image shows women coming out of the ocean after a swimShare on Pinterest
Getty Images/Catherine Ivill

Menopause begins in the late 40s or early 50s and usually lasts for a few years.

During this time, at least two-thirds of menopausal people experience symptoms of menopause (1).

These include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, irritability, and tiredness (1).

In addition, menopausal people are at higher risk of several diseases, including osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes (2).

Many people turn to natural supplements and remedies for relief (3).

Here’s a list of 11 natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Hormonal changes during menopause can cause bones to weaken, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium and vitamin D are linked to good bone health, so it’s important to get enough of these nutrients in your diet.

Adequate vitamin D intake during postmenopause is also associated with a lower risk of hip fractures from weak bones (4).

Many foods are calcium-rich, including dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese.

Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach have lots of calcium too. It’s also plentiful in tofu, beans, sardines, and other foods.

Additionally, calcium-fortified foods are also good sources, including certain cereals, fruit juice, or milk alternatives.

Sunlight is your main source of vitamin D, since your skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as you get older, your skin gets less efficient at making it.

If you’re not out in the sun much or if you cover up your skin, either taking a supplement or increasing food sources of vitamin D may be important.

Rich dietary sources include oily fish, eggs, cod liver oil, and foods fortified with vitamin D.

Summary

A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important to prevent the bone loss that can occur during menopause.

It’s common to gain weight during menopause.

This can be due to a combination of changing hormones, aging, lifestyle, and genetics.

Gaining excess body fat, especially around the waist, increases the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, body weight may affect menopause symptoms.

One study of 17,473 postmenopausal women found that those who lost at least 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of weight or 10% of their body weight over a year were more likely to eliminate hot flashes and night sweats (5).

Summary

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may help alleviate menopause symptoms and help prevent disease.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent a number of menopause symptoms.

Fruits and veggies are low in calories and can help you feel full, so they’re great for weight loss and weight maintenance.

They may also help prevent a number of diseases, including heart disease (6).

This is important, since heart disease risk tends to increase after menopause. This could be due to factors such as age, weight gain, or possibly reduced estrogen levels.

Finally, fruits and vegetables may also help prevent bone loss.

One observational study of 3,236 women ages 50 to 59 found that diets high in fruit and vegetables may lead to less bone breakdown (7).

Summary

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables may help keep bones healthy and can help prevent weight gain and certain diseases.

Certain foods may trigger hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes.

They may be even more likely to be triggers when eaten at night.

Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are sugary or spicy.

Keep a symptom diary. If you feel that particular foods trigger your menopause symptoms, try to reduce your consumption or avoid them completely.

Summary

Certain foods and drinks can trigger hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. This includes caffeine, alcohol, and sugary or spicy foods.

There is currently not enough evidence to confirm whether exercise is effective for treating hot flashes and night sweats (8, 9).

However, there is evidence to support other benefits of regular exercise, such as Pilates-based exercise programs. These benefits include improved energy and metabolism, healthier joints and bones, decreased stress, and better sleep (10, 11).

For example, a study in Korea that looked at the effects of a 12-week walking exercise program found that the exercise improved physical and mental health and overall quality of life in a group of 40 menopausal women (12).

Regular exercise is also associated with better overall health and protection against diseases and conditions including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis (13).

Menopausal people have a notable increase in heart disease risk; several studies show that regular exercise may help reduce this risk (14, 15).

Summary

Regular exercise can help alleviate menopause symptoms such as poor sleep, anxiety, low mood, and fatigue. It can also protect against weight gain and various diseases and conditions.

Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.

Therefore, they may help balance hormones.

The high intake of phytoestrogens in Asian countries such as Japan is thought to be the reason why menopausal people in these places rarely experience hot flashes.

Foods rich in phytoestrogens include:

However, the phytoestrogen content in foods varies depending on processing methods.

One study found that diets high in soy were associated with reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and reduced severity of hot flashes and night sweats among women participants who were starting to enter menopause (16).

However, the debate continues over whether soy products are good or bad for health.

Evidence suggests that real food sources of phytoestrogens are better than supplements or processed foods with added soy protein (17, 18).

Summary

Foods rich in phytoestrogens may have modest benefits for hot flashes and heart disease risk. However, the evidence is mixed.

During menopause, dryness is often an issue. This is likely caused by the decrease in estrogen levels.

Drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day can help with these symptoms.

Drinking water can also reduce the bloating that can occur with hormonal changes.

In addition, water can help prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss by helping you feel full and increasing metabolism slightly (19, 20).

Drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water, 30 minutes before a meal, may lead you to consume 13% fewer calories during the meal (20).

Summary

Drinking enough water may help prevent weight gain, aid in weight loss, and reduce symptoms of dryness.

A diet high in refined carbs and sugar can cause sharp rises and dips in blood sugar, making you feel tired and irritable. This may worsen the physical and mental symptoms of menopause.

In fact, one study found that diets high in refined carbs may increase the risk of depression in postmenopausal women (21).

Diets high in processed foods may also affect bone health, especially if these foods are replacing the nutrients you need from a daily balanced diet.

A large observational study found that among women ages 50 to 59, diets high in processed and snack foods were associated with poor bone quality (7).

Summary

Diets high in processed foods and refined carbs are associated with a higher risk of depression and worse bone health in postmenopausal people.

Eating regular meals may be important when you’re going through menopause.

Irregular eating may make certain symptoms of menopause worse and make weight management more difficult.

A yearlong weight management program for postmenopausal women found that skipping meals was associated with 4.3% less weight loss (22).

Summary

Irregular eating may cause some symptoms of menopause to worsen. Skipping meals may also hinder weight loss and management during postmenopause.

Regularly eating protein throughout the day can help prevent the loss of lean muscle mass that occurs with age.

One study found that consuming protein throughout the day at each meal may slow down muscle loss due to aging (23).

In addition to helping prevent muscle loss, high protein diets can help with weight loss because they enhance fullness and increase the number of calories burned (24).

Foods rich in protein include meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and dairy.

Summary

Regular intake of high quality protein may prevent the loss of lean muscle, aid in weight loss, and help regulate mood and sleep.

Many people may consider taking natural products and remedies to relieve their menopause symptoms.

But the evidence behind many of them is weak.

Here are the most common natural supplements for reducing symptoms of menopause:

  • Phytoestrogens. These can be consumed through natural food sources or supplements. There is currently not enough evidence to recommend them for alleviating menopause symptoms (25, 26).
  • Black cohosh. Although some studies found that black cohosh may effectively alleviate hot flashes, the evidence is mixed. In addition, there is a lack of long-term data on the safety of this supplement (27, 28).
  • Red clover. A review of studies found that red clover isoflavone supplements may help reduce the daily frequency of hot flashes from a baseline of three per day. However, study authors noted that more specific research is needed to confirm the effects of red clover on relieving flushing episodes and other menopause symptoms (29).
  • Other supplements. More research is needed on the effectiveness of other commonly used supplements such as probiotics, prebiotics, cranberry extract, kava, DHEA-S, dong quai, and evening primrose oil to help alleviate menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (30, 31).
Summary

Natural supplements may help treat menopause symptoms, but more evidence is needed about their safety and effectiveness, as well as accurate dosages and combinations.

How can I naturally balance my hormones during menopause?

Getting regular exercise and eating a nutrient-dense diet can help balance hormones during menopause. In some cases, you may also need to take supplements or medications to address symptoms. Talk with your doctor to find out what you need for menopause symptoms.

What are natural remedies for menopause symptoms?

Natural remedies for menopause symptoms include herbal supplements. Some of these contain plant estrogens called phytoestrogens that help balance low hormone levels during menopause. They may alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

It’s important to remember that even over-the-counter supplements can be potent and interact with other medications. Before you start taking supplements, talk with your doctor to make sure they are safe for you.

What foods make menopause worse?

Foods that cause your blood sugar (glucose) levels to spike can worsen some symptoms of menopause. These include refined, processed carbohydrates, such as sugary and starchy foods like:

  • cookies
  • chips
  • crackers
  • baked goods made with white flour

Also limit fried foods in your day to day.

Skipping meals or eating meals that don’t have plenty of protein and natural fats can also worsen menopause symptoms.

How can you stop hot flashes quickly?

Stay cool with breathable clothing and bedding to help reduce or stop hot flashes. Stress and certain foods, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, can also trigger hot flashes.

Keep a journal to find out what may make your hot flashes worse, and work to avoid those triggers whenever possible. With some trial and error, you will find your rhythm and what works for you.

Do natural remedies help reduce menopause symptoms?

Natural remedies, such as eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein and staying hydrated, can help reduce menopause symptoms — and they are good practices for your overall health.

Adding certain supplements to balance hormones may also help. However, it can take some time to find what works for you. Talk with your doctor about natural remedies to add to your daily regimen for menopause symptoms.

Menopause is not an illness. It’s a natural part of life.

Though its symptoms can be difficult to deal with, eating the right diet and exercising regularly may help alleviate and prevent them.

Experiment with the tips above to make your time during menopause and beyond easier and more enjoyable.