN: Yeah.

KARA: But the reason this client and I were having the discussion is she was having a lot of health issues. And I suspected that some of them may have been stemming from just too much sugar. And the pain and inflammation she was experiencing, hot flashes, not being able to lose the weight she wanted. And there were some other health concerns as well. But needless to say, she, you know, did get over her soda habit with balanced eating. And also she ended up taking some supportive supplements. So it is time for our first break. And you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. It's brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. About 6,000 women reach menopause every day. Some experience dreaded menopause symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, sleepless nights, and weight gain. Others kind of just sail through those years with minor discomfort. And of course food choices and lifestyle habits of women seem to be a key factor in how women experience menopause and what types of symptoms they're going to have or not have. So today we're addressing some of the natural ways to manage symptoms and we'll be right back.


JOANN: Welcome back the Dishing Up Nutrition. Throughout the show today, we will address some of the many symptoms women experience in menopause. And we have many clients in menopause or perimenopause; they're often concerned with thinning hair. There are many causes for thinning hair. It could be chemotherapy. It could be prednisone medication or antidepressants; possibly following a low-fat diet or eating insufficient amounts of protein, eating too much sugar and processed carbs; and also long-term stress. There are many, many nutrition and lifestyle reasons. Your concern about thinning hair may be your motivation to set up an appointment with one of the dietitians or nutritionists at Nutritional Weight and Wellness to put in place the foods and supplements that will help you. Being realistic and finding the cause and the solution for your thinning hair often takes time. So you may need several appointments, but the effort is well worth it. Not only does your hair get healthy, but you do too. So call us at (651) 699-3438 and set up an appointment.

KARA: And Joann, before break, I know we were talking about water and the importance of drinking eight to 10 classes a day and avoiding beverages that dehydrate and we both just gave a kind of a client story about dehydration.

JOANN: Right.

KARA: So the one story, just to kind of recap, is my client had been drinking 10 sodas per day and was able to stop that habit.

JOANN: Yep. That was great. And, and we know that up to 10 sodas a day is, is maybe kind of a rare case, but I've met several clients over the years that are doing, you know, quite often it's maybe three a day or six a day. It's still something that they really have to work on to get over that soda habit because it, it can be a very big struggle to get off of that soda.

KARA: Soda is it very, I mean, addicting. It's the carbonation; the caffeine.


KARA: Sometimes those artificial sweeteners in the diet can be addicting.

JOANN: Exactly. So let's go back to how to maintain healthy vaginal tissue. To recap, we want you to add in one to two tablespoons of natural fats for each meal and snack, and drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water. Also, avoid beverages that dehydrate your body: the soda, the alcohol, the coffee. We talked about that. A countless number of people may not even be aware that a side effect of a number of blood pressure medications, antidepressants and incontinence medications is dehydration. So many people need to drink even more water. And a lot of times our recommendation goes up as high as half your body weight.

KARA: In ounces.

JOANN: …in ounces. So definitely if you're on some of those medications, you definitely want to get your water even higher.

KARA: Another one is: have you noticed anti-histamines?


KARA: And I rarely take those, but I've noticed the few times that I've needed to, I can just tell everything just dries up. So there are a lot of medications that are dehydrating, like you mentioned.

JOANN: That's right.

KARA: There are also some key supplements that we like to suggest for vaginal dryness. And a lot of people find relief when they start adding in a regimen of two to three softgels of Omega-3 fatty acid, otherwise known as fish oil. This one is very high quality. And also two to three softgels of something called GLA: it's another important essential fatty acid. And that hydrates tissues. Both of those will hydrate tissues on the inside and the outside. We also suggest adding a high quality vitamin E softgel. And about 400 IUs or international units is usually adequate for vitamin E.

JOANN: Yep. That's right. So GLA, or gamma-linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid for the health of tissue, hair, skin, and nails. And I just mentioned skin, which leads me to think about wrinkles. Since everyone is communicating via Zoom these days, I recently have found that women and even some men are now concerned about their wrinkles. And on that note, Kara and I are going to talk about what you can do to slow down the development of those wrinkles.

KARA: So first, what foods lead to wrinkles? Well, this might be a little surprising, but anything that contains sugar or is going to, a processed carbohydrate that's going to turn quickly into sugar, can exacerbate wrinkles. So think about white foods, bread, pasta; any kind of dessert or treat. And when we teach our classes, you know, we often make those connections, you know, too much cereal, juice, pie, candy, alcohol, equals wrinkles, wrinkles, and more wrinkles.

JOANN: That’s right.

KARA: Right?

JOANN: That's right. So what foods can help us to avoid wrinkles? Eating protein is a great way to help avoid wrinkles. So most women need to eat 12 to 14 ounces of protein daily. So you hear us say that on a regular basis here on Dishing Up Nutrition. But I was wondering: are you eating 12 to 14 ounces? Are you actually doing that? If you're not sure, you need to weigh your protein. You probably have a scale. Get it out and use it. Your skin will thank you. So just a reminder to actually get that scale out. It's, sometimes it's very surprising because you think you're eating three to four ounces of protein every meal, and maybe it's only two and a half.

KARA: I actually still use a scale after all these years.

JOANN: I do too.

KARA: 10 to 15 years of doing this. And I find, I mean, I know myself and if I'm not getting four ounces, like for lunch and dinner, I am going to be hungry.

JOANN: Right.

KARA: And I still have a hard time eyeballing that if I try to guess, and I do put it on the scale. It's usually, you know, somewhere around 2.9, maybe 3.2.

JOANN: Yeah, not quite there.

JOANN: 4 ounces, it kind of is, you might, and it’s a lot. It's more than people think.

JOANN: Right. So also, we need to get that good natural fat in our meals and snacks daily. That helps to avoid wrinkles. So this information about fat may be new to you and contrary to what you've heard in the past. But current research supports eating butter and olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, olives, cream and avocados. But as you know, not all fats and oils are created equal. The natural fats are the healing fats. And the refined oils…. and the refined oils, pardon, such as soybean oil: those are the ones we want to stay away from. So soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil are the fats to avoid to stay wrinkle-free because they really do damage your cells. They damage your skin. So of course, drinking eight to 10 glasses of water, avoiding soda and alcohol, is so important. And then do I need to mention to age without wrinkles don't smoke. I know there are still some smokers out there. So just a reminder, that's very hard on your skin as well.

KARA: Good reminders. You know, and another reason to eat 12 to 14 ounces of protein is to make sure that you're supplying the collagen that you need for your skin and your bones. Adequate collagen is needed for firm, smooth skin. And another great thing is that it's going to help joints as well. And a new health habit, I think a lot of you have probably heard of this. A lot of people are excited about they're adding a scoop of collagen powder to their coffee or their protein shake. We'll talk more about that after break, but you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Recent news reports point out that since the onset of the pandemic, anxiety and depression have dramatically increased. And that is probably not surprising. We're going to, when we come back from break, we're going to talk about a study and what type of foods really seem to be leading to more of this anxiety. All right, we'll be right back.


JOANN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you have fallen out of the habit of cooking and eating real food and are now ordering in pizza a few times a week, I would like to recommend taking our new Zoom cooking class called Cooking Basics: Slow Cooker Savvy. That class is going to be held on Friday, January 22nd from 12:00 to 1:30 PM. So learn how to cook healthy food, real food for you and your family. The cost of this Zoom class is only $25 and you will learn easy and simple ways to start cooking at home. We've had so many requests for cooking classes and we're so happy that we're able to start offering them.

KARA: That is really exciting.

JOANN: Yeah. And call (651) 699-3438 or go online to weightandwellness.com to sign up.

KARA: From the comfort of your own home, right?

JOANN: That's right.

KARA: And learn to cook. How cool. So I had started talking about this study before break, but I just want to circle back to that. But recent news reports are pointing out that with the pandemic and what has it been 10, going on 10 months going on a year now?

JOANN: It feels like forever.

KARA: We're losing track of time. Anxiety and depression have definitely increased. So scientists at the University of Melbourne in Australia found that the Western diet, and an example of a Western-type diet would be, you had just had pizza, white bread, sugar, beer, that type of diet, or, you know, having a lot of those foods and beverages in your diet increases the risk of depression by 52%.

JOANN: Yeah, that's amazing, isn’t it?

KARA: Talk about food being related to moods. So perhaps the standard American diet or that Western diet, the SAD diet is the acronym. Maybe that's why more people are feeling kind of gloomy, having low energy, trouble getting out of bed, because we definitely know that food matters and makes a huge difference in our, in our moods and our energy.

JOANN: That's right. So Kara, before break you were starting to talk about collagen, and we didn't get through that whole part. Do you want to go back?


KARA: Yeah. Yeah, I was so, well, first of all, we were talking about the importance of eating protein. And 12 to 14 ounces is recommended per day. And that's just to make sure, it's for a lot of reasons. We talked about avoiding wrinkles, but it can give you the collagen that you need for skin and for bones and especially, and for joints as well. And so kind of a new, I don't want to call it a trendy thing, but it's just a little bit more recent that people are putting a scoop of collagen powder in their protein shakes, or maybe even their coffee. But just like other supplements, not all collagen powders are going to be created equal. Quality definitely matters. So you kind of need to be careful about just going on Amazon and ordering any collagen or going to your drug store and just picking one up. You know, the one that we talk about… There are other good quality ones, but Nutritional Weight and Wellness definitely has a great one. It's called Key Collagen by the brand Nutrikey. And that one actually provides a peptide called Verisol. And Verisol is designed to help reduce wrinkles. There was a research study that focused on the benefits of Verisol found in collagen powder. And Verisol reduced wrinkles significantly. So to avoid wrinkles, you know, it's, it's really important to work on the internal environment. And of course you still want to be avoiding excess sun exposure. You want to be getting adequate sleep and drinking plenty of water. So it's not just one thing that's going to help reduce wrinkles.

JOANN: Exactly.

KARA: Your skin benefits the most when you're focusing on all of those areas.

JOANN: That's right. And speaking of sleep, I have met with several women over the past week trying to get back on track and struggling with their sleep. So for some people it's difficult to fall asleep and for many, they wake up in the middle of the night. And guess what? One more negative: if, if you don't get enough sleep, is that you have a lot more cravings. So it's important to get back on track with your food to get your sleep back on track as well. So one recommendation is to eliminate caffeine or keep it to just one cup at eight o'clock in the morning or early. Too much caffeine in our system does not allow us to get into a deep sleep. So it's important to get, keep that caffeine minimal. A second recommendation for sleep is to have a small bedtime snack before bed like a half an apple and some peanut butter, perhaps. So this helps us to avoid low blood sugar so we can avoid those night sweats. And a very simple solution that's a supplement is Magnesium Glycinate; 400 to 600 milligrams before bed to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. You can even take a couple more if you wake up in the middle of the night. I do that sometimes. So another supplement I recommend is melatonin if magnesium isn't enough on its own. So…

KARA: I take all of those, right, you know, I take the Magnesium Glycinate before bed. I actually keep it on my nightstand so that if I do wake up, I might pop a couple more in the middle of the night to get back to sleep.

JOANN: I do that too.

KARA: And I do take, I actually like our Liquid Melatonin. I don't know which one you’ve used, but the liquid, you just put a dropper under your tongue and it's absorbed very quickly about a half hour before bed.

JOANN: Yeah, that's great.

KARA: So since we're on the topic of sleep and a lot of listeners know this, but sleep is really key to also, you know, being able to lose weight, which many clients are working on as either their main goal or one of their main goals. And healing our body with sleep as well as being adequately hydrated, you know, those are all critical factors when it comes to weight loss. Because, you had mentioned this before as well, but without drinking enough water: eight to 10 glasses per day, our liver really is not able to do its job to metabolize stored fat. The liver needs to work really hard and the kidneys when there's not enough water. And sometimes, you know, as far as sleeping, the commitment to change is as simple as just saying, “I will be in bed by 10 or 10:30.” And then we've talked about this in other shows too. But if you're going to be in bed at 10 or 10:30, you might need to start that process at 9 or 9:30.

JOANN: There's always a process.

KARA: It is a process. You kind of have to be prepared for sleep.


KARA: And that allows a full eight hours for most people, depending on when they need to get up. And you had mentioned the magnesium and melatonin. So again, just, we just can't emphasize enough if weight loss is a goal, getting that adequate sleep. There's hundreds of studies, probably thousands of studies on sleep and weight loss.

JOANN: Absolutely. So another symptom some women in menopause experience is something we call menopause memory lapses. So Kara and I want to get down to some basic information about maintaining a good memory. So to have a good memory, we think you have to feed your brain well. Have you ever thought, “How do I feed my brain so I can have a good memory?”

KARA: There are some foods and lifestyle habits that are not brain-friendly. Excess sugar is not brain-friendly and actually can rob you of some of your memory. Now perhaps you've noticed that you might be having more memory lapses, maybe even just since the holidays. And you might be like a lot of people who have slipped into poor eating habits during the holidays, especially with Christmas and New Year's, you know, that whole process gets a little bit extended. And then come the new year, there's all these leftover Christmas cookies; bars. We still have, I think we still have a few Christmas cookies.

JOANN: Oh you do?

KARA: Yeah, well, we're, we're pretty controlled at our house, but we did get gifted quite a, quite a bit of treats this year. And they certainly do linger. And don't forget about those high-sugar holiday coffee drinks too, that all the coffee shops were offering. But an interesting research study reported that sugar has a way of shrinking the brain. So there's definitely a correlation, Joann, between sugar and brain and memory.

JOANN: That's right; definitely. And in our Menopause Seminar, we talk about the dark side of sugar. We've kind of been doing that today as well. Biochemically, your brain cells can only manage a small amount of sugar at any given time. And when you over-consume sugar or processed carbs, you can end up with too much sugar in your brain, which can lead to being easily distracted, feeling spacey and having that brain fog.

KARA: And besides being easily distracted, feeling spacey and having brain fog, other symptoms of the dark side of sugar might be fatigue, brittle bones, a lack of focus, weight gain, poor memory, wrinkles. We've talked about some of those things.

JOANN: And one thing that just came to mind also as we were talking about this topic is that our immune system, we really need to have our immune system on high alert right now and, and fully nourished. And sugar affects our immune system as well.

KARA: Do you remember? I can't remember the name of the book, but the Robert Crayhon, that renowned nutritionist.


KARA: I believe we used to have one of his books at our office. I just remember reading his book and something just jumped out at me about sugar. And I don't remember the exact statistic, but when you, when you have a certain amount of sugar, your immune system is paralyzed.


KARA: …is how he stated it.

JOANN: That's a really good visual.

KARA: It was something like two hours, but I just, I picture sugar paralyzing the immune system. And so think about if we're eating a lot of sugar, you know, this is not a time where we want to be compromising immune system.

JOANN: Exactly. So I think it's time for break.

KARA: Yes, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And we understand the stress of the pandemic may have you eating foods that we've been talking about that may not be super healthy for you. And if you're saying, “I want to get my food and my eating under control,” I suggest joining our Nutrition for Weight Loss virtual classes. There are three different options available for you: January 19th, January 21st or January 22nd. Class times will vary for each of those programs. And participants who took the Nutrition for Weight Loss program this last fall, they just said that they loved the Zoom classes. It helped them to stay on track and they felt great. So you can, there's a couple of ways to sign up. You can go to our website, weightandwellness.com. You can call our office at (651) 699-3438. And either way we can get you signed up. We'll be right back.


JOANN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have a question for each of you listening to us live today on Dishing Up Nutrition and to those of you who are listening to our podcast. Why do you want to eat better? And why are you listening actually? Is it to have less pain and inflammation? You have some joint pain to resolve? Is it to have better blood sugar control? You know, perhaps you have type-two diabetes or prediabetes to, to, work with and work on in terms of improvement. Is it better to have…? Is it important to have a better memory? Is it important to have fewer episodes of heartburn? I would say so if that's what you're going through. And is it to reduce or eliminate diarrhea, or is it to lose weight? Or is it to minimize or eliminate your menopause symptoms? So we know that food matters for each and every one of these health conditions. So let us help you address your individual concerns in a one-on-one nutrition appointment so we can set up an eating plan specific to you. All of our nutritionists are very skilled in covering each and every topic. So call us at (651) 699-3438 to set up an appointment and be sure to check in with your health insurance to see if nutritional counseling is a benefit you have. Some people have that so that's great.

KARA: And I'm so glad that you're all still offering services.

JOANN: We are. We have not missed a beat and…

KARA: Wonderful.

JOANN: We are seeing most clients via Zoom.

KARA: Okay.

JOANN: Some people still prefer phone, which is fine. So either way, phone or Zoom. We’re still in full swing with our appointments. And lots of people are getting help. And lots of people have additional COVID stress and additional issues that they're working on because of that.

KARA: Sure.

JOANN: And, you know, people from working at home are struggling and, you know, a lot of issues right now. So we're helping people.

KARA: And, you know, sometimes when people are working from home, it could be easier regarding food choices and it could be more difficult.

JOANN: Definitely.

KARA: You hear both, you know, some people have more time to shop and cook; more flexibility. But also the cabinet is very close to the office these days, right? Or the refrigerator might be passing through that kitchen a little more frequently.

JOANN: That’s right. One tip I always give clients who are working from home and struggling with that refrigerator being too close is I say, “Pack your lunch as if you were leaving for the day.”

KARA: Yeah.

JOANN: Stack up your lunch, your lunch, your dinner, your snacks, and just such as you were having a normal day. And that way you're not tempted. That way you're organized for the day and you'll stay on track.

KARA: Yeah.

JOANN: Or you’ll be a lot more likely. So I wanted to add also, since we're on the menopause topic today, a story of a one woman I met recently who was having 20 or more hot flashes during the day. And in addition was having two to three night sweats at night. So of course, after changing her food, balancing her blood sugar, the hot flashes did reduce significantly. And usually a hot flash is from high blood sugar. And often night sweats may be from low blood sugar. So it's important to differentiate those. So a lot of times changing your eating habits are helpful. We generally recommend an evening snack for the night sweats.

KARA: And you gave a couple good examples, like a simple one. Did you say a small apple or half of an apple and some nut butter, maybe two tablespoons of almond butter; natural peanut butter.

JOANN: Or a half a cup of berries with some cream. It doesn't have to be a big production.

KARA: Right. I really like the half of an avocado.

JOANN: Oh yeah.

KARA: …with any kind of a, a fruit, preferably not like a banana. That might be a little high sugar, but maybe a half cup of berries.

JOANN: Right. Yep. That's a good option too. So, what other nutritional habits can you put into practice in addition to cutting out or cutting down on the amount of sugar and processed carbs that you're eating? We would say look at protein. It is so important, especially during the perimenopause and menopause years to eat three to four ounces of animal protein, three to four times each day. And there's some science behind this recommendation. Protein breaks down into amino acids, such as tryptophan, tyrosine, choline and over 200 other different brain chemicals, which helps us have good memory and keeps our moods good, even moods, good energy, good focus, good communication. So all of those things are very much helped with protein.

KARA: I bet you people have heard of the term tryptophan. Don’t we always hear about that with turkey?

JOANN: With turkey.

KARA: We associate that with Thanksgiving.

JOANN: And relaxing.

KARA: Yes. But all animal protein is going to provide those amino acids that you mentioned that support our neurotransmitters, our brain chemicals.


KARA: So protein is definitely, I think of it like a natural antidepressant.


KARA: Spreading out that protein several times per day.

JOANN: That's a great way to put it.

KARA: And as we mentioned earlier, another critical nutrient for our brain is that beneficial fat. If you know, why do we talk about that so much? I think it's because we've had this low-fat message for seven years. So it's ingrained in a lot of people, but that's why we have to keep repeating it. Our brain is made up of 60 to 70% fat. So if you have been eating a no fat or a low-fat diet for years, your brain might be just crying out for more healthy fat, you know, because we, we do, we need the healthy fats to support that 60 to 70% fat in the brain.

JOANN: Exactly. One of my favorite ways to add some healthy fat with lunchtime is I have chili, very often chili or hamburger soup for lunch. Those are a couple of my favorites. And I will take a half of an avocado and cut that a half an avocado up. And you just scoop that out and put it right on top of my soup.

KARA: I do the same thing.

JOANN: And it's a part of my soup and it is so yummy. And you know, and when I think back on the, over the years when I put cheese on top of my chili or sour cream, or, and I don't tolerate dairy, so I'm not using those foods anymore, but the avocado just does it for me.

KARA: Yeah, me too. That's funny. We've never talked about that. I can still tolerate dairy. And so I do enjoy a nice, and in fact, my husband made, he had three pounds of ground turkey and made this huge pot of chili. We still have some. And I was putting a little cheese and sour cream, but I often will put an avocado either in addition to that or in place of that. And so food, Joann, food choices often determine how the menopausal years are going to go.

JOANN: That's right. That's right. So those menopausal years could be basically symptom-free. And for some women, they are. Some women they're completely symptom-free. Some women have many of the common symptoms. And in the next several weeks, we hope to have the new Menopause Solution Seminar filmed, edited, and available. We are working fast and furious behind the scenes. Many of us are.

KARA: I know you are definitely a part of that team.

JOANN: And, but we are so excited to have this Menopause Solutions Seminar available online. So many women that are out of state or all over the country, or even here in the twin cities, since we can't do classes right now…

KARA: That's so exciting that you guys are almost done with that.

JOANN: So remember: food matters. We can't wait to help more of you.

KARA: Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. And it's a simple, but a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. So take care, everyone. Be safe and be well.

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