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Managing menopause with diet

In this section, we discuss some of the lifestyle changes like eating well and being physically active, that may help to ease menopausal symptoms.  

If you feel like you need more support to manage your symptoms talk to your GP, who can offer you individual advice on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), non-hormonal medication and/or cognitive therapies, for example cognitive behavioural therapy, a talking therapy that can help with a low mood and feelings of anxiety. 

Eating a healthy, varied diet and making positive lifestyle changes can help to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. It can also help protect against some of the longer-term health conditions that postmenopausal women have a higher risk of such as osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones and makes them break more easily) and heart disease. Find out more on our page on reducing health risks after the menopause. 

Can a healthy diet help menopause symptoms?

Researchers have explored healthy dietary patterns such as a Mediterranean-style diet for managing menopausal symptoms.  

Limited evidence suggests that following a Mediterranean-style diet may help to improve some of the short-term menopausal symptoms such as vasomotor symptoms – these include hot flushes (sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest) and night sweats 

There has also been some research in women of menopausal age into the benefit of healthy dietary patterns on cognitive symptoms such as low mood and depression.  

Although studies suggest following a healthy dietary pattern may help with managing short-term menopausal symptoms like vasomotor symptoms, we still don’t have strong evidence. The good news is though that a healthy, varied diet and a healthy lifestyle before, during and after menopause can help protect our bone density, reduce the risk of heart disease and support a healthy weight. 

The principles of the Mediterranean-style diet are included in many national healthy eating guidelines, including the UK’s Eatwell Guide. These are characterised by:

  • higher consumption of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, seafood, nuts, seeds and pulses
  • moderate consumption of dairy
  • unsaturated fats as an important fat source, such as olive oil
  • lower intakes of fatty/processed meat, refined grains, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages
  • lower salt and lower saturated fat intakes

You can find out more about the Eatwell Guide on this NHS page.

Are there some foods that might make my menopause symptoms worse?

Try to cut down on foods that are likely to trigger or worsen symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. This might include coffee, alcohol and spicy foods.


To help manage hot flushes, try to limit your intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea, or choose decaffeinated versions and herbal infusions instead. It is best to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks close to bedtime as this may also contribute to poor sleep.


It is particularly important during and after the menopause to be aware of your alcohol intake. Alcohol is known to trigger menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and headaches. If you drink a lot of alcohol, your risk of osteoporosis is higher and drinking too much can increase the risk of heart disease.

Adults of all ages, including pre-, peri- and postmenopausal women, are recommended to consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, with several alcohol-free days each week.

For more information about alcohol and health, read our FAQs on alcohol.

Can soya products help with menopause symptoms?

You may have heard that some women choose to eat soya foods in menopause.

There has been a particular interest in soy and isoflavones in soya products or as supplements for relieving menopausal symptoms. This interest may have come from the lower rate of symptoms like hot flushes reported in women in South East Asian countries where soy consumption is high, compared to women in Western countries. However, it is unclear whether this is because of soy or other factors. 

Soy is also a source of plant compounds called phytoestrogens (also called plant oestrogens). Phytoestrogens have a similar structure to the human hormone oestrogen, but they are different from oestrogen and have much weaker effects. 

The two main types of phytoestrogens are isoflavones and lignans.

  • Sources of isoflavones in our diet include soybeans and soya products such as texturized vegetable protein, tofu and soya drinks or yogurts, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
  • Sources of lignans in our diet include wholegrains, linseeds, fruit and vegetables.

Although there is some evidence that isoflavones may help to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flushes this is not certain. Some studies show benefits and others find no effect. Additionally, it may take 2-3 months for any benefits to be seen. Currently, there is not enough evidence to make any strong recommendations on using soy or isoflavones to prevent or reduce symptoms like hot flushes.

The European Food Safety Authority (a panel of independent scientific experts) reviewed the studies on the benefit of soy isoflavones on hot flushes and night sweats and reported that the evidence was not sufficient. Therefore, no authorised health claims can be made on soy and isoflavones in foods and food supplements for relief of menopausal symptoms in the UK or in the European Union (EU).


However, soy and soy-based foods like tofu and edamame can be included as part of a healthier and more sustainable diet. They are a source of plant-based proteins and healthy fats, and they taste good too!

Can herbal supplements help with menopause symptoms?

Several herbal or botanical (a substance from plants, fungi, algae or lichens) remedies, such as red clover (a source of isoflavones), black cohosh, St John’s wort, sage and other Chinese herbs are marketed to help relieve menopausal symptoms, but more scientific studies are needed to confirm their safety and effectiveness.

Speak with your GP before taking any herbal remedies or supplements as they may have side effects or interact with other medications. It may be particularly important that individuals with history or a high risk of breast cancer should speak to their GP before taking herbal preparations like St John's wort and remember that anything ‘natural’ does not always mean benefit or that it can do no harm.

Some nutritional supplements (usually multivitamin, mineral and botanical formulations) are sold as menopause support for women during and after menopause. These typically will have nutrients with authorised UK and European health claims (see table below) for an aspect related to menopausal health. They might also include other ingredients, for example soy isoflavones, black cohosh and sage that are popularly considered of benefit but where the evidence is limited and for which there are currently no authorised health claims.

Authorized health claims for different nutrients related to menopausal health


Menopausal-related health benefit

Food sources

Vitamin B6

Supports the regulation of hormonal activity

Meat, poultry, fish, fortified breakfast cereals, egg yolk, yeast extract, soya beans, sesame seeds, some fruit and vegetables (such as banana, avocado and green pepper)

Calcium and vitamin D


Help reduce the loss of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Low bone mineral density is a risk factor for osteoporotic bone fractures.

Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, some green leafy vegetables (such as kale), calcium-fortified dairy alternatives, canned fish (where soft bones are eaten) and breads

Vitamin D: Oily fish, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and fat spreads


Contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Nuts and seeds (such as Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds), wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholegrain and seeded breads, brown rice and quinoa

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Contributes to normal mental performance

Wholegrains, green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes and dairy


Helps contribute to the maintenance of skin, hair and nails

Meat, poultry, cheese, some shellfish (such as crab, cockles and mussels), nuts and seeds (such as pumpkin seeds and pine nuts), wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholegrain and seeded breads

Thiamine (vitamin B1)

Contributes to normal heart function

Bread, fortified breakfast cereals, nuts and seeds, meat (especially pork), beans and peas

What lifestyle changes can I make to help with my menopause symptoms?

Healthy weight

Women who are overweight or living with obesity may experience more frequent and severe hot flushes. Eating a healthy, varied diet and exercising regularly can help you to keep a healthy weight.

To find out more about practical ways to have a healthy, balanced diet, read our pages on Balancing the diet.

Physical activity

Managing menopause symptoms

Regular exercise during and after the menopause can help to manage menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and sleep disturbances. Research also suggests that regular physical activity can improve your overall mental wellbeing and help to manage psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. Adults should aim to be active daily and do moderate-intensity aerobic activities like brisk walking adding up to at least 150 minutes over a week. Moderate intensity activity should raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster.

Supporting your heart and bone health

Muscle-strengthening activities (such as exercising with weights, doing yoga, carrying heavy loads or using resistance bands) are particularly important for supporting your bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis. You should try to do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week, in addition to 150 minutes of recommended aerobic activity. If you experience joint or muscle pain because of the menopause, try doing low-impact aerobic exercises that do not put stress on your joints. Some examples include swimming, light gardening and cycling.

Being physically active helps you to keep your heart healthy – people who don’t exercise are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who exercise regularly. Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your blood cholesterol level and keep your blood pressure down. Being sedentary like sitting down for long periods may also increase the risk of heart disease. Break up long periods spent sitting with periods of walking or standing throughout the day.

For more information read our pages on keeping active.


Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your general health. Smoking can increase the likelihood of experiencing menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and headaches. Other significant increased health risks associated with smoking include developing osteoporosis, stroke and heart disease. Get help and advice on stopping smoking from the NHS.

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Last reviewed September 2022. Next review due September 2025.

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Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any individualised advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.