Small Diet Changes Can Bring Big Health Benefits for Older Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Reaching menopause is a good time to assess your life. One of the most important things to look at is the quality of diet since that what you eat can have a major effect on your health.

    For instance, the Mayo Clinic encourages you to consider the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that this type of diet is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer and a reduced chance of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This type of diet emphasizes eating plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.  In addition, you’re encouraged to use health fats such as olive oil instead of butter and also using herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring. Red meat is not part of this diet; instead, you’re encouraged to eat fish and poultry at least twice a week. The diet also gives you the option of drinking red wine in moderation. You’re also encouraged to be physically active and to dine communally.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    So how difficult is it to embrace this type of diet?  A new study out of the United Kingdom looked at perceived barriers to the Mediterranean diet among 124 women and 82 men who were at least 50 years of age.

    Their analysis found that participants adhered to the following components of the Mediterranean diet: consuming chicken, turkey or rabbit meat (81 percent); getting at least two servings a day of vegetables (78 percent); and drinking less than 1 sweet or carbonated beverage a day (70 percent). The study also found areas for improvement among the participants: using 4 or more tablespoons of olive oil (6 percent); eating less than 1 serving daily of red meat, hamburger, or meat products (8 percent); and drinking at least 7 glasses of wine weekly (12 percent). Additionally, some of the study participants were not limiting their consumption of foods such as red meat and butter/margarine.

    The researchers found that study participants who reported having relatively healthier eating patterns still had significant room for improvement.  Furthermore, even small changes to more closely adhere to the Mediterranean diet were found to be strongly associated with lower health risks.

    Participants also were asked about barriers that limit their adoption of healthier eating patterns. One group of participants described these barriers as having a busy lifestyle, irregular working hours, and the belief that one needs to have a lengthy preparation to cook healthy. These barriers were found in younger study participants who were more overweight and who had the lowest adoption of the Mediterranean diet. These time issues also were believed to affect other health behaviors, such as exercising. Another set of barriers included a lack of willpower and difficulty giving up foods that the person liked. This group tended to be older and leaner and these participants had a higher adoption of the Mediterranean diet. A third group did not identify any barriers and had a higher adoption of the Mediterranean diet; this group was older and had the leanest participants. Interestingly, the researchers did not find that cost or lack of cooking skills were barriers among participants in the study.  

  • So what does this study mean for menopausal women? First of all, making small changes in your overall diet add up. Try eating a handful of nuts as your afternoon snack and regularly opt for a glass of water over a soda. Try to opt for the menu items that include more vegetables when eating out. Choose chicken or fish regularly and only eat red meat on occasion as a treat. Prepare more meals at home so you have control over what you’re eating. And most importantly, enjoy!

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    Lara, J., McCrum, L. A., & Mathers, J.C. (2014). Association of Mediterranean diet and other health behaviours with barriers to healthy eating and perceived health among British adults of retirement age. Maturitas, 79(3), 292-298.

    Mayo Clinic. (2013). Nutrition and healthy eating.

Published On: October 27, 2014