The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, according to the Mayo Clinic. But menopause can happen to women throughout their 40’s and 50’s, too. However, it is possible for perimenopause to start in the late 30s (early or premature menopause) and early 40’s. The symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman. The symptoms range from hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, loss of libido, insomnia, and mood changes. However, some women may experience no symptoms while going through menopause. Menopause is triggered by the lack of estrogen produced by the ovaries. The primary indicator of menopause is an irregular menstrual cycle that eventually becomes non-existent.

Menopause is a reality check that things are changing. The symptoms can remind you of this “change” throughout the day. Keeping an eye on what you eat is essential all the time, but primarily essential through menopause. Maintaining a healthy diet like incorporating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is vital for the proper function of all of your body systems. If you must drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum, one drink or less per day. Cutting back on caffeine and spicy foods can help with hot flashes in some cases. Also, watching your salt intake can help as well. Staying hydrated is critical for all aspects of good health. Water moves fiber through your body and can also help against hot flashes.

Incorporating calcium in your diet is especially important during menopause. It is recommended that you need about 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. In addition to calcium supplements, you can find significant calcium in dairy products, kale, fortified cereal, fortified orange juice, soybeans, and fortified soy milk.

Stay active! Try to do at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day or a few days a week, at least. Taking your dog for a walk or walking on a trail can help get your heart rate up as well as being easily enjoyed. Make decisions that will help you to be more active, even if it is choosing to park further away from your destination or choosing the stair over the elevator.

Keep in mind that menopause is a process, which typically has an end. Keeping yourself as healthy as possible through the process will help you to feel your best once the worst of menopause has passed. It’s a similar concept to ‘weathering the storm.’ Aging causes the body to take a metabolic slowdown. Weight gain can cause many health issues, from heart conditions to diabetes. Weight gain can also cause depression and low self-image.

Making changes to diet and exercise takes a lot of dedication and motivation. It is not easy; there are many community groups available to surround yourself with positive motivation and support. To stay dedicated to new diet and activity choices, it is a good idea to find others that are active in the same lifestyle choices.