Menopause can be a challenging time for many women, particularly as we often have no idea when it will start creeping up on us. Due to the unpredictable nature of menopause, women entering perimenopause may not always be able to identify it.
Technically, menopause is one day and signifies one whole year without a period. However, in the run-up to this one day, many women experience a variety of perimenopausal symptoms as the body begins to reduce oestrogen production.
The decline of oestrogen is not linear; in some months, you’ll have higher oestrogen levels than others. This can explain why your symptoms may change throughout the perimenopausal stage.
Perimenopause can last between 1 and 10 years and often occurs between 45–60. It’s important to note that in some cases, women can experience early menopause (before the age of 45), which can occur due to several reasons, such as cancer treatments, genetics or a hysterectomy.
There are around 150 symptoms associated with menopause; however, not every woman will experience all of them. The most common symptoms include changes in weight distribution, stress, anxiety, low mood, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, impaired sleep, impaired memory or concentration, lower bone mineral density, and reduced energy levels.
Unfortunately, even though menopause is a very natural part of a female’s lifecycle, it’s still often a taboo subject.
The good news is that whilst diet alone cannot solely manage menopausal symptoms, looking after your nutrition and establishing good habits in the lead-up to menopause can make it far more manageable. Below are some tips for managing your menopausal symptoms and supporting your well-being in the lead-up and throughout perimenopause.
Five ways to change your diet during perimenopause
Increase your flaxseeds, oily fish, and walnuts
Milled flaxseeds, oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, and sardines) and walnuts are great sources of omega-3, which have been found to reduce hot flushes and improve mental well-being in peri–menopausal women.
Omega-3 can help with maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol levels can increase throughout the perimenopause, so managing them beforehand can be helpful. Try opting for one portion of milled flaxseeds or walnuts per day.
Add in the leafy greens
Green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium, a key nutrient required in over 600 processes in the body and help with energy maintenance, sleep and muscle and nerve relaxation. Impaired sleep is a common symptom in perimenopause, and ensuring you’ve got plenty of magnesium can help to support this. Other dietary sources of magnesium include flaxseeds, almonds, fish, and meat.
Load up on your dairy
Dairy is well known for being rich in calcium, which is vital for supporting bone health. As oestrogen levels fall during perimenopause, there can be an increased risk of lower bone mineral density. Focusing on your bone health in the years leading up to and throughout perimenopause can help support longevity.
Calcium set tofu, tahini, green peas, nuts, and seeds are also rich in calcium. Additionally, vitamin D and vitamin K work alongside calcium to support bone health; therefore, they shouldn’t be forgotten. The recommendations are to supplement with 10µg of vitamin D daily during winter. Vitamin K can be found in green leafy vegetables and fermented soy, such as natto.
Reassess your habits
The time before perimenopause is the perfect opportunity to reassess your habits. Having an extra wine in the evening, an afternoon coffee or a high-sugar breakfast muffin is easy. However, these habits can quickly add up and may impact menopausal symptoms.
If you’re perimenopausal, it’s not too late to make changes, but this isn’t about adding extra pressure; it’s about making small tweaks that can make a difference.
Try switching your afternoon coffee for herbal tea or your breakfast muffin for a bowl of porridge or yoghurt, and limit that extra glass of chardonnay. What you do every day makes a difference to your long-term health.
Increase your lignans
Lignans are chemicals found naturally in plants and can have similar effects as oestrogen, which may help manage perimenopausal symptoms. Lignans can be found in Linwoods Menoligna alongside soy products such as tofu and soy yoghurt.
Add two spoonfuls of Linwoods Menoligna to yoghurt, porridge, smoothies, soups or salads each day for optimal benefits.
Supporting your health in the lead-up and throughout the perimenopause doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s the little things that count. When thinking about your diet, try to ensure you’re packing in that extra portion of greens, taking a vitamin D supplement throughout the winter, and enjoying an extra portion of nuts and seeds. Everyday changes can help to make your menopause a bit more manageable.
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