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Archive for October 3rd, 2012

If women live long enough, all will experience menopause. Will what they eat affect their quality of life during this phase of the life cycle?

Each day about 6,000 women reach menopause. Some 80 percent will experience night sweats and vasomotor symptoms—better known as hot flashes. Up to half of those will have moderate to severe discomfort.

Women with larger body sizes, whether because of a higher body mass index or greater amounts of fatty tissue, tend to have more frequent or greater severity of symptoms. Likewise, as women gain weight or increase fat cells, they boost their chances of more problems.

A study reported in the journal Menopause supports evidence that weight loss can lessen symptoms. Nearly one-fourth of women who lost at least 10 pounds experienced fewer menopausal difficulties. The greatest relief occurred, however, in more than 50 percent of the participants who lost 10 percent or more of their body weight.

Some studies have indicated that a high-fiber, low-fat diet may reduce symptoms. In the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, the women most likely to become symptom-free after one year were those who daily consumed a low-fat diet (20 percent or less of calories from fat) with five or more high-fiber servings of fruits and vegetables and six servings of whole grains. They also lost more weight than the control group.

Questions remain as to whether the high-fiber, low-fat diet lessened symptoms or if improvement resulted from losing weight. Regardless, weight-loss made a difference in the quality of life. The results from these studies seem like a win-win situation for women plagued with unpleasant side-effects of menopause.

What have you got to lose—except weight and hot flashes.

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