Before menopause, which marks the end of the reproductive years, women experience perimenopause. It usually starts in the 40s, but in some women it can start as early as the late 30s. Irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, sleep problems and reduced fertility may occur. It may surprise you, but there are certain foods for perimenopause that can help manage the symptoms of perimenopause.
What Foods Are Good for Perimenopause?
It’s good to eat healthy, but consider eating specific foods if you’re experiencing perimenopause.
Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It also has phytoestrogenic properties, which can help moderate hormonal imbalances, Dr. Ushakiran Sisodia, registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Specialty Hospital, Mumbai, to Health Shots. The omega-3 fatty acids support cardiovascular health, which is crucial during perimenopause, when cardiovascular disease risks can increase.
2. Soy products
Food products such as soy chunks and soy milk contain many isoflavones. So they can help control hormonal fluctuations, potentially providing relief from symptoms such as hot flashes. They can also support bone health, which is crucial during this period of estrogen decline.
3. Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds are also a rich source of phytoestrogens and comparable to flaxseed and soy. The phytoestrogens in fenugreek can help balance hormones, says the expert.
4. Leafy greens
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are packed with calcium, magnesium and vitamin K and are essential for bone health. Magnesium also helps improve mood and sleep – the two aspects that can be disrupted during perimenopause.
5. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are high in calcium, magnesium and phytoestrogens, which not only promote bone health but can also help alleviate some of the hormonal imbalances experienced during perimenopause.
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You can also use other superfoods such as millet and whole wheat, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas.
Foods to avoid during perimenopause
During perimenopause, the body’s hormonal shifts can further worsen certain symptoms. So stay away from the foods that can worsen these shifts. Here’s what to avoid:
Caffeine, found in coffee, tea and certain soft drinks, can give you energy in the morning. But it can also cause hot flashes, interrupt sleep patterns and worsen the symptoms of insomnia, which many perimenopausal women experience, says Dr. Sisodia.
If you drink alcohol after a long day at work, quit the habit. It can make hot flashes and night sweats even worse.
3. Spicy food
Spicy food makes the taste buds happy, but can cause hot flashes in some women.
4. Foods with a high sugar content
Foods high in sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which can then lead to an energy crash. This fluctuation can accentuate mood swings during perimenopause, the expert says.
5. Processed foods
Highly processed foods are usually packed with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. These can worsen perimenopausal symptoms and contribute to weight gain, which is a common problem during this phase.
6. Saturated fats
Foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat and certain dairy products, can raise cholesterol levels. This increase could be problematic because women’s risk for heart disease increases during and after menopause, the expert said.
A balanced diet can alleviate some perimenopausal symptoms, but it is critical to recognize that the effects of diet on women can vary. So you can consult a gynecologist or nutritionist to tailor the nutritional choices to your needs.