PHOENIX -- Ask any woman who's been through "the change of life" and she'll probably tell you that with its hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and pounding heart, menopause certainly is no picnic.
Dr. Angela DeRosa, who went through menopause herself when she was just 35, says there are foods that can help ease the symptoms.
"Women can have it at any age," DeRosa said. "It's considered premature before the age of 40. Any time after the age of 40, it can be natural for that particular woman. It's genetically determined."
Other symptoms of menopause include night sweats, skin flushing, forgetfulness, decreased interest in sex, mood swings, vaginal dryness, joint aches and heart palpitations.
DeRosa said foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help head off bone loss, as well as aiding in cancer prevention.
"Also, vitamin D can prevent fibromyalgia-like symptoms," DeRosa said.
Fiber-rich foods help decrease glucose swings and help you avoid gaining weight. They also decrease inflammation and constipation.
Tofu and soy contain phytoestrogens that help combat many menopausal symptoms. Decrease in estrogen is one of the hallmarks of menopause.
Good fats help keep your good cholesterol up.
Water, of course, is essential.
"Typically, an average diet should have at least a gallon of water a day," DeRosa said. "Here in Arizona, when we have excessive heat and you're out doing a lot of activity, you might need to double that."
The caution there is that you need to make sure you keep your electrolytes balance. Sports drinks can help with that.
Just as there are foods that can help ease symptoms of menopause, there are those that exacerbate them.
Doctors usually recommend avoiding caffeine, processed sugars, starches, alcohol and spicy foods.