These are 5 of the fundamentals of nutrition & lifestyle for menopause and how targetted supplements can improve your menopause symptoms according to our Nutritional Therapists!
Recognising that ‘health’ is multifaceted and understanding that you cannot solely focus on nutrition in isolation without recognising the impact that other lifestyle and environmental factors in your life have on overall health is essential to thriving during menopause.
Perimenopause is the two-twelve years before your periods stop (menopause). Menopause is achieved when you do not have a period for 12 months. By your late 30’s or early 40’s things in your body have started to change. This time of change can feel overwhelming and chaotic for some women. For others, the symptoms (of which there are many) of perimenopause can be much milder.
The symptoms of perimenopause are extensive and while it is unlikely that you will experience all of them, it can be comforting to know that you’re not ‘going mad’ which is how many women can feel during this hormonal shift.
Perimenopause symptoms can include,but are not limited to:
- Missed or irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain (particularly around the mid section)
- Brain fog
- Itchy skin
- Aches & pains
- Thyroid problems
- Gut issues
This hormonal shift is often referred to as ‘second puberty’ as the body completely recalibrates and learns to function in the absence of hormones that it has been so accustomed to for the duration of your reproductive years; estrogen and progesterone. The brain and body needs to readjust to a new hormonal state and while it is undergoing this process, women experience the above symptoms.
While you cannot protect against perimenopause, as it is a very natural part of the female lifecycle (some women even find reaching menopause liberating!), you can absolutely do a number of things when it comes to nourishing your body that can help to smoothen this transition.
Below are the 5 fundamentals of nutrition & lifestyle for menopause:
1. Soothe your nervous system
Llosing progesterone and then estrogen can be destabilising for your brain and nervous system, this is part of the reason why anxiety and insomnia are top rated menopause symptoms.
When stressed we’re stressed the sympathetic nervous system is activated and our cortisol (our stress hormone) production is elevated which can result in symptoms such as depression, insulin resistance (i.e. weight gain), anxiety and insomnia.
It is vital that you to find ways to actively engage the parasympathetic nervous system (aka your rest and digest state of calm) and this can look different for different people but some great practices to support this state of inner calm are yoga, walking in nature, breathing techniques, rest and just slowing down in general - you do not need to say ‘yes’ to everything life throws at you!
2. Balance your Blood Sugars
One of the first way to actively soothe the nervous system is to balance your blood sugar levels.
What does this mean?
After we eat, particularly carbohydrate based foods, our body responds by producing a hormone called insulin to move these carbohydrates into the muscle in order for it to be used as energy. When we eat foods and meals that are not well balanced i.e. do not have a source of protein and fats to complement the carbohydrates, our insulin levels spike too quickly and .. what goes up, must come down. So your blood sugar levels end up looking like a rollercoaster rather than being controlled over the course of the day. This can result in moodiness, poor energy levels, hormonal imbalances and weight gain.
How to control your blood sugar levels:
Ensure that you are eating meals that contain a good source of protein (chicken, Greek yogurt, fish, eggs etc.) and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds) with your meals and snacks. And avoid skipping meals and having long gaps throughout your day with no food!
The prevalence of insulin resistance in menopause is significant so you may need to also consider minimising dessert-type foods and sweet treats if you are trying to lose weight and support your menopause symptoms.
3. Limit or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol can be particularly unhelpful during perimenopause. It is bad for sleep as it reduces your sleep hormone melatonin and disrupts circadian rhythm and it caan worsen hot flashes. It also has the ability to dysregulate the stress response (at an already vulnerable time), damage the gut microbiome, stimulate appetite which can result in overeating and impair estrogen metabolism which is why it’s a risk factor for estrogen related conditions like breast cancer.
If possible, consider removing alcohol from your diet or limit it to special occasions. Many women note an improvement in the majority of their symptoms when they do!
4. Prioritise Sleep
Insomnia is one of the most highly rated menopause challenges so, we understand that you might be saying ‘I want to sleep but I can’t!!’ and how frustrating it is. But, focusing on looking after the three steps mentioned above will be very supportive in getting some good quality sleep.
Some additional sleep tips include:
- Stopping caffeine after 1pm. Most people aren’t aware that the effects of caffeine can be active in your system for up to 7 hours after you finish having it. So, you can quickly see how your afternoon latte could be impacting your ability to get good quality sleep!
- Limit blue light exposure from your phone and laptop for at least 40 minutes before you go to bed.
- Supplement with magnesium. Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and is incredible for supporting good quality sleep. This specific blend of magnesium, MegaMag Calmeze has another ingredient called L-theanine in it which is very relaxing for the nervous system. It's an amazing product for sleep, anxiety and PMS - there’s a reason why it’s our best seller!
- CBD oil from the hemp plant is another incredible supplement to treat insomnia. It is also fantastic at relieving aches and pains in the body too as it supports the reduction of inflammation!
5. Move your Body!
Most women notice a change in their body composition during perimenopause that they are not happy about. The increase of body fat around the stomach area is very popular due to insulin resistance. One of the most effective ways at improving insulin sensitivity (i.e. increase your body’s ability to use carbohydrates for fuel) and losing body fat during menopause is to do strength based exercises. If this is something you have no experience with, working with a personal trainer to learn the key movements such as squats, lunges and deadlifts is the best place to start to ensure you are doing the exercises correctly and you do not injure yourself.
Walking is also a great, low impact way to improve blood sugar control and manage your weight, especially if you walk outside in nature in the morning as this will help to regular your circadian rhythm (our internal body clock) which will also have a positive impact on your sleep - win/win!
Some additional supplements that are very helpful for perimenopause and menopause:
- Mega Mag Perimeno Plus - sleep, hormone balance, energy
- Menopause Multinutrient - energy, hormone balance, skin, general health
- Osteoplex - for bone support
- Vitamin D+K - immunity, bone support
If you’re unsure exactly which supplements you need to support yourself, get a Personalised Supplement Plan here!