Before menopause, which marks the end of the reproductive years, women experience perimenopause. It usually starts in the 40s, but it can begin as early as the late 30s for some women. There can be irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, difficulty in sleeping and decreased fertility. It might surprise you, but there are certain foods for perimenopause to help to manage symptoms of perimenopause.
What foods are good for perimenopause?
It’s good to eat healthy, but consider including specific foods if you are experiencing perimenopause.
Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It also has phytoestrogenic properties, which can help in moderating hormonal imbalances, Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, Registered Dietician and Clinical Nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai tells Health Shots. The omega-3 fatty acids support cardiovascular health, which is crucial during perimenopause when heart disease risks can elevate.
2. Soy products
Food items such as soya chunks and soya milk are high in isoflavones. So, they can help to manage hormonal fluctuations, potentially providing relief from symptoms like hot flashes. They can also support bone health, crucial during this period of estrogen decline.
3. Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seed is also a rich source of phytoestrogens and similar to flaxseeds and soy. The phytoestrogens in fenugreek can assist in balancing hormones, says the expert.
4. Leafy greens
Packed with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, leafy green vegetables like spinach are essential for bone health. Magnesium also aids in improving mood and sleep — the two aspects that can be disrupted during perimenopause.
5. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are dense in calcium, magnesium, and phytoestrogens, which apart from aiding bone health can help to alleviate some of the hormonal imbalances experienced during perimenopause.
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You can also incorporate other superfoods such as millets and whole wheat, pulses like lentils and chickpeas.
Foods to avoid during perimenopause
During perimenopause, the body’s hormonal shifts can further intensify certain symptoms. So, stay away from the foods that might aggravate these shifts. Here’s what to avoid:
Found in coffee, tea and certain soft drinks, caffeine can give you energy in the morning. But it can also trigger hot flashes, interrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate insomnia symptoms, which many perimenopausal women experience, says Dr Sisodia.
If you have alcohol after a long day at work, kick the habit. It can actually make hot flashes and night sweats even worse.
3. Spicy foods
Spicy foods make tastebuds happy, but they can act as a trigger for hot flashes in some women.
4. High sugar foods
Foods with a high sugar content can cause a spike in blood sugar, which can subsequently lead to an energy crash. This fluctuation can accentuate mood swings during perimenopause, says the expert.
5. Processed foods
Highly processed foods are mostly loaded with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. These can worsen perimenopausal symptoms and contribute to weight gain, which is a common concern during this phase.
6. Saturated fats
Foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat and certain dairy products, can elevate cholesterol levels. This increase can be problematic, as women’s risk for heart disease rises during and after menopause, points out the expert.
A balanced diet can relieve some perimenopausal symptoms, but it’s crucial to recognise that dietary impacts can vary among women. So, you can consult a gynaecologist or nutritionist to tailor dietary choices according to your needs.