Addressing deficiencies and underlying imbalances though correct nutrition and lifestyle can make a big difference to how you transition through the menopause as well as to the severity of the symptoms you experience.
Diet and lifestyle is shown to be key for helping to improve both physical and mental health through peri menopause and beyond. For many, these recommendations are shown to greatly reduce symptoms experienced such as hot flushes, brain fog, aches and pains, mood swings, anxiety, and insomnia.
There are quite a few recommendations so I would suggest choosing just one thing to improve and then move onto the next. Maybe choose your area of weakness, or of course, if you need help be sure to get in touch.
1. Ensuring blood sugar balance with a low GI diet is one of the first things I always introduce with clients. Poor blood sugar control is a significant stressor on the body. High insulin also directly impacts levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) which controls the amount of hormone such as oestrogen and testosterone delivered around the body.
2. Eat foods rich in plant Phyto-oestrogens thought to help maintain hormonal balance. Phytoestrogens found in plants like flaxseed, alfalfa sprouts, soya beans, garlic, and chickpeas have a mild oestrogenic effect which can help to reduce menopausal symptoms by modulating oestrogen levels in the body.
3. Eating a nutrient dense diet as well as optimising intake of specific nutrients can help in maintaining health through the menopause. Natural fats, omega 3s, Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables are all important for hormone balance and detoxification. Ensure good intake of vitamin C, B vitamins, (particularly B6), magnesium, folate, and zinc for their impact on hormonal health. Supplementation may also be beneficial.
4. Ensure a healthy gut microflora (the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in your digestive tract) responsible for the production of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase which regulates oestrogen levels in the body. This is particularly important to stop the build-up of harmful oestrogen metabolites reducing risk of oestrogen related cancers. Adding in fermented foods, fibre and prebiotics may help here. (These foods can also exacerbate wind and digestive symptoms in some people so go carefully!)
5. Support adrenal function and levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Stress management is so powerful. Chronically raised stress hormones directly impact levels of sex hormones and hormonal imbalances. A low GI, blood sugar balancing diet, and good intake of vit C, magnesium, B vitamins and adaptogen herbs.
6. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are all shown to improve menopausal symptoms.
7. Low oestrogen levels increase the risk of osteoporosis. Maintain or improve bone density by including plenty of food sources of vitamins D and K2, vit C, magnesium, and calcium to help to support bone. Collagen is also shown to help. Be careful of too much phosphorus found in high amounts in soft drinks for example, sodium and stress which have negative effects on bone density.
8. Appropriate exercise will improve bone density and is associated with a lower risk and severity of menopausal symptoms.
9. Quality sleep is so important! I often find, that as clients improve their diet, their sleep improves, but if this is a particular problem for you, being consistent with sleep and wake times and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and artificial light exposure may help. Try limiting electronics before bed. Magnesium, certain herbs and meditation can also support quality sleep.
10. If you suffer anxiety, migraines, headaches you may benefit from reducing foods high in biogenic amines and histamines such as aged cheeses, meats, vinegar and pickles, red wine, and some fruits.
11. Reduce exposure to environmental toxins shown to disrupt hormone balance such as heavy metals, environmental chemicals, pesticides, and phthalates. A good place to start is swapping your beauty products to more natural brands, avoid plastic wraps and storage containers and getting rid of Teflon coated cooking appliances. There are lots of natural alternatives and apps to check the safety of your products.
12. Undergo testing to rule out underlying causes. Working with clients to overcome hormonal issues I would often consider testing to rule out underlying imbalances such as a full thyroid panel, hormone panels, HBA1C or fasting blood glucose to rule out blood sugar issues, inflammation or nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin D, B12, Iron, or a fatty acid profile.
I hope this helps, and if you have any questions or need any help please do get in touch.
I work with clients helping them manage chronic health conditions, overcome poor health and wellbeing, and tackle annoying symptoms naturally through diet and lifestyle.
I am super excited to be launching an online group programme in January alongside Bridget, a brilliant chiropractor and clinical hypnotherapist and mindset therapist, helping you to make REAL and IMPACTFUL change!
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