A Natural Transition
Menopause is not a disease or a deficiency; it’s a natural phase of life. Embracing this natural journey and nourishing your body with the right nutrition can make a world of difference in how you feel.
Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause
Perimenopause typically starts in a woman’s late 30s or early 40s. During this period, the ovaries gradually reduce the production of estrogen and progesterone, resulting in hormonal fluctuations that can extend over 6-8 years. Menopause, officially defined as 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
Common Symptoms and Challenges
Perimenopause and menopause bring about a spectrum of symptoms, encompassing hot flashes, sleep disturbances, brain fog, mood swings, and more. Additionally, these hormonal changes can elevate the risk of conditions such as obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and mental health issues.
Nutrition to the Rescue
Nutrition can be your ally in navigating this transition. Here are essential nutrients and their food sources to enhance your health and well-being:
- Protein: Lean sources like chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, and beans aid in weight management, stabilize blood glucose, and preserve lean muscle mass. Don’t forget eggs and tofu for variety!
- Fiber: Found in avocados, berries, veggies, and whole grains, fiber helps control appetite, maintain a healthy weight, and supports digestive health. It even reduces the risk of certain cancers.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These powerhouses found in salmon, sardines, and walnuts benefit your brain, heart, and bones. They can also ease hot flashes, joint pain, and inflammation.
- Magnesium: Leafy greens, dark chocolate, and nuts provide magnesium, crucial for bone health, better sleep, mental well-being, and heart health.
- Vitamin D: Get your dose from oatmeal, dairy, salmon, and almonds. Vitamin D supports weight loss, lean muscle mass, and strong bones while reducing the risk of breast cancer and fatigue.
- Calcium: Protect your bone density and heart health with low-sugar Greek yogurt, almonds, sardines, and leafy greens like kale.
Nourishing Your Journey
Remember, perimenopause and menopause are natural phases of life. With the right nutrition, you can feel your best during this transition.
Ready to explore how nutrition can support you during this phase of life?
A Healthy Recipe: Omega-3 Salad by Sara Dow
- 2 cups mixed salad greens
- 4 oz cooked salmon
- 1 Tbsp walnuts
- 1 Tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- ½ medium avocado, sliced
- 1 oz cheddar cheese OR feta cheese
- Layer salmon, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and avocado on a bed of salad greens.
- Top with shredded cheddar cheese (pairs nicely with avocado ranch dressing from ALDI) or crumbled feta cheese (pairs well with balsamic vinegar).
Yield: 1 serving
Nutrition: This Omega-3 rich salad is a nutritional powerhouse. Salmon provides a generous dose of omega-3 fatty acids that support brain, heart, and bone health. Walnuts and pepitas add a satisfying crunch and extra omega-3 goodness. Avocado contributes heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium. Top with cheese for a boost of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Enjoy!
Discover this Resource…
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) offers evidence-based articles, expert advice, and a wealth of resources to help you navigate this transformative phase of life with confidence. Visit their website to access these valuable resources and find a menopause specialist in your area.
NAMS Website: menopause.org
About Sara Dow
Sara is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist for the YMCA. In 2018, Sara was inspired by the YMCA community to go back to school and pursue her dream of becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Her monthly blog posts feature evidence-based nutrition information, healthy recipes, and member Q&As.
Want to level up your nutrition? Register for a One-On-One Performance Nutrition Workshop with Sara. In this 60-minute session, Sara will provide evidence-based guidelines for pre- and post-workout nutrition specific to your goals, healthy recipes, and practical tips for incorporating real foods into your diet to support optimal performance and recovery. Click here to register today!