How Your Diet Affects Hormones and Menopause

How Your Diet Affects Hormones and Menopause

By: Alexis Supan RD • Posted on July 20, 2023

What are hormones?

Hormones are the chemical messengers in our body that help coordinate our body’s functions. We have over 50 hormones in our body and they’re all essential to our health. During menopause our bodies start to produce less of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. The decrease in these hormones may lead to health issues such as weight gain, increased cholesterol and decreased bone density and muscle mass. It is also the cause of common side effects of menopause such as insomnia, hot flashes and night sweats.

Does diet affect hormones?

The short answer is Yes! But this must be clear: While our diet can affect our hormones, our diet can not fix a hormone imbalance when there is a root cause besides poor diet. For example, if you have hypothyroidism there is no special diet or food that can fix this. So if you're hoping to treat an underlying hormone issue through diet alone, you are out of luck. If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, please speak with your doctor.

For those dealing with the hormonal changes associated with menopause, lifestyle changes can help alleviate side effects. Avoiding highly processed foods which can negatively affect our hormone balance is an important first step in improving hormone balance. Instead, choose to eat a diet rich in whole foods like the Mediterranean diet. This diet is rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, seafood and healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet discourages the foods that cause inflammation and negatively impact our hormone balance, such as added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.

Are there specific foods I should focus on during menopause?

There are certain food groups and nutrients that are shown to be helpful to women in menopause. Be sure to consume adequate amounts of the following:

Whole Grains

Eating mostly whole grains instead of refined grains will help keep your cholesterol and weight in healthier ranges.


If you aren’t lactose intolerant, including some dairy in the diet can be a great way to consume protein, Calcium and Vitamin D which will help maintain your bone density. Vitamin D is hard to get through diet alone so talk to your doctor about supplementing.

Colorful fruits and vegetables, ideally seasonal for increased variety

Getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can not only help you avoid menopause-related weight gain, it can also help improve your gut health. Add in probiotic foods such as kefir, kim chi, and miso to improve your gut health even more!


Phytoestrogens are compounds which mimic estrogen in our body and can be shown to lessen hot flashes. Broccoli, carrots, soy and legumes are good food sources, and red clover, red raspberry leaf and black cohosh tea are all good drink options. Coffee contains phytoestrogens as well, but keep it to just 1 or 2 cups a day.


Protein is important for sustaining muscle mass which we naturally start to lose with menopause. Stay strong by including fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, beans, chickpea pasta and soy in your diet!

While changes in hormones are natural, we can lessen the symptoms by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and see a doctor to help manage any hormone imbalances.

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
- Alexis Supan, RD

    About Alexis Supan, MPH, RD

    Alexis Supan, MPH, RD earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from The Ohio State University and became a dietitian in 2009. She has also earned a Master of Public Health degree from Case Western Reserve University. Alexis enjoys talking about food and nutrition with both patients and colleagues. She is passionate about educating others on how to make realistic and sustainable changes that can help improve their health and quality of life. She currently splits her time between seeing patients individually and speaking to groups on specific health and nutrition concerns or interests they have.

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