The years leading up to the menopause – defined as a year after your last period – can be difficult as our hormones change dramatically during this time. Some women are lucky to sail through this time with hardly a symptom, while others are plagued with hot flushes, sleepless nights, mood swings and weight gain to mention just a few common symptoms.
One of the known drivers of the severity of these symptoms is stress. Research has shown that women under percieved stress have significantly worse vasomotor symptoms than those women who do not undergo stress. However, in today’s busy world, when women are often dealing with work, their own family and the pressures of aging parents, avoiding stress is no mean feat.
It is important for women to find some time for themselves. Half an hour a day, either doing some gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates or simply just relaxing is important to wellbeing. Sleep is also impotant ( see Sleep Tips)
Our diet is also crucial at this time. Remember, that all our body functions require nutrients, so this is a time to focus on a nutrient rich, wholefoods diet, keeping refined and processed foods, sugar and alcohol to a minimum. Focussing on lots of plant foods -fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, wholegrains with good qualty proteins like lean meat, poultry, oily fish, eggs as well as pulses and beans is a great start. Once again the Mediterranean Diet is a great place to start
My four main points of focus for a healthy diet during perimenopause and beyond are:-
- Balance your blood sugar – eat 3 proper meals a day, including a portion of protein, and good fat with each meal and ensuring that all your carbohydrates are low GL
- Eat plenty of Phytoestrogen foods like lentils, flaxseeds, pulses, soy and beans. These adaptogenic plants can help respond to fluctuating oestrogen levels.
- Look after your liver. The liver is a wonderful organ with hundreds of functions including glucose storage, vitamin production, blood cleansing as well as other waste and toxin removal. It is under a great deal of additional pressure at this time as it helps us eliminate used hormones. Eating lots of cruciferous veg like cabbage and cauliflower, alliums, like garlic and onions as well as foods rich in Vitamins B and C and good proteins can help. Go easy on the sugar and alcohol and your liver will thank you for it!
- Look after your gut. Your beneficial gut bacteria plays a crucial role in allowing your body to detoxify used oestrogens, as well as producing vitamins and short chain fatty acids. It also will support your immunity and mood. So remember to eat plenty of the 3 Ps – Pre biotics, Probiotics and Polyphenols from a diverse intake of plant foods.
If you’d like a consultation to find your own Personalised Menopause friendly diet, then just contact Tricia@goodnutritionfirst.co.uk