The Impact of Diet an Alcohol Consumption on Menopause

By: Guest Author

Published: August 25, 2023

Written by Ainsley Lawrence- Guest Contributor

For years women have said that drinking alcohol makes their menopause symptoms worse. And this makes sense, as alcohol, and even the foods you consume, can play a significant role in your health. In other words, poor drinking and eating habits can make you feel ill, especially if you already have health problems.

However, the effects of diet and exercise on menopause are now more than hearsay. Women’s health experts have found that alcohol consumption can more negatively affect menopause. Some doctors are even saying that alcohol and menopause can be a dangerous mix.

Unfortunately, there has been an uptick in alcohol consumption since the pandemic, especially among women. This is primarily due to the fact that women supposedly drink more alcohol as a coping mechanism. And while drinking too much has always been an issue, it’s even more of a concern now, especially for menopausal women.

How Diet and Alcohol Affect the Mind and the Body

Alcohol, in particular, can have numerous side effects that can negatively impact various parts of the body.

Body Systems Affected by Alcohol

The central nervous system (CNS) is one of the first parts of the body to be affected by alcohol consumption. Alcohol works like a depressant for your CNS, which causes mood fluctuations, and it can also deplete your serotonin. Your behavioral and cognitive functions are also affected, and can result in impaired motor skills, decreased inhibitions, and trouble speaking.

Other bodily functions and systems affected by alcohol include the circulatory system, which can damage the heart and lungs. Alcohol also impacts the digestive system, the renal system (kidneys), and sexual health. And the immune system can also be affected, leading to immunodeficiency.

Mental Health, Mood, and Stress Levels

The foods and drinks you consume can also play a role in mental health and stress levels. Research shows that overconsumption of certain foods and alcohol can trigger stress, anxiety, and even depression.

Sugar, for example, is one of the worst foods for stress and anxiety, and plenty of alcoholic drinks have high amounts of sugar. Eating too many sweets can also cause the same problems because consuming large amounts of sugar can result in sudden spikes and drops in glucose levels. These fluctuations trigger stress and anxiety, which can then lead to panic attacks, mood swings, and depressive episodes.

Plenty of other foods, such as gluten, processed meats, and caffeinated products, can also increase stress. Caffeine is especially problematic as it can increase blood pressure, mess with hormones, and disrupt sleep.

Diet and Alcohol: The Impact on Women and Menopause

The issue with alcohol and menopause is that women are less tolerant of alcohol than men. Women have less of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol, meaning they absorb alcohol more and thus have worse side effects. And as women get older and start experiencing menopause, they are even more vulnerable to the harsh side effects of alcohol.

Many of the issues listed in the previous section can also occur during menopause. For example, the changes in hormones during menopause can cause:

  • Mood imbalances;
  • Higher levels of stress and anxiety;
  • Sleep disturbances;
  • Higher blood pressure.

This means women experiencing menopause can be doubly affected and have worse symptoms if they also have poor diet and alcohol habits.

Hot flashes and night sweats, which are common symptoms of menopause, can also be exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Increased health risks also come with poor diet, alcohol use, and menopause, such as:

  • Heart disease;
  • Stroke;
  • Osteoporosis;
  • Increased weight gain and diabetes.

Tips to Improve Physical and Mental Health During Menopause

The key to staying healthy throughout menopause and as you age is to practice moderation. If you can cut out alcohol and certain foods entirely, that would be best. But you don’t have to punish yourself and cut these things out entirely if you can learn to lead a more balanced life.

For example, if you still want to enjoy certain treats, snacks, and other goodies, just make sure you maintain a regular exercise routine. Regular exercise should be something you do anyways, but it’s especially important if you are someone who likes to indulge more often.

If you indulge in snacks and sweets now and then, just make sure you also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Foods that are particularly good at helping manage menopause include:

  • Plums;
  • Strawberries;
  • Apples;
  • Tomatoes;
  • Cabbage;
  • Carrots;
  • Cucumbers;
  • Onions;
  • Sweet potatoes.

Finding more ways to relieve stress is also important during menopause. This can be done by exercising more, getting outside more often, socializing, and developing a better sleep routine. As a whole, finding more ways to enjoy your life and have fun can help you alleviate stress and combat symptoms of menopause. You can also try stress-relieving practices like yoga and meditation.

Finally, it’s no secret that menopause can contribute or lead to emotional instability. Similar to regular menstrual cycles, estrogen and progesterone imbalances can cause women to have irritability, mood swings and depression. This is often in addition to unsavory hot flashes, night sweats and other uncomfortable symptoms. Treatment for these symptoms can’t come entirely from the grocery store and should be discussed with your doctor. Hormone therapy in conjunction with an appropriate diet can help you find the right balance for you and your body.

In Conclusion

Avoiding the negative side effects of poor diet and alcohol during menopause is all about balance and moderation. You can still enjoy a drink, just don’t do it as often or consume as much. And you can still enjoy your favorite treats, just eat smaller portions and supplement the rest of your diet with healthier options. The idea isn’t to completely deny yourself but to find a healthy balance that helps you better manage your menopause symptoms, alongside your doctor’s recommendations.

Author: Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can follow her on Twitter @AinsleyLawrenc3

The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.