Updated: Jul 27, 2020
So many women who approach me about what I offer have identified that they are not flourishing and feel more anxious. They often comment about changes their bodies are making and I become part of their journey of understanding and experiencing the peri-menopause.
Menopause is a natural consequence of ageing. Menopause occurs when oestrogen levels fall and can be defined as the time when periods stop. The time leading up to the menopause is called peri-menopause and may come with symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, reduced libido, memory and mood changes. With the hormonal changes of menopause the food we fuel ourselves with can have a positive and profound impact on how we feel and function. Today I have invited Alex Williams, nutritionist and personal trainer from The Collective Wellness to give an overview of the main considerations:
HRT (hormone replacement therapy) may be prescribed to boost oestrogen levels. Lifestyle changes such as nutrition, movement and stress management may also be used to manage symptoms. Rather than changing your entire way of eating, menopausal
nutrition is all about small tweaks here and there to adapt to this stage of life.
As we age, protein turnover increases. Try to consume decent protein sources at least twice a day to help ensure the broken-down proteins are replaced. Good sources of protein include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, lentils and pulses. For vegetarian proteins not all proteins are equal, they are made of a chain. so eat a good variety and include sources such as buckwheat and quinoa.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Post-menopausal women lose about 1% of bone mass each year therefore peri-menopause is the last chance to lay down bone mass. The easiest way to boost our calcium to increase bone mass is with dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk. Non-dairy sources include bony fish, cooked leafy greens, beans and tofu. Also, adequate vitamin D consumption is necessary to
support bone health; during the winter months (end of September to the start of March) supplement with 10-25ug of vitamin D. Vitamin D and calcium prevent osteoporosis, the thinning of the bones which increases the risk of breakage.
A reduction is oestrogen is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Try to increase the amount of unsaturated fat in the diet compared to saturated fat by adding avocado, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and oily fish. It is important to note that cheese, yoghurt and whole milk don't increase the risk of heart disease despite being sources of saturated fat.
Phytoestrogens are plant oestrogen's and may alleviate some menopausal symptoms. Although the evidence for phytoestrogens efficacy is mixed. Good sources include soy products and chickpeas so try adding some tofu (protein-rich) or hummus (fibre-rich) into your diet.
It may be a good idea to consider reducing spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and smoking if you
struggle with night sweats and hot flushes. However, is very individual so be curious and
experiment to see if limiting these potential triggers helps.
Follow Alex Williams @thecollectivewellness
Alex is a Registered Nutritionist to be and a Certified Personal Trainer. She runs The Collective
Wellness which is a weight inclusive, non-diet space with the aim to improve your relationship with your body, whilst finding joy in food and movement again. Alex offers 1-2-1 Food & Movement Coaching and health-first personal training.
Want to read more? See related post Menopause and Diet