What You Can Do Now To Prepare For The Menopause
What You Can Do Now To Prepare For The Menopause

What You Can Do Now To Prepare For The Menopause

Awareness of perimenopause – the transition from our reproductive years to the menopause – is growing, but just as we learn more about its symptoms, experts also want us to know there are lifestyle changes we can all make to guard against them, even in our 30s. Here’s what the pros recommend…
By Tor West

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Don’t Count Calories

“Some of the most common mistakes women in their late 30s and 40s make include skipping meals or restricting calories throughout the day and then overeating at night; eating salad and soup for lunch, which will never fill you up; and grazing throughout the day rather than eating substantial, filling meals, then wondering why you still can’t lose weight despite ‘barely eating anything’. Your body needs quality nutrients and all three macros – protein, carbs and fat – to thrive, especially at this stage in life. Protein is needed to manage hunger, prevent cravings, build muscle and stabilise blood sugar, while carbs are needed for energy and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, and fats are the building blocks for your hormones. Prioritise protein, be sure to include some healthy fats and opt for good-quality, unrefined carbs in each meal and you can’t go wrong.” – Emma Bardwell, registered nutritionist & founder of The M Collective

Prioritise Self-Care

“When we are stressed, we produce more cortisol, which the body already produces more of as we age. Chronically high levels of cortisol can raise blood sugar and insulin resistance and promote weight gain. It can also suppress our immune system, and reduce bone and collagen formation, all of which can wreak havoc on a perimenopausal body. Anything that can help with stress management is a positive thing. The most important thing is to be kind to your yourself and understand that everyone deserves rest. Many perimenopausal women are massively overburdened with work and family so they often come last on the list of priorities. Putting your own needs first is the most important form of self-care.” – Dr Sarah Spencer, GP & aesthetic physician

Do Your Research

“When it comes to the menopause, knowledge is power. Ask your mother when she became menopausal and first started noticing changes – this is often a great indicator as to when your menopause journey will begin. Also find out if there is a history of osteoporosis in your family – if there is, consider booking a private bone scan. If you are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, don’t ignore them. Find a doctor with an interest in menopause and women’s health, and track your symptoms in the weeks before your appointment. Ask them for a blood test which will give you information about your hormones and identify any vitamin and mineral deficiencies.” – Dr Charlotte Gribbin, women’s health expert at Dr David Jack

Keep Blood Sugar Balanced

“Oestrogen and progesterone affect how cells respond to insulin – the hormone that moves sugar from our blood to our cells – so changes in these hormones can cause fluctuations in blood sugar. Disturbed sleep, stress and changes in the gut microbiome as we age can also impact blood sugar. This isn’t to say you should avoid sugar entirely; just be mindful and think about having plenty of protein at every meal, avoid snacking between meals, and reduce sugary foods and refined carbs. Intermittent fasting can also help with blood sugar control if you aren’t stressed, fatigued or have thyroid issues.” – Lucy Miller, nutritional therapist 

Know The Facts

“The conversation around perimenopause and menopause is shifting, but many myths persist. The main one is that you can’t get pregnant during perimenopause. In fact, because your periods tend to become irregular at this time, it can be tricky to predict if and when ovulation has occurred during any given cycle. Pregnancy is still possible (although less likely) until 12 months after your last period.” – Charlotte

Invest In A Good Multivitamin

“If your hormones are out of balance, they can cause a cascade of issues, such as weight gain, poor skin, hair loss, low mood and reduced energy, as well as increased PMS and menopause symptoms. Taking a good multivitamin will ensure you fill any micronutrient gaps, especially as certain vitamins and minerals are needed to produce, metabolise and detoxify hormones. I recommend Cytoplan Women’s Wholefood Multivitamin.” – Lucy 

PRIORITISE PROTEIN, be sure to include HEALTHY FATS and opt for GOOD-QUALITY, UNREFINED CARBS in each meal and you can’t go wrong.

Eat More Oily Fish

“Getting the right fats in your diet is important. Medium-chain fatty acids are found in coconut oil and butter, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, mackerel, sardines and herring. They are vital for the production and balance of hormones; as we can’t make them ourselves, make sure you are eating lots of oily fish – and if you don’t like it, supplement with Bare Biology Rise & Shine.” – Lucy

Start Taking Vitamin B

“A vitamin B complex that contains all eight B vitamins can be helpful for women who are suffering from low energy, especially if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. B vitamins can also be helpful for PMS-type symptoms as they aid hormone synthesis and are a vital part of the body’s energy production process. Alcohol can also increase our need for certain B vitamins, so if you rely on a glass of wine in the evening to unwind, chances are you could do with increasing your vitamin B.” – Emma

Support Gut Health

“We not only produce hormones in the gut, but it’s also where we detoxify our hormones. Include lots of prebiotic and probiotic foods such as asparagus, garlic, leeks, oats, miso, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as plenty of cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower – as they help with the detoxification of oestrogen. Green leafy vegetables are also packed with calcium, which we need for healthy bones, as well as magnesium, which aids the absorption of calcium.” – Lucy

Cut Back On Processed Food

“Highly processed foods – think sweets, cakes, biscuits, cereal and oven chips – lack the nutrients required for optimal health. They can trigger inflammation in the body and contribute to weight gain, cravings and energy slumps. Also be wary of artificial sweeteners, as the body can react to artificial sweetener in almost the same way as it does to sugar, except that it contains more chemicals that affect the gut and blood sugar. Buy organic food where possible to reduce your exposure to chemicals that disrupt hormones, and when it comes to red meat, only eat grass-fed beef and organ meat like liver. Red meat can cause inflammation. Finally, avoid food wrapped in plastic – which can interfere with hormones – and avoid microwaving or heating food in plastic containers, as the plastic contains toxic chemicals that can leak into food.” – Lucy

Start Boxing

“Boxing is a great cardio activity that can improve heart health and lower your risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown boxing is linked to increased bone density in menopausal women and improved symptoms. Plus, boxing can help you feel confident and strong. The benefits of yoga are also endless – it has a brilliant effect on your body, mind and menopause symptoms. It can help prevent memory loss and aid brain function, boost metabolic rate, protect against osteoporosis and ease anxiety and depression.” – Dr Rebeccah Tomlinson, GP & menopause specialist at Health & Her 

If your HORMONES ARE OUT OF BALANCE, they can cause a cascade of issues, such as WEIGHT GAIN, POOR SKIN, HAIR LOSS and LOW MOOD.

Add Phytoestrogens To Your Diet

“Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plants that can mimic your body’s own oestrogen. They can modulate oestrogen, whether you are oestrogen dominant or oestrogen deficient and can have a positive effect on hot flushes and other menopause symptoms. There are two types of phytoestrogens: isoflavones and lignans. Isoflavones are found in soy products and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans, alfalfa) while lignans are found in flaxseed, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, barley and rice. Soy foods tend to be highly processed in the western world. Look out for organic unprocessed forms of soy, such as edamame beans, miso and organic tempeh and tofu.” – Lucy

Use Magnesium To Aid Sleep

“A magnesium supplement is a fantastic way to support sleep and restless legs. Look for magnesium glycinate as it’s well absorbed and proven to aid deep sleep – aim for 350mg before bed. If you’re one of the many perimenopausal women with constipation, try magnesium citrate instead.” – Emma

Load Up On Superfoods

“Flaxseeds are rich in fibre, omega-3s and phytoestrogens to keep your bowels moving, control inflammation and balance oestrogen; cinnamon keeps blood sugar stable and boosts metabolism by stimulating digestive enzymes; and psyllium husk is an excellent source of fibre for the gut that improves glucose levels and blood pressure. Swap coffee for green tea, which boosts metabolism, inhibits fat absorption and contains powerful antioxidants that prevent obesity.” – Jenya Di Pierro, herbal medicine practitioner & founder of Cloud Twelve

Stay Hydrated

“Oestrogen plays an important role in controlling body fluid balance. As oestrogen levels decrease, you may become less sensitive to thirst, which can increase your risk of dehydration. To make sure you stay hydrated, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake and eat more hydrating foods, such as broths, soups, celery, cucumber and watermelon. Pay attention to the quality of your water, too, and consider a high-quality water filter for home use.” – Jenya 

Book A Longer GP Appointment

“When booking an appointment, ask if there is a GP or nurse that specialises in women’s health, and ask for a double appointment. NHS doctors’ time can often be very pressed and talking about menopause, HRT and the risks and benefits can take a long time. Even talking at top speed about a subject I know inside out still takes me at least 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to suggest that your symptoms could be menopause related – a good doctor should listen to a patient’s ideas and concerns. Remember, there are oestrogen receptors all over your body, which is why the symptoms of perimenopause can be varied, from chest tightness and palpitations to headaches and anxiety.” – Sarah

Ultimately, Do What You Can

“Perimenopause is a critical window in which smaller health problems could magnify and, if not addressed, develop into more chronic issues later in life. It is also why perimenopause is the most important time in the life of a woman to focus on her health and make the changes that will pay huge dividends in later life. It’s a well-known fact that women in indigenous cultures don’t experience uncomfortable symptoms of menopause – we can learn from their lifestyle by incorporating daily physical activity, following a lifestyle that supports the circadian rhythm, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins. Do what you can to get on top of chronic stress, poor diet, lack of rest and sleep, toxic overload, infections and a lack of exercise – your body will thank you in the long run.” – Jenya 

For more information, visit EmmaBardwell.com and The M Collective, SamClinic.co.uk, DrDavidJack.com, LucyMillerNutrition.com, HealthAndHer.com & CloudTwelve.co.uk. To book a consultation with Jenya at Cloud Twelve’s Wellness Club, email wellness@cloudtwelve.co.uk

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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