Food is medicine. We all know that saying and it especially rings true when women are approaching menopause. Your nutrition has a significant impact on your mind, body, heart, gut and overall health.
In this article, we share what we refer to as the ‘rockstars of nutrition’. These are the essentials of your diet and what your body needs through peri menopause, menopause and beyond. Make conscious choices about what you are putting into your body to support it everyday.
Why does your body’s needs change?
Let’s start off by sharing that menopause is not a medical condition. It’s a natural phase of a woman’s life. Similar to when you are in your teenage years and you experience puberty, there’s a shift in hormones and changes to your body.
Menopause is similar, it’s the next phase. Peri menopause is when your body is reaching the end of its reproductive years. Hormone levels begin to change and you’ll experience changes to your body in the years leading up to menopause. This normally occurs for most women in their 40s and can run through to early 50s.
Technically speaking, menopause itself is defined as one day – it’s the day when you have not had a period for 12 months. This is when you have officially reached menopause.
During peri menopause, you may begin to experience some of the common symptoms such as:
- Weight gain
- Skin changes
- Brain fog
- Sugar cravings
- Mood swings
These changes are brought on due to the decrease in estrogen and progesterone being produced by your reproductive organs. The more you educate yourself on what is happening to your body, the better placed you will be to minimise symptoms.
For more information on menopause symptoms, the known triggers and how to avoid them head over to our article Menopause Symptoms: What you need to know.
The importance of diet and nutrition
As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing essential nutrients and vitamins. The decrease in estrogen can often lead to cardiovascular and bone density issues. Blood sugar levels can spike which contributes to weight gain, or they can drop dramatically and cause mood swings, low energy and fatigue.
Many women enter peri menopause with already low or depleted levels of nutrients. If this is the case, your symptoms are likely to be exacerbated and weight gain will happen quickly. This is why it is important to understand how important your diet and nutritional needs are during peri menopause.
Avoid the weight gain, minimise the impact of insomnia, mood swings and keep stress and anxiety at bay simply through nutrition. Understanding the basics of what your body needs from a nutritional perspective is the key.
The Rockstars of Nutrition
Food and nutrition play a significant role in supporting your body to function every day. Providing it with the essential macro nutrients your body’s needs will support you during peri menopause and ensure you have a more positive menopause experience.
The rockstars of nutrition which should be on your plate at each meal include:
Protein benefits the body in many ways and is crucial to overall good health. Protein helps to ensure your body is getting adequate B12 levels which help with concentration and memory. It also helps to support your iron levels which can be impacted if you experience heavy periods. Protein also helps the growth and repair of cells and tissue, supports your immune system, boosts metabolism and reduces hunger.
Include the following types of protein in each of your daily meals:
- Lean meat
Healthy fats support your hormone production, promote satiety and lower inflammation. They are also essential for brain health, helping your body absorb much needed vitamins and minerals, produce body energy, support cell growth and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
The types of healthy fats you can incorporate into your daily meals include:
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
Carbohydrates fuel your body. They are an important energy source, help control blood sugar levels, keep your digestive system and heart healthy. Carbohydrates also assist to minimise headaches and improve your focus.
When we talk about carbohydrates we refer to good quality complex carbohydrates. The types you should include in your daily meals include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fresh, seasonal vegetables
- Sweet potato
- Whole grains
Aim to limit highly processed carbohydrates like cereal, wheat bread, pasta and sweet foods such as biscuits and cakes.
Some other important factors
Ensure you are maintaining your body’s hydration levels by drinking lots of water.
Benefits of hydration include:
- More energy
- Healthier skin
- Improved digestion
- Aids the removal of toxins from your body
- Helps with excretion of waste
Fibre is an essential nutrient that you will get from the vegetables on your plate. It assists in keeping your body healthy and bowel happy as it helps to eliminate waste and toxins from your body that you no longer need.
Generally you do not need to worry about palpitations, however, if you find they are getting worse, last a long time or are just worried about them, please speak to your trusted medical or wellness advisor.
You’ll have a boost of magnesium when you include leafy green vegetables into your daily habits. Magnesium calms the nervous system and helps your body respond to stress, which is often heightened during peri menopause.
When you focus on the rockstars of nutrition and incorporate these elements into your daily life, your liver will also reap the benefits. The liver is your body’s main detoxification pathway and will support hormone balance in peri menopause when you consume more vegetables and drink more water.
Minimise stress & anxiety
When your body is in a heightened sense of stress its natural response is to release cortisol, a hormone responsible for managing stress. If you are constantly stressed your body continues to release cortisol leading to elevated levels. This then negatively impacts glucose levels, will make you irritable, induce fatigue, headaches, increase digestive problems and promotes weight gain.
Minimise your stress and anxiety levels to avoid elevated levels of cortisol in your body. You can do this by incorporating mindful practices into your routine such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation or some gentle exercise.
If you’re experiencing anxiety and stress in peri menopause, take a look at our Anxiety & Stress Meal Support Plan. This seven-day meal plan has been designed to provide guidance on the types of foods that can support your emotional health in helping to relieve anxiety and stress.
While menopause can seem daunting it’s really nothing to be afraid of. Your peri menopause journey is as individual as you are. Make it a positive phase in your life. Reconnect with yourself and take back your power. It really is a wonderful time to rediscover yourself.
If you are struggling with peri menopause or just want to be empowered to have a positive experience, we encourage you to learn more about our Peri Menopause Power Program. We created this program to help women take control of this life phase and embrace it with all that it has to offer. This is your safe space to connect with YOU.
Peri Menopause Power Podcast
You may also like to listen to our Peri Menopause Power Podcast where we take you through different topics to empower you on your own peri menopause journey.