The menopause is a series of major hormonal changes which usually occur between the ages of 45 and 55. Whilst this is a natural part of female ageing, the menopause can cause a whole host of symptoms including hot flushes, weight gain and more. Our diet can play a huge part in the severity of these, and there are certain nutrients which are essential for everyday hormone health. Here’s our guide to the best menopause supplements.
What Is The Menopause?
Menopause, peri-menopause and post-menopause are stages in a woman’s life when her monthly period stops. This is the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
Peri-menopause is the first stage in this process and can start eight to 10 years before menopause. Think of it as the menopause transition. During this time, sex hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone can fluctuate significantly. Women typically start to experience it in their 40s – and often the most obvious signs are that your periods start to be erratic- though for some it can even start in their 30s.
The peri-menopause is followed by the menopause, with symptoms (1) including:
- Changes to the frequency of your periods (with them eventually stopping altogether)
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Reduced sex drive
- Joint pain
- Heart palpitations
Can Nutritional Changes Impact The Menopause?
In short, yes. The severity of menopausal symptoms is partly determined by cortisol, the stress hormone. Symptoms often get worse when cortisol is high.
As well as directly putting sugar into the blood (for your fight or flight response), cortisol can also prevent insulin from doing its job of transporting glucose into cells. Excess glucose is converted to fat, therefore insulin is known as the ‘fat-storing’ hormone.
There are some simple ways you can improve your symptoms:
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable is critical during peri- menopause and menopause. Poor glucose control places a huge stress on the body. Healthy post-menopausal women and menopausal women can experience more hot flushes when their blood glucose falls between meals. To help balance your blood sugar levels:
- Limit refined carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol
- Eat more vegetables, protein and healthy fats
- Limit snacking, stick to 2 or 3 meals a day
- Try overnight fasting
Balancing your stress hormones is essential to maintaining good blood sugar balance. You can do this by:
- Making self care and stress management a non-negotiable priority on your to do list
- Avoiding potential food stressors, such as processed foods, sugar, alcohol, vegetable oils
- Identify food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy and eggs
The Best Menopause Supplements
Alongside diet and lifestyle changes, supplements can be a great way to alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
As we age, our bones can weaken and become porous (a condition known as osteoporosis,) making fractures more likely. Calcium loss accelerates as oestrogen declines, so it’s important to pay particular attention after you enter peri-menopause.
There are lots of dietary and lifestyle changes that support healthy bones, so incorporate these if you aren’t already:
- At least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise a day (running, walking, resistance training, dancing)
- A diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins
- No smoking
- Get enough sleep