There are many things in life that are inevitable, and if you're a woman, menopause is one of them (lucky us). But what always amazed me, even in my younger years as a nutritionist, was how differently many women went through menopause.
Yes, genetics does play a role here, and since my mom started perimenopause at 42 years old, I have carefully studied anything and everything that could help me and my clients get through this transition in the easiest way possible.
Below, you will find the top 3 things I have found that have helped many of my clients experience a profound improvement in menopause side effects like hot flashes, irritability, sleep disturbances, and menopausal weight gain.
But first, I want to start with a "bonus" 2 tips. I didn't include these in my top 3 because they should already be a given when we discuss following a healthy eating plan that will nourish your body and help you maintain a healthy weight as you age.
Bonus Tip #1 -> Ditch the sugar. I know, I'm a broken record here... LOL. But sugar creates such havoc in your body and completely disrupts your hormone levels. Eating processed sugar till cause your own blood sugar to be unbalanced, which will then lead to a myriad of hormonal imbalances in your body. The Sugar and Sweeteners chapter of the Food Meets Faith Manual goes into great detail about the harmful side effects of sugar.
Bonus Tip #2 -> Drink your water. I know this is another one that is no secret, but it's truly amazing how much better your body can handle hormonal changes when it is properly hydrated. Drinking water will also help your body more quickly release any weight gain brought on by menopause, which is most women's biggest complaint.
Now, those 2 alone could be a complete game changer for many women, but here are 3 more proven tips to keep those menopause side effects at bay.
Menopause Helper #1 -> Move your body. Women begin to lose a significant amount of muscle mass in their bodies as they age and enter into menopause. They often complain of sagging skin and increased weight gain, especially around the middle and lower body. One of the best ways to combat this weight gain and loss of muscle mass is through movement. If you haven't already established a good exercise routine that is best for you and your current lifestyle, I highly encourage you to do so. There's no need to jump right into bootcamp class if you're just starting out. Begin with something special, like walking, and you will be amazed at how quickly your body will respond. I truly believe walking is one of the most underappreciated and underrated exercises. People don't think it will do very much, but I can assure you from personal experience, it can do wonders for your weight loss goals, body tone, and overall health.
Menopause Helper #2 -> Lower your caffeine intake. Ladies, the unfortunate truth is our hubbies, boyfriends, dads, and brothers can get away with so much more than we can. That's just how God made us, and we'll have to trust His infinite wisdom here. So, your husband may chug several cups of coffee each day with no side effects, but we really can't do the same. Too much caffeine can affect your adrenal glands, which are small glands in your body that produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, and your response to stress. As you can imagine, if these 2 little adrenals are compromised, your metabolic function and hormonal balance will be compromised as well. If you find that your menopausal symptoms are quite severe, it may be time to take a break from your morning cup of joe. Even just a few months without caffeine can give your adrenal glands the rest they need to reset some of those essential hormones.
Menopause Helper #3 -> Increase your Omega-3 intake. A recent study in the UK found that a diet rich in oily fish has a significant impact on females' hormones and can even delay the onset of menopause altogether. The study, carried out over 4 years on more than 14,000 women, found that those eating a daily portion of sardines or salmon experienced menopause up to 3 years later than the average age. Wow! That makes perfect sense because Omega-3s are essential fatty acids and the building blocks of hormones, so your body needs them to produce those vital hormones your female body needs. These critical fatty acids also play a major role in hormone transport and your body's ability to use the hormones it produces.
For a long list of reasons, more than just how Omega-3s may affect my eventual perimenopause and menopause, I have been taking an Omega-3 supplement and including fatty fish into my eating plan for over 10 years.
With a benefits list that includes...
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reduces high triglyceride levels
- Assists in balancing blood sugar
- Reduces the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
- Assists in hormone production
- Nourishes hair and skin
- Assists in metabolism support
- Improves eye health
It is one of the most frequent supplement recommendations I make to almost everyone (I even have my children take an Omega-3 supplement daily).
Your eating plan will always be what creates the most important foundation for your health, but if you find yourself struggling with the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, including an Omega-3 supplement each day may give you the extra relief you've been looking for.