by WV Marshall
Sure, perimenopause is a natural process, and while we can’t stop Mother Nature, we can do a little alteration here and there so we participate in life rather than reacting to the hormonal ping-pong match being waged inside our bodies.
Take diet and lifestyle habits, for example. What we eat and what we do to stay active can help us live a happy, healthy life through perimenopause and beyond.
While diet and lifestyle may not be a panacea for all that troubles us, the choices we make concerning how/what we eat and how we choose to live can greatly affect our quality of life, healthline.com reported recently.
Honing in on the right foods and making the right choices can help us be better prepared health-wise as we navigate through perimenopause and the years that follow. Who knows, we could even find some respite from some of the more uncomfortable symptoms perimenopause brings.
**First, take stock of your overall lifestyle. **
Smoke? Now is a great time to quit. Sedentary? Consider starting an exercise regimen (check with your healthcare provider first, please).
**Smoking cessation and taking up exercise can do your body a world of good. **
Walking is a great form of exercise, so consider a brisk walk during your lunch, Healthline.com suggests.
Do some simple lunges while watching television. These are baby steps, sure, but these steps are critical to long-term success.
Overweight and perimenopausal? Moving more may help you see some pounds drop more quickly than focusing on dietary changes along.
Remember that line “Dance like no one is watching”? Well, dance like no one is watching to get up and moving.
Speaking of nutrition … Healthline.com offers some suggestions about what you should add: protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and calcium. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are also good choices.
When it comes to healthy eating, it’s helpful to look at all the foods you should be eating versus the few foods that lack nutritional value. And don’t forget fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
Protein The changes – for example, muscle mass decrease – your body undergoes during perimenopause means it could use a bit more of certain nutrients. So up your daily protein intake, San Francisco-based dietitian Sonya Angelone, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., told Healthline.com.
Protein can help maintain muscle mass, regulate appetite and blood sugar levels, and possibly help balance hormone levels.
Angelone recommends distributing protein intake out over three meals and a snack. And, lucky for us, protein comes in all shapes. Peanut butter, salmon, chicken, beans, nuts, eggs, lentils and yogurt are all great protein choices.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with decreased inflammation and improved moods. Omega-3s also have been tied to decreased depression, something many women experience during perimenopause.
Angelone recommended including two 4-ounce servings of fish per week.
Healthline.com also suggested discussing with your healthcare provider about taking fish oil supplements. Flaxseed oil is another option to counter mood swings and irritability.
Fiber Because fiber helps you feel full longer, it can help curb cravings – making it another go-to nutrient during perimenopause. Weight-loss efforts can be particularly difficult as you age and your metabolism slows down.
Fiber has also been shown to decrease your risk of certain diseases of aging, including heart disease, stroke and cancer, Angelone told Healthline.com.
You should try to consume at least 21 grams of fiber daily, so eat your fruits and veggies. Whole grains and beans are also good source.
Calcium The risk of osteoporosis increases as you age, so to maintain good bone health, boost your calcium intake to 1,200 milligrams daily. Again, though, check with your healthcare provider for recommendations.
The minuses Just as you want to add certain items to your diet, so, too, you want to limit certain things in your diet such as saturated fats, highly refined carbohydrates and caffeine. **Note the word is “limit,” not “eliminate.” **
In general, saturated fats from meat and dairy products increase the risk for heart disease, so opt for plant-based fats when you can.
Limiting highly refined carbs –white breads, pasta, and baked goods – to avoid spikes in blood sugar and cravings. Think substitution, not elimination. For example, substitute whole grain brown rice for white rice.
Since sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can amplify hormone symptoms, Angelone says to limit these whenever possible.
Even with these changes in diet and lifestyle, you still may be affected by symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, Healthline.com noted, reiterating that these alterations in living and eating are not a be-all, end-all remedy.
But – and this is noteworthy – eating well and being active can help make transitioning to the perimenopausal phase of your life as smooth as possible.