Perimenopause: How Your Diet Can Help
Menopause is deemed official when you haven’t menstruated for at least a year, but in the years leading up to this, there are a ton of changes happening in your body. These are triggered by hormonal changes, but there’s a lot you can do to try to negate the effects.
What you eat during perimenopause can be super important for menopause symptoms. According to studies, some menopause symptoms can potentially be reduced by eating certain foods — and could be made worse by not having certain foods in your diet.
Let’s talk about the links between perimenopause and diet:
Dairy Products and Menopause
According to studies, dairy products can help protect against the increased risk of bone fractures that can happen after menopause. Vitamin D and vitamin K are super important for bone health, and they’re readily available in dairy products.
In a study of 750 postmenopausal women, eating dairy was a factor in having higher bone density. Women who didn’t eat much dairy tended to have lower bone density.
Dairy can also help improve sleep. Insomnia is a super common menopause symptom but research has indicated that dairy can promote better sleep. According to one study, glycine-rich foods can encourage deeper sleep for menopausal women. Glycine is an amino acid that’s commonly found in dairy.
There’s also some evidence that eating dairy may help prevent early menopause that occurs before you hit 45. In one study, consuming higher levels of calcium and vitamin D reduced the risk of early menopause by 17%.
Takeaway: Making sure your diet contains plenty of dairy products can help protect against the health effects associated with menopause and may even delay its onset.
**Note: Dairy can be an inflammatory trigger for some people and should be avoided in that case.
Protein and Menopause
Eating plenty of protein can help counteract loss of bone strength and muscle mass — both of which can be more likely after menopause. In one study, a higher protein intake reduced the risk of hip fractures.
Takeaway: You can be more likely to experience fractures and broken bones after menopause, mostly as a result of lower bone density. Making sure protein is a key part of your diet during perimenopause can reduce this risk and help improve bone health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Menopause
Healthy fats can help improve some menopause symptoms — especially omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 supplements can potentially minimize hot flashes and night sweats, according to some studies. Other studies have been less conclusive but it’s worth experimenting, especially if your diet is lacking in omega-3s.
Whole Grains and Menopause
Whole grains can reduce your risk factor for heart disease, which is slightly higher after menopause. Eating at least 2 servings of whole grains reduced the risk of heart disease by up to 30% compared to eating a diet that’s super high in refined carbs.
In a study of over 11,000 postmenopausal women, eating 4.7g of whole-grain fiber per 2000 calories consumed reduced the risk of early death by 17% compared to only eating 1.3g per 2000 calories consumed.
Takeaway: Eating a good amount of whole grains can help keep your heart healthy as you move through menopause — and beyond it. This is super important given that heart disease can be a bigger problem post-menopause. Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are perfect choices for this.
Fruits and Vegetables and Menopause
Eating plenty of fruits and veggies is super crucial at any stage of life but even more so as you approach menopause.
In a study of more than 17,000 postmenopausal women, eating fruits, veggies, and soy led to a 19% decrease in hot flashes compared to the control group.
Broccoli is one veggie you’ll definitely want to eat plenty of. It can reduce levels of a type of estrogen that may be a factor in breast cancer, while also increasing levels of a type of estrogen that could protect against breast cancer. The end result? You could be a whole heap more likely to negate the higher risk of breast cancer that can occur after menopause.
What to Avoid in Perimenopause
So now you know which foods can potentially be super effective during perimenopause, let’s talk briefly about the ones that are best avoided.
● Avoiding added sugars and processed foods can keep blood sugar levels in check. Along with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, high blood sugar can be a culprit for hot flashes.
● Alcohol and caffeine can be super common triggers for hot flashes and can make them more severe.
● Spicy foods can also worsen hot flashes. A ton of women find that hot flashes are more intense and frequent after eating something spicy.