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Hormone-Healthy Habits: 5 lifestyle choices for perimenopausal wellbeing

Updated: Mar 26

Nurturing your body through the perimenopausal journey

I find it intriguing to engage with women in the perimenopausal stage as they share their experiences. Frequently conversations follow a familiar pattern, touching on bothersome symptoms such as sleep disturbances, mood swings, energy fluctuations, sudden weight gain, brain fog, and hot flushes. Many express a sense of desperation, seeking solutions through visits to their GP or consulting other healthcare professionals or considering HRT. Whilst some find relief through these avenues, others are left feeling frustrated, sensing a lack of understanding and support in managing their symptoms.

It's undeniable that perimenopausal symptoms can be challenging and women can find it comforting to share their experiences. The pattern that emerges though is the fixation on symptoms which seems to be the primary lens through which women view their perimenopausal transition.

How about we change that story and look at lifestyle factors that influence the perimenopausal experience. There is an opportunity to redefine how we perceive and approach this transition. By reframing our perspective and focusing on proactive lifestyle choices we can embrace perimenopause as a portal to healthy ageing. Taking a holistic approach involves looking at various aspects of life that contribute to overall wellbeing.

Here are 5 important lifestyle choices that can help towards a smoother transition to menopause:

1 - Nourishing the Gut

There is a wealth of knowledge highlighting the crucial role our gut microbiome plays for our whole health. Many women enter menopause already grappling with compromised gut health, often a consequence of our Western diet characterized by processed foods and excessive sugar intake. During the perimenopausal phase, nurturing our gut becomes especially vital as the gut microbiome helps regulate and metabolize hormones.

  • To bolster gut health, it's advisable to minimize consumption of ultra-processed foods and prioritize whole, unprocessed options. Engage in home cooking as much as possible. It can be fun to try out new recipes!

  • Current recommendations underscore the importance of diversifying our plant intake, aiming for a variety of 30 different types each week. I know this sounds like a lot. But this encompasses fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, pulses and also herbs and spices, fostering a more robust and diverse microbiome.

  • Providing the digestive system with a break of approximately 12 hours overnight can be beneficial, allowing it time to fully empty and undergo repair.

  • Furthermore, moderating alcohol consumption is advised as excessive intake can damage the microbiome and hinder gut health

2 - Movement

Physical activity is crucial for maintaining good health, especially during the menopausal transition. Engaging in physical exercise not only boosts mood, but also plays a vital role in maintaining heart health. However the exercise needs of women change during the perimenopausal stage and routines that were effective in their 20s and 30s may no longer be suitable.

Two types of exercise are particularly recommended during this stage: cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking and strength training which may include exercises like push-ups or weightlifting. Additionally, activities like Yoga or Qi-Gong offer relaxation benefits and are highly beneficial.

Given that every individual is unique, it's essential for each woman to explore and find the exercise regime that works best for her Remember, any form of movement is better than none at all.

"The perimenopause symptoms can be managed by making lifestyle changes. Think of the symptoms as your body's way of crying out for love, help and attention." – Tanith Lee

3 - Mindfulness and stress reduction

Throughout a woman's life, stress tends to accumulate, particularly as she juggles the demands of work and family. This stress can lead to hormonal fluctuations, including increased cortisol. Prolonged elevation of cortisol can mimic menopause symptoms and exacerbate existing one.

Considerations for managing stress:

  • Identify and eliminate obvious stress triggers whenever possible

  • Practice mindfulness and deep breathing exercises to activate the vagus nerve which helps to alleviate the fight-flight response

  • Spend time outdoors in nature as it has a calming effect on the nervous system. Engage in mindfulness by observing the sights, sounds and sensations around you

  • Embrace time with family and friends to foster social connections and emotional support

  • Eat well - include magnesium rich food like leafy greens, nuts and bananas as magnesium possesses calming properties

4 - Quality Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for maintaining good health. Unfortunately for perimenopausal women a deep, restorative sleep can be a distant memory. Whilst low oestrogen contributes to low melatonin, so does the modern lifestyle.

  • To promote better sleep, it's advisable to refrain from consuming large meals close to bedtime as they may trigger hot flushes. Aim to allow 2-3 hours between your evening meal and sleep to ensure that your digestive isn't active when you're trying to drift off

  • Creating a cool, dark sleeping environment can also enhance sleep quality significantly

  • Limiting screentime before bed is crucial, as it can inhibit melatonin production, essential for a restful sleep

  • Furthermore, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon/evening can help prevent sleep disruptions and maintain overall sleep qualities

5 - Holistic Self-care Practices

Embrace self-care rituals that nurture your mind, body and spirit. This can include activities like warm baths, journaling, meditation, practising gratitude and spending time in nature. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Put yourself first and nourish yourself from the inside!

Whilst symptom discussions are undoubtedly valuable, it's time to expand our understanding of perimenopause. Embracing a holistic perspective enables women to navigate this transformative phase with a sense of empowerment, focusing on lifestyle choices that support their overall wellbeing. Ladies, let's move beyond symptoms and start nourishing ourselves from the inside!

If you would like to discuss with me how I can help you with that, please contact me for a discovery call. I'd love to hear from you.


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