Tips for making a smooth transition to menopause
Today is World Menopause Day. You are classed as having reached the menopause 12 months after the date of your last period. On average, women reach the menopause at the age of 51, but this often ranges from the ages of 45 to 55. The perimenopause describes the period leading up to your menopause when hormones start to fluctuate, and your ovaries start to slow down. The perimenopause can start up to 10 years before you reach the menopause.
When we think of the menopause, we often think of hot flushes and night sweats, but it can affect a range of systems in the body and cause fatigue, low mood, anxiety, weight gain, digestive problems, dry skin, thrush and brain fog. The perimenopause and menopause transitions will affect all women, but it doesn’t all have to be bad news. There is a lot you can do with diet, lifestyle changes and supplements to make the transition as smooth as possible. So, whether you are in your late 30s or early 40s and looking to put steps in place to prepare for the perimenopause, whether you are in your 40s and starting to get some perimenopausal symptoms or whether you are close to the menopause, this blog has some tips that can help you.
- Make self-care a priority
Taking time out to relax and manage our stress levels is important at any stage of life, but never more so than around the time of the menopause. As our supply of oestrogen from the ovaries starts to reduce and ultimately stop, our adrenal glands become the main source of oestrogen in the body. But if we are stressed, our adrenal glands put all their energy into producing cortisol, our stress hormone and have no reserves left to produce oestrogen as well. This will make any menopausal symptoms you are experiencing much worse. So, take some time out every day to do something relaxing – whether that’s having a soak in the bath, taking a walk in nature or doing some yoga or breathing exercises (see my blog for ideas on managing stress).
- Eat more phytoestrogens
These plant based oestrogens are much weaker than our bodies natural oestrogen but can still lock onto the oestrogen receptors in our cells and trick the body into believing it still has a supply of oestrogen. Good sources of phytoestrogens are organic tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame beans, flaxseed, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
Research shows that women who eat plenty of fruit and vegetables are less likely to experience menopausal symptoms. This is because of all the vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium within fruit and vegetables that help to balance hormones and support our energy and nervous system. Including plenty of cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, watercress and rocket) helps to ensure that our used hormones are broken down into safer forms of oestrogen.
- Balance your blood sugar levels
Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced can help you avoid weight gain, keep your energy levels up and help keep your hormone levels more balanced. The best way to do this is to avoid sugary drinks, snacks and treats. Instead have a good source of protein (e.g. fish, meat, pulses, tofu) at each meal which will balance your blood sugar levels. And opt for protein based snacks e.g. nuts and seeds, energy balls or hummus and vegetable sticks. (See my blog on blood sugar balance).
- Include healthy fats in your diet
Omega 3 fats help with mood, brain function and hormone balance. Healthy fats also help to balance blood sugar levels and can reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Good sources of omega 3 are oily fish (salmon, mackerel sardines, anchovies and herring), flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Other sources of healthy fats are avocados, olives, olive oil, tahini and sesame seeds. Some of these foods also contain vitamin E which research shows can help reduce the severity of hot flushes.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol can trigger hot flushes and make them worse. Caffeine can increase cortisol levels and reduce nutrient absorption. Both substances can disrupt our hormone balance.
Instead opt for herbal teas, smoothies or kombucha (find some other ideas here).
To get some help putting all this together, download my free e-book Supporting you Through the menopause transition which provides lots of tasty recipe ideas using foods that can reduce menopausal symptoms.
If you would like a more personalised plan to help you manage the menopause then do get in touch to book in a free 30 minute hormone health review to find out how nutritional therapy could support you.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.