Your diet can play a huge role in how you feel and function not just through perimenopause but your whole life.
Making healthier food choices will support your body to its best ability as well as helping you feel more energised and satiated.
The number one nutrient to support your body throughout this in protein. In my experience
women don't consume enough of it unless they are in the fitness world and it's so important.
Perimenopause is a time when your body is going through numerous changes. Because of those changes, your body could use a little bit more of certain nutrients. For example, your muscle mass starts to decrease during perimenopause. So you’ll want to up your daily intake of protein,. Protein can assist in maintaining muscle mass. More muscle means an increased metabolism.
With fluctuating hormones, balance is key. Protein can also help by regulating appetite and blood sugar levels keeping the hunger hormone ghrelin at bay.
To get maximum benefits, spread your protein intake at imeal times throughout the day in at least 20g servings to promote muscle protein synthesis. Instead of plain toast, top it with some peanut butter. Add baked salmon or chicken to a salad for a protein boost at lunch. Make your own nut mix, with your flavor of spices, for a perfect anytime snack. Eggs, lentils, and yogurt are other great high-protein choices.
Dinner can be a protein source of choice be it fish, meat ,eggs or a vegan source like tofu maybe made into taco's or baked with a bowl full of veggies and rice or potatoes.
If you find this a struggle consider a good quality protein powder either whey or vegan and add to porridge oats, yoghurt and smoothies. Most protein supplements are around 22-25g per serving so it goes a long way towards your protein goal. Just try to opt for a fairly clean version without a million and one ingredients.
Aim for at least 1.4g of protein per KG of bodyweight
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with decreased inflammation, as well as improved moods. Omega-3s have also been linked to decreased depression, which is something many women experience during perimenopause.
Consume two servings of fish per week. You can also take fish oil supplements or a vegan omega-3 supplement made from algae. Another option is adding flaxseed oil into your diet to combat mood swings and irritability.
Fiber is another go-to during perimenopause. It helps keep you feeling full longer, which can curb cravings. This will go a long way toward weight-loss efforts, which can be especially tough as you age and your metabolism slows a little.
Fibre helps to clear out excess estrogen from the body so an absolute must especially at this sensitive time.
You should aim for at least 21 grams of fiber each day or 15g per 1000kcal that you consume. Fruits and vegetables are a great place to find fiber especially the skins. Whole grains and beans are also good source.
Carbs are not to be feared but choosing a more complex version will hold you in good stead by supporting your hunger levels and much needed fiber, vitamins and minerals
Eat the rainbow and vary your fruit and veg regularly your microbiome will thank you for it and in return support you.
Complex carbs also include grains like quinoa, rice, oats, and other wholegrains. A good portion size is a cupped handful and unlimited non-starchy carbs like salad items, broccoli, green beans and leafy greans.
Fat is essential for the healthy function of our bodies, they are required for our metabolism, absorption of nutrients and fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and cardiovascular health. They help to satisfy hunger and certain fats have been shown to help alleviate depression.
However some fats are not optimal for your health, these are trans fats. Artificial trans fats are man made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to turn them into solids. They are cheap to produce and have been shown to increase your LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol levels which puts us at increased risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. These fats can be found in margerines, frozen pizzas, cookies and fast foods to name a few.
Fat falls into three categories
Saturated- Butter and animal fats
Polyunsaturated- Seeds and fish
Monounsaturated- Nuts and avocado
A variety of these fat choices should be added into your daily meals aiming for whole food sources.
Supporting your gut
A healthy gut really is the key to health and optimal bodily and cognitive function
Make sure you support your gut with plent of pro and prebiotic foods
Probiotic foods contain healthy bacteria whilst prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria in order for it to colonise and crowd out the bad bacteria.
Probiotic food choices such as kimchi, kombucha, pickles, kefir, natural yoghurt, sauerkraut and miso are all good options
Prebiotic food choices such as apples, artichokes, garlic, onions, asparagus, green bananas, cocoa and flaxseed.
You can also supplement with a good quality probiotic supplement.
Most people don't drink enough water. When you are dehydrated by as little as 1% your cognitive function declines.
Water is vital for many bodily functions including performance, transporting nutrients around the body, maintaining body tempurature and body composition.
You may also reach for a snack when you may actually be dehydrated so it's great for keeping you satiated.
For a guide of how much water you need Ideally aim for your body weight in KG multiplied by 0.033 for example a 60KG individual shoukd aim for 2 litres of water a day or half your body weight in ounces (a 140lb woman should aim for 70 ounces a day)
These can also include herbal and fruity teas
Electrolytes are also great for rehydration and supporting metabolic function and the conversion of ATP in our body (or bodies energy currency) I love coconut water or adding a few grains of sea salt to my water.
I personally love a cocktail at the weekend but I do limit it to one. Many women notice that their tolerance of alcohol decreases and the effects the following day and/or by causing a bad nights sleep just aren't worth it.
Studies show that alchohol can lead to increased menopause symptoms like hot flashes, depression, anxiety, insomnia and weight gain.
I'm not saying to cut it out completely just be mindful but consider cutting it out completely if you notice an increase in symptoms at least for a while.
So thats my line up of the best nutrients to help support you through this time
In the next episode I'll be taking a look at supplements and lifestyle changes to help you through your transition.
Coach Tula xx