As women go through menopause, hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels, can significantly impact their health. One notable effect is weight gain, which can be attributed to hormonal imbalances. Failing to manage diet and exercise during this stage of life can result in changes in body shape and increased vulnerability to various diseases.
It is essential for menopausal women to pay attention to their dietary choices. Consuming a diet lacking in fresh vegetables and fruits can have detrimental effects on health. These fresh produce items are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which help reduce oxidative damage, inhibit carcinogens, and protect against DNA damage. Phytochemicals present in these foods also play a role in preventing various diseases. Despite the rising costs of food, it is important to prioritize the inclusion of diverse vegetables, fruits, seaweed, and fish in one’s diet. Saving on food expenses may result in costly hospital bills due to potential health complications.
Alcohol consumption is another factor that menopausal women should consider. Research suggests that daily alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancer by 30% for postmenopausal women (National Cancer Information Center data). Alcohol falls under Group 1 carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a subsidiary of the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, women generally have lower alcohol metabolism rates compared to men, making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol on their health.
Aside from alcohol, processed meat products such as ham, sausages, and bacon should be consumed in moderation. During the processing of meat in factories, carcinogenic substances can be formed. The IARC classifies processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, which increases the risk of colorectal and gastric cancer. Grilling processed meat over high heat can further generate powerful carcinogens such as benzopyrene. Given that menopause accelerates the aging and changes in the body, weakening the colon and stomach mucosa, opting for unprocessed and natural foods is better for overall health.
Salt consumption also deserves attention. It is not about completely avoiding salt but rather reducing its intake. South Korea’s salt consumption is two to three times higher than the recommended levels by WHO. Many Korean dishes, such as kimchi, side dishes, and pickles, already contain sufficient amounts of salt. Adding more salt to meals can have detrimental effects on health, increasing the risk of hypertension, gastric cancer, stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. These diseases are commonly observed in middle-aged and older adults. It is crucial for individuals in this age group to prioritize health over taste preferences.
Lastly, excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain and contribute to various diseases, including cognitive disorders. WHO recommends a daily sugar intake of 50g when consuming a 2000 kcal diet. Recent research conducted by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has shown that excessive sugar consumption in middle-aged individuals can lead to inflammation, vascular diseases, and other health issues. Menopausal women who are at higher risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases should resist the temptation of consuming excessive sweet foods. Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle becomes a significant challenge during this stage of life.
In conclusion, menopausal women need to be mindful of their health and make informed dietary choices. The hormonal changes during menopause can have a significant impact on their well-being, including weight gain and increased susceptibility to diseases. By maintaining a balanced diet, reducing alcohol and processed meat intake, controlling salt