Gentle Nutrition & Peri-Menopause Part 3
Nutrients for our bones, minding our beautiful brains, and supporting heart health
Supporting Bone Health
Our bones are a living structure, constantly breaking down and renewing. Female bone density generally peaks in our mid thirties. As we approach peri-menopause in our forties the rate at which our bones are depositing bone mass slows down- with the first two years post-menopause being the most vulnerable for low-bone density.
As I always mention in workshops and with clients, in order to build anything we need resource! Our bones are no different. Building healthy bone tissue requires lots of resource in the form of nutrients.
We also need to remind our bones that they are required, as physical stimuli to the bone signals bone turnover. This involves weight bearing movement that is available to you. Niamh at Yinstinct Yoga offers accessible yoga and exercise options to support bone health with a wonderfully informed focus on mid-life physiology.
Nutrients for bone health
We often only focus on minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Whilst these are essential nutrients for building healthy bones we also need to remember the importance of vitamin C, proteins and fat soluble vitamins A, D,E and K. Combined, these nutrients are the resource our bones need for healthy mineral deposition, flexibility and structure. Below are some snack and meal ideas with a focus on these nutrients.
Cod baked with olive oil and cherry tomatoes, plus buttered mashed sweet potato and steamed broccoli with sesame seeds.
Snack plate with peeled orange segments, handful of walnuts and squares of dark chocolate
Wholegrain toast with a side of tinned mackerel and scrambled eggs
Chocolate orange protein smoothie made with banana, hemp oil and sunflower seeds
Bowl of Greek Yogurt with raspberries and walnuts
Watercress, white bean and potato soup using chicken stock/broth
Slice of Menopause Loaf
Minding our Beautiful Brain
One of the common symptoms folks experience during the peri-menopause transition is brain-fog, overwhelm and difficulty concentrating. Contrary to our muscles and liver, our brain does not store fuel. It is therefore important we offer our brain regular supply of slow release energy- after all, it is an extremely hard working organ accounting for up to 20% use of our total energy intake. Cutting energy (calories), skipping meals or long fasts are likely to negatively impact peri-menopausal brain symptoms over time. Recap balancing blood glucose levels for ways to support a steady supply of energy.
Our brain is also the fattest part of our body at nearly 60% in weight. Beneficial dietary fats are therefore crucial to healthy brain function (at any age). Aim to eat a portion of beneficial fat at every meal and snack;
Sautéing morning scrambled eggs in olive oil
Handful of walnuts or Brazil nuts with your morning coffee
Mashed avocado on toast
Almond butter on oatcakes sprinkled with hemp seeds and a cup of afternoon herbal tea
Baked salmon in sweet chilli sauce, brown rice and olive oil-sautéed green leafy veg
Heart and Vascular Health
A healthy vascular system ensures optimal flow of blood to our organs through the powerful physiology of our heart muscle and an amazing network of blood vessels. These vessels are wonderfully flexible allowing for the crucial management of our blood pressure and heart rate. With the decline in estrogen and progesterone there can be changes to this flexibility with deposits of cholesterol, potentially changing the ease at which our heart and vessels manage optimal blood flow.
Purple foods contain a powerful antioxidant known as anthocyanin. Anthocyanin has been shown in various studies to support the flexibility of our blood vessels. Ensuring adequate variety of fibre-containing foods is also beneficial for our heart health by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. A variety of whole-grain such as oats, barley, rye and pseudo-grains such as quinoa and buckwheat are all rich sources of fibres and are shown to support improved cardiovascular health outcomes. Incorporating plenty of monounsaturated and long-chain poly-unsaturated fats in the form of olive oil, nuts and seeds, and oily fish respectively has also been shown to offer heart protective properties.
Drizzle olive oil onto salads, pasta dishes and lentil dhal
Chop up different raw veggies such as carrots, celery, peppers and cucumber to eat with delicious dips
Top your oat porridge with colourful blueberries, prunes some hemp seeds and honey
Leave the skin on sweet potato for making quick oven potato wedges
Add a tin of drained lentils to your Bolognese sauce
Choose wholegrain breads and top with tinned beans and cheese for a simple and satisfying lunch.
Blend buckwheat groats (available in most supermarkets) with milk of choice with an egg for morning pancakes. Top with Greek yogurt, raspberries and drizzle of honey.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when reading information about the potential issues that can arise as we age. When working with clients transitioning through the peri-menopausal phase we take it step by step, looking at which aspect of your health and wellbeing you feel you'd like to prioritise. Using simple, nutritious and delicious recipes that you can incorporate into your week, we aim to help bring balance and ease to some of your symptomatic experiences. We may also look at nutraceutical support (supplements), and offer testing if and when potentially necessary. If you'd like more information on nutrition therapy consultation, please do reach out, I'd be delighted to chat with you.
NB: Blog posts are for educational purposes only. Please consult your doctor if you have concerns about your health.