During perimenopause and menopause, it is important to pay attention to your diet to maintain hormonal balance and improve overall health.
Hormonal imbalances can have a significant impact on various bodily functions, so it is crucial to take steps to keep them in check.
There are over 200 hormones in the body. Oestrogen, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin and thyroid hormones are the most commonly known. These are linked closely to metabolism, fertility and mood.
Oestrogen, progesterone, insulin and testosterone are the major hormones that fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause. These fluctuations can lead to a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain and sleep disturbances.
One way to support hormonal balance is by avoiding excessive sugar consumption. Consuming too much sugar can increase insulin levels, which can in turn lead to inflammation and worsen symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Instead, opt for a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Vegetables are rich in phytonutrients, which are plant compounds that have been shown to have positive effects on hormonal balance. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are particularly beneficial as they contain compounds that can help regulate oestrogen levels.
Whether you’re suffering from hot flashes, insomnia, irritability or any other combination of troubling symptoms, what you put in your mouth can make a big difference to how you experience symptoms.
Avocados, nuts, seeds and fish are full of omega-3s and other fats that help reduce inflammation in the body. Aiming for 30 to 40 grams per day, especially if you’re having hot flashes and night sweats caused by hormone imbalance, is recommended.
Several studies link the heart-healthy fats in fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, to improved mood and brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep blood pressure levels in check.
Healthy blood pressure can help control hot flashes. Fatty fish like salmon are among the few food sources of vitamin D, a key nutrient for mood levels and bone health.
To help your body hang on to muscle, eat plenty of high-protein foods, such as fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds.
These tiny seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are high in lignans, which have oestrogen-like properties and can help balance hormone levels.
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are not only sweet and satisfying, but also rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress and support overall hormone balance.
Foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi contain beneficial probiotics that support gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for hormone regulation and can help alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
The decline in oestrogen levels during menopause can increase women’s risk of fractures. Dairy products, such as milk, yoghourt and cheese, contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins D and K — all of which are essential for bone health.
What foods to avoid
Processed carbs and sugar
One effect of getting older is that we become less tolerant of sugar in all its forms. This means that sugar does not support hormone balance during perimenopause and menopause.
Simple carbohydrates like table sugar, baked goods, white bread, pasta and packaged foods cause the most imbalance when it comes to blood sugar regulation.
Caffeine and alcohol
Studies have shown that caffeine and alcohol can trigger hot flashes in women going through menopause and spicy foods along with high-salted food.