World Menopause Day: British Nutrition Foundation warns cost-of-living crisis amplifies menopausal symptoms
18 Oct 2022 --- On the occasion of World Menopause Day, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) is releasing findings revealing that the cost-of-living crisis has created barriers to managing the symptoms of menopause for women across the UK, primarily due to the emotional and financial impacts of the crisis.
However, it also found that many women are unaware of the symptoms of menopause as well as the effects caused by the associated decrease in estrogen levels, revealing a need for more education on the subject.
The YouGov-led survey found that an estimated 32% of women experiencing menopause in the UK have tried hormone replacement therapy to prevent, cope with or lessen the effects of menopause. However, it also found that one out of ten women are having a harder time affording their medications since the start of the crisis.
A proper diet may help with symptoms, but it may also be out of reach for many. Moreover, 22% of women in the survey stated they were less able or unable to purchase particular foods and 25% say the same about vitamin supplements intended to alleviate menopause-related symptoms.
“Our survey highlighted that many women are not hearing the importance of messages about how what they eat can influence not only their symptoms but also their long-term health,” Dr. Louise Durrant, nutrition communications manager at the BNF, tells NutritionInsight.
“Ensuring women who are going through menopause have access to sound, evidence-based diet and lifestyle information may help them feel more empowered to navigate through their menopause journey,” she explains.
Mindful of menopause
According to the BNF, 37% of women state that stress due to finances exacerbates their menopausal symptoms. Furthermore, there is low awareness regarding how simple lifestyle and diet changes can support health and lessen symptoms both during and after menopause.
The BNF notes that 40% of all women in Great Britain know that some supplements may reduce symptoms, and 29% have actually tried herbal supplement remedies despite a lack of scientific evidence regarding their safety or efficacy.
Additionally, the survey states that only about 44% of women know they need to take vitamin D and calcium to offset bone loss and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis caused by the lack of estrogen.
“Eating a healthy, varied diet may help to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms, and can also help protect against some of the longer-term health conditions that postmenopausal women have a higher risk of such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and support a healthy weight,” explains Durrant.
“Several herbal or botanical remedies, such as red clover, black cohosh, St John’s wort and sage, are often marketed to suggest they relieve menopausal symptoms, but more scientific studies are needed to confirm their safety and effectiveness, and the National Health System does not recommend their use,” she stresses.
The survey further reveals that an estimated 16% of women currently experiencing menopause are working extra hours and picking up extra shifts so they can afford basic necessities and 14% are now either less able or unable to afford the gym memberships and exercise classes they used to cope with menopausal symptoms, strengthen bones and increase bone density.
“General awareness among women of how diet and lifestyle choices can impact and help them cope with the symptoms of menopause is growing,” affirms Sara Moger, CEO of the British Menopause Society. “There is now more evidence-based advice widely available so that women are able to self-help and manage better.”
“Eating a healthy, varied diet may help to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms, and can also help protect against some of the longer-term health conditions that postmenopausal women have a higher risk of such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and support a healthy weight,” Durrant concludes.
By William Bradford Nichols
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