“Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. Think of it as the transition phase when our body starts to have certain symptoms such as irregular periods, joint pain, mood swings, hot flashes and altered sleep patterns, to name a few. It can start around 40 years of age and last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Dr. Joan Borysenko refers to this phase as the “midlife metamorphosis”, however it is up to us and our choices how well we come out of it.”
When a woman suspects she is already undergoing these changes, it is advised for her to visit a doctor and get a proper evaluation. This is because hormonal changes can also affect our thyroid and other endocrine glands.
In addition, it is important to improve our exercise routine, tweak our bedtime ritual and properly manage stress.
Food is, as always, an important aspect of our hormonal balance. Here are some of my top dietary recommendations if you feel you are in this transition:
- Eat cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Besides being fiber-rich, these vegetables contain an excellent phytonutrient known as DIM which aids estrogen balance. They are also rich in antioxidants and have anti-cancer properties. You can roast or steam them and also make great soups with them.
- Eat healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon and olive oil. Healthy fats are the building blocks of hormones. Drizzle olive oil over your salads or eat a few olives a day, eat nuts as snacks instead of processed chips, or make a nice salad dressing with avocado.
- Add sprouts such as broccoli and red clover to your meals. These tiny wonders are packed with sulfurs and have immune boosting properties. They also support breast health, something we should pay attention to during this time. Top your avocado toasts with them or add them to your wraps or salads.
- Boost your intake of superfoods such as flaxseed, maca, and berries. Superfoods contain powerful compounds to help us balance our hormones and to add anti-aging properties to our diet. They are low in calories and rich in nutrients: win, win! Add them to your yogurt, salads or smoothies.
- Eat quality protein every day. As estrogen declines, we start to lose muscle mass and in some cases experience diminished bone strength. Add eggs, meat, fish or legumes, but you may also include plenty of plant based protein, rich in vitamins and minerals as well. I also recommend adding a good collagen supplement.
- Limit intake of caffeine, sugar, processed foods and gluten. These impact our hormone balance negatively and you will find that our sleep, digestion and inflammation are affected by reducing or eliminating these altogether. Give it a try, drink one less cup of coffee a day and substitute it with a nice, soothing herbal tea. If you crave sweets, think of a way to substitute them with healthy options such as a piece of magnesium-rich chocolate or a fiber-rich date.
The uncertainty of the time frame can be overwhelming for some women but making these simple additions to our everyday meals can have a positive impact on our hormonal balance. In time, with consistency and persistence, the benefits will be evident.
Hang on, we are all in it together!