Because the whole perimenopause/menopause stage can be tough. It's true!
It's confusing. Overwhelming. And sometimes you just want an expert to tell you exactly what to do — and not to do.
Well, that's why you have us.
Because if you've been struggling with different peri symptoms, and have no idea how to best support your changing body, you're not alone.
Watch: Emily hit puberty at four years old. Now, she's experiencing menopause. Post continues below.
Side note: The Very Peri audio series is your all-in-one survival guide for getting through perimenopause. With 10 topics covering everything from science and symptoms to solutions and support. Everything you need to know to take on peri with confidence. Listen Now.
Here's what to do on the nutrition front during your peri and menopausal years.
1. Focus on protein.
How much protein are you getting? Really.
Because apparently, it's one of the most important things when it comes to nutrition over 50, but it's also one most people ignore.
"The more we come to understand the significant hormonal and physiological changes that are going on in the peri years, the more we come to understand that protein as a nutrient is extremely important," said Burrell.
"Not only does increasing our total protein intake help to prevent the loss of muscle mass that contributes to a lower metabolic rate over time, but it aids an overall reduction of carbohydrate intake, which in turn helps to ward off the effects of reduced oestrogen levels."
Makes sense, no?
If you're looking for a place to start, Burrell suggests using this as a guide for your daily protein intake: "Women in their 40s and 50s need at least one gram of protein per kilo of body weight or 20 to 30g per meal, three to four times each day, to reach these amounts."
Including more protein at each meal also helps feeling more satiated, Burrell added.
So, yeah. Protein = good.
2. Eat to reduce inflammation.
In case you aren't across it, when you hit perimenopause/menopause your oestrogen levels drop. Now, a key function of oestrogen is to work as a potent anti-inflammatory factor, which means that a decline in this hormone triggers inflammation. This can result in symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and joint pain.
According to our expert, introducing anti-inflammatory foods into our diet can help reduce chronic inflammation during menopause and ageing.
Burrell said favouring fresh, whole foods is beneficial in supporting your health and wellbeing — think: foods like fruit, vegetable, healthy fats, legumes, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds.
"Not only is an anti-inflammatory diet the basis of the healthiest diets in the world, but focusing on this eating style throughout the menopausal years will help to buffer the cellular changes that result when the reproductive hormones reduce over time."
"This natural process means we no longer have the natural protective effects oestrogen offers when it comes to inflammatory pathways in the body, and as such, can significantly benefit from a diet that is anti-inflammatory, thanks to its mix of natural, whole foods that are especially high in antioxidants."
3. Load up on the superfoods.
Question for you: How many vegetables do you eat in a day? Oh, come one, we won't tell!
Burrell said, "Chances are you know you need to eat more veggies, but it is also likely you are not getting anywhere near the seven to 10 serves of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables daily to help ward off the natural increase in inflammation in the peri years."
"This means the more red, green and purple vegetables you eat each day, the better for your skin, your cells and your overall energy levels."
*Adds to cart*.
4. Target bone health.
Along with all the other fun perimenopausal and menopausal stuff, bone loss is up there with other common symptoms. Hooray!
"While many of us need fewer calories as we get older, in a number of cases our nutrient requirements increase and this is especially true when it comes to calcium," said Burrell.
"In the early adult and reproductive years, oestrogen plays a key role in ensuring bone health as it encourages bone cell production."
"During peri and menopause, as oestrogen levels decline, so too does bone cell production significantly increasing the risk of osteoporosis developing. For this reason, ensuring adequate dietary calcium is crucial in the peri years."
5. Fuel to feel well.
"While there are a number of reasons that diet becomes increasingly important in peri, eating well during this time of life, when work and family can be at their busiest, is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are feeling your best on a daily basis."
"With high energy demands coinciding with significant hormonal changes, it can be easy to grab food on the run and miss out on the essential nutrients your body is desperate for."
"Building a strong nutrition foundation that allows you to enjoy your favourite foods, minus any diets and deprivation, is a simple way to feel your best at this intense life stage."
What are some symptoms you've noticed during menopause? Share with us in the comment section below.
Feature image: Instagram; @susieburrelldietitian.
The Very Peri audio series is your all-in-one survival guide for getting through perimenopause. With 10 topics covering everything from science and symptoms to solutions and support. Everything you need to know to take on peri with confidence. Listen Now.
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