Menopause is a stage in a woman's life characterized by hormonal changes which may lead to physiological changes, a decrease of lean muscle mass, an increase in fat mass and bone decalcification. Menopause may also affect the intestinal track causing slower intestinal transit. Sometimes during this stage of life emotional changes including an increase in depression or irritability, anxiety, nervousness, decreased memory or a loss of libido may occur.
Andropause is a stage in the cycle of a man's life and similar to that of a woman's menopause. This change usually arises around the age of 40 and consists of a loss of androgens which decrease testosterone levels. Androgens have an anabolic function, an extremely important function affecting growth, production and maintenance of the reproductive system, brain, skin and bone. These losses may be reflected in psychological changes such as mood swings and depression. Physiological changes may present as erectile dysfunction, less sexual activity or virility and physical activity is often diminished at this stage.
The importance of Food and Exercise:
Physical activity is usually less in adulthood and is the reason we must pay more attention to the foods and portions that we consume. Meals should be adequate in providing enough energy to carry us through the day, but not so large that we accumulate an excess of body fat. Physical activity is a great plus for our emotional state of mind as it plays a large part in releasing hormones that make us feel in balance with our mood and health.
High-fibre foods such as whole-grain bread, brown pasta or brown rice and legumes are all excellent options to add to our diet. Consuming fiber effectively satiates hunger, so we stay feeling full longer and avoid eating extra snacks and meals. Fiber's nutritional contribution strengthens intestinal mobility and has a minimum percentage of fat. Fiber has many benefits!
Calcium and Vitamin D
Vitamins and minerals are important to consume on a daily basis as they play a valuable part in maintaining bone density. Most calcium-rich foods are dairy which should be avoided in large amounts and should be low in fat like panela and other cheeses, yogurt, milk. Less known are non-dairy food options which supply vital minerals and vitamins. Examples are; spinach, cabbage, pistachios, fish and fish bi products.
Mexico has a wide variety of dairy products. Low in fat products like jocoque, panela, various cheeses and custards can be found in local stores where the traditional process has been to make them without additives or preservatives that large commercial suppliers normally add to increase product shelf life.
Fun in the Sun
Sun exposure helps with the absorption of vitamin D but exposure to the sun should be taken in moderation. About 15 minutes a day supplies all the vitamin D needed. Extended sun exposure is extremely harmful to the skin and precautions need to be taken to protect yourself from the effects of prolonged exposure, like skin cancer and sun spots.
Your Cup 'o Joe
Caffeine, studies show that high caffeine consumption increases the loss of calcium in the urine. Older people need to prevent the loss of calcium and should be more aware of the total consumption of caffeine they consume from a variety of products like coffee, tea, sports drinks, sodas, chocolate and commercial products. It is easier to lose calcium than to replace it so enjoy caffeine but use in moderation.
Now that you know the essential nutrients and foods to consume during this time of life, ensure that your meals consist of a variety of these foods and healthy lifestyle choices.
Mexico has an array of places where you can relax and pamper yourself during this important cycle in your life. Don't forget that this process is very normal and natural. Acceptance at every stage of our lives allows us to choose options that best support a healthy lifestyle allowing us to achieve a good balance to live life well.