We’ve all heard the horror stories surrounding menopause. The night Sweats. The hot flashes. Mood swings. Osteoporosis. Surprisingly, what should be more worrisome than menopause itself, is perimenopause, which begins almost ten years before the onset of menopause and that’s when the body begins to prepare for the big change. And that’s when most of the symptoms begin to appear. And that is when you have full control over how to best prepare your mind and body to embrace the changes that menopause will bring. Let’s look at a few of those ways to prepare yourself for the changes in your body.
Get Plenty Of Calcium
After the age of 50, our body’s calcium requirements increase from 1000 mg a day to 1200 mg a day. During perimenopause, as the body’s estrogen levels start plummeting, the capacity of the bones to retain calcium declines. This can cause thinning of bones and lead to osteoporosis, a condition that can result in debilitating fractures. It is therefore vital to ensure that your diet is meeting your body’s calcium needs. Consuming milk and milk products, green, leafy veggies like kale, canned fish and other fortified sources like juices, breads and cereals can take care of your body’s calcium requirements.
If you feel you aren’t consuming enough of these, you can consult your doctor who can then put you on calcium supplements. These supplements, however, are known to carry risks and research suggests that they aren’t very effective in preventing fractures.
Know Your Triggers
Most perimenopausal women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats. Although the precise reason behind them isn’t known, they are associated with low estrogen levels in the body and a hyperactive hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating the body’s temperature. Although the onset of hot flashes is sudden most of the time, it helps to notice what triggers it in your body. Sometimes, spicy foods, caffeine or alcohol can trigger their onset.
Sometimes high levels of cholesterol are responsible for bringing them on. Adding foods like oats and salmon to your diet may help in keeping your cholesterol levels low and prevent hot flashes.
Beat Bloating With Water
During the perimenopausal period, it helps to drink as much water everyday as possible. That’s to combat the water retention, gas and bloating that the hormonal changes in the body cause. It might seem a tad strange but the best way to prevent water retention is to keep the body well hydrated. 2-3 liters spread throughout the day should be enough to keep you well hydrated. And so are water-rich fruits and veggies like celery, cucumber and watermelon. Also, drinking green tea, if you have managed to develop a taste for it, will help keep bloating at bay. It’s also important to watch your intake of salty and gas-causing foods like beans, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Cut Down On Your Alcohol Intake
The bar cabinet may beckon after a long, tiring day at work, but too much alcohol is known to increase the risk of breast cancer. As per the latest research, alcohol consumption has been directly linked to it. And as far as breast cancer risk goes, the odds are anyway stacked high against women stepping into the wrong side of 40. Alcohol causes the estrogen levels to rise in the body, which in turn increases the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol also makes one put on weight and fat cells thus produced further increase this risk. Having said that, if you must have alcohol, it’s a good idea to limit it to one drink a day.
Limit Junk Food
As the perimenopausal period sets in, the body starts losing muscle and starts storing fat. Which is why, it becomes difficult to lose weight around this time and even maintaining your current weight becomes a challenge. To stay close to your ideal weight, experts recommend cutting down your daily calorific intake by about 200-300 calories, but not at the expense of healthy, nutritious food. Cutting down on processed food and food with no nutritional value like alcohol or fat can help you stay close to your ideal weight without losing out on the nutrition.
Cutting back on the junk and adding foods rich in lean protein and water, will not just help with your weight but also reduce your risk of heart disease and help you deal with the changes that the aging process brings, much better.