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Menopausal nutrition for hikers is a vast, deep subject.
And I'm not qualified to give expert advice.
But I do have access to lots of scientific journals and human biology textbooks, so I've done a lot of reading on this subject.
And, I've been through it and am here to tell you it's survivable.
Hiking during menopause has it's advantages! (no need for a down vest, for instance)
What motivates me to share this information is my desire for you to remain strong and active well into "old age" - define that with any number you wish, but for me, it's somewhere approaching triple digits (!!).
Let me share a few things I've gleaned about menopausal nutrition (and postmenopausal nutrition) for hiking women. This information goes beyond the protein/carbohydrate/fat information which is widely available.
Calcium is a big deal for older hiking females.
Osteoporosis can rob a menopausal hiker's bones of strength and resilience.
Calcium can enter your body in two ways: diet and supplements.
Either way, it's useful if it's together with another mineral, magnesium (discussed below).
Dietary sources of calcium include
So if you've never been a "salad" person, it might be time to switch from soup to salad for dinner.
*Except for a few cautions: spinach can actually deplete your calcium levels, as can coffee and some beans if they haven't been properly prepared. Normal intake levels shouldn't pose a problem, though.
Calcium supplements come in various forms of calcium salts:
Talk with your health care provider about which choice is best for you.
Various factors in the decision might be:
And speaking of the safety of calcium supplementation, check out this recently released science.
It's actually a "study of studies", pooling information from many studies (meta-analysis) in an attempt to answer the question: Is there an association between calcium supplements and increased risk of cardiovascular disease?
The answer to the question: Perhaps.
You can read the entire article here.Speaking strictly for myself, I think it's a cautionary note for women who are at risk for cardiovascular disease to avoid supplementation, in favor of daily calcium through dietary sources.
There might be a detrimental effect on blood vessels if the calcium concentration in the watery part of the blood (plasma) shoots up quickly, post ingestion of a supplement.
More gradual blood calcium levels are achieved by chewing, swallowing, and digesting the calcium rich foods mentioned above, and that appears to be a better scenario for the cardiovascular system.
Makes sense, right? Mother Nature has it figured out!One more quick little calcium fact.
If you're raising children or grandchildren, be aware that they are accumulating calcium in their bone matrix up until the age of 18 years of so.
Menopausal nutrition for hikers should also include this mineral, because magnesium is vital for proper muscle and nervous system functions.
Hikers need to protect these functions, because that's where we get our strength, endurance, coordination, adequate energy levels, and balance.
The good news about magnesium is that it's easy to get in a normal diet.
What to eat during menopause to ensure you're getting enough magnesium:
These foods should be the backbone of your menopausal nutrition.
If you're taking a calcium supplement, this may increase your need for magnesium.
Magnesium supplementation (over and above what you are getting in
your food) has been correlated with increased bone mineral density in
post-menopausal women, possibly because it prevents the bone matrix from
being turned over quickly. Something worth talking to your health care
As is true for calcium, magnesium comes in various forms:
Talk with your health care provider about this, because the choice you make depends upon your symptoms and baseline, as well as any medical conditions or medications.
Here's another interesting component of menopausal nutrition.
Just like calcium and magnesium, potassium is a small charged particle (ion) which is used to accomplish many jobs inside your cells.
Chances are, you are getting enough of this nutrient in your food if you are eating meat, fruit, and vegetables.
Muscle weakness and fatigue may indicate a lack of potassium, important considerations for menopausal hikers.
This is especially true if you've been sweating a lot on the trail, or have had a recent bout of vomiting and/or diarrhea (fluid losses).
Ways to sneak in potassium:
Not having enough fiber in your diet sets you up for all sorts of nastiness.
Just two examples of why eating plant based fiber rich foods are important as we age.
Does your daily diet include these?
If these foods are unappealing, perhaps you'd rather get your fiber via a powder that can be added to your daily routine,.
Take the time to eat well, and your body will be ready to take you up and down the trail as you watch the years roll by.
Thanks for visiting!
And happy "prime of life" hiking. It's a blast!!
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