Top 3 Habits For A Healthy Menopause Journey

Barbara Birke
Top 3 Habits For A Healthy Menopause Journey
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Menopause insights: How can you relieve perimenopause symptoms?

Your health habits and lifestyle have a big impact on how you experience menopause. The healthier you are and the better harmony your body systems are in, the better you will navigate through the hormonal changes of menopause. 

Blood sugar & hormones in menopause

Let's look at what this means in more detail. A woman with an unbalanced metabolism, severe blood sugar fluctuations, and chronic inflammation will have navigating through the hormonal changes of menopause. The symptoms of menopause can be more severe when compared to if they happen to a healthy and resilient system.

These menopausal changes can cause a big unbalance in body and mind - in addition to raising the possibility of certain health risks after menopause.

The different symptoms of menopause

As described in  our previous menopause blog post there are different phases of menopause each with it’s own wide variety of symptoms. Your hormonal changes don't just happen overnight, as your ovaries don't have a simple on-off button. The phase of transition also known as perimenopause, is a several-year long period of hormonal chaos that can be accompanied by many symptoms. Often mood swings, lack of energy, joint pain and sleep problems are the first you’ll experience before the 'typical' symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats come along. News flash: You are not only in menopause when you experience hot flashes. There are many symptoms (more on this in the first articlethat can start even when your cycle is still regular and you are not thinking about menopause at all!

3 Lifestyle Habits To Enjoy and Manage Menopause

So what is the ideal lifestyle that will support you through menopause? The 3 main categories I integrate in my work with women over 40 are nutrition, exercise and self-care (stress management and sleep). These 3 pillars are fundamentally important to supporting yourself in the best way possible during this phase of transition.

Let’s dive a little deeper into these "game-changing" topics - so what are the top 3 tips for an enjoyable menopause journey?

A Menopause Friendly Diet

1. Adopt a Menopause-Friendly Diet

Your eating habits can have a profound impact on your well-being and symptoms during menopause. In addition to the general principles of a healthy, varied diet, there are a few upgrades you can make to best support your menopause journey. 

Prioritize protein

Protein helps us build and maintain healthy cells, hormones and also muscle. During menopause, your metabolism also changes, with the negative consequence that you no longer use protein as efficiently as before. This means that regular intake of protein becomes especially important. In addition, protein keeps you full and satisfied, and it also supports blood sugar balance. Many women follow more carbohydrate-heavy diets and benefit greatly when increasing their focus on adding protein.

Menopause Tip: Start your meals and snacks with protein and colors - this will help you strike the right balance and keep your blood sugar stable.

Support Your Gut Health

Your gut produces and detoxifies hormones. This simple fact already explains why a healthy gut is essential for your well-being during menopause. In addition, a healthy gut supports optimal nutrient delivery. Often menopausal symptoms such as lack of energy joint pain, etc., are aggravated by the fact that you lack important nutrients or they are not sufficiently supplied.

Did you know that symptoms like mood swings and your tendency to inflammation can be linked to both menopause and gut health? So you see, a healthy gut will support you through this phase, while a compromised gut is much more likely to make symptoms worse.

Menopause Tip: ""Eat the Rainbow." Incorporate different vegetables, prebiotic (e.g. slightly unripe bananas, onions, asparagus, chicory) and probiotic foods (fermented things like sauerkraut) into your diet. Stay away from highly processed and sugary foods.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Chronic inflammation has a critical impact on degenerative (function-limiting) diseases and drives aging. Symptoms such as joint pain, skin, and intestinal problems are typical signs of this. Your brain and bone structure are also negatively impacted by chronic inflammation - you probably know how important this is during menopause. 

Menopause Tip: Focusing on incorporating different colors, healthy fats like fish and olive oil, and avoiding highly processed fats and foods are a good start to a anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Balance your blood sugar

How are you doing with mood swings, hot flashes or insomnia? And how well do you control your blood sugar? 

Balanced blood sugar levels can help you keep mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia in check. Here it is important to understand that your blood sugar always goes up and down depending on nutrition, activity and stress and these reactions can vary from person to person. What you should keep your eye on are more extreme peaks and troughs, also called glucose spikes and dips.

Menopause Tip: To understand how you can regulate your blood sugar, we recommend using the Hello Inside Appand continuous glucose monitor (CGM). With the Embracing Menopause program you can learn everything there is to know about blood sugar, hormones, menopause and how to reduce symptoms.

So you see, menopausal nutrition is more than just energy intake. It has a profound effect on your well-being and is a simple way to reduce your symptoms.

Additionally, supplements can be an important building block to make up for deficiencies even after adjusting your nutrition. However, since supplement needs vary from person to person, we recommend speaking to your health care professional for more information before taking them. 

In addition to the tips already mentioned, it is of course also important to ensure sufficient fluid intake. Sufficient fluids, in the form of water, or unsweetened beverages, positively influences many issues in menopause - such as digestion, dryness, lack of energy, ravenous hunger and focus problems. 

In addition to conscious nutrition, exercise and self-care are also among my top tips for breezing through menopause.

Regular Exercise For Healthy Menopause

2. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is like a miracle drug with an incredible number of benefits. For a healthy menopause journey, exercise is especially important to counteract many symptoms of hormonal changes and also the increased health risks. For example, you can actively counteract natural muscle loss. Strength training is always a good idea, but especially during menopause.

Muscle is a longevity organ - muscle keeps us upright, strong and slim, in addition:

  • Do muscles boost metabolism: Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. More muscles consume more energy. 
  • Muscle and exercise improve insulin sensitivity: Your diabetes risk increases with hormonal changes and muscle can actively counteract this tendency!
  • Your energy levels are positively influenced: Exercise of any kind optimizes your energy metabolism and builds more mitochondria (the power plants of your cells). These have a positive influence on your energy - often women in menopause have big problems with lack of energy.
  • Positive for mood and a healthy brain: Mood swings are a common symptom of menopause and can be actively counteracted with exercise. Exercise also has a positive impact on the long-term health of your brain.
  • Bone health: You probably already know how important healthy bones are for menopausal women. Exercise, and especially strength training and any jumping load has a direct stimulating effect on bone formation and is therefore extremely helpful!

So you see, exercise has so many benefits it should definitely be part of your lifestyle! Personally, when it comes to exercise I like to recommend focusing on your muscles, i.e. strength training. Women often worry that they will get too bulky if they do strength training. However, this is unfounded. You can and should use heavier weights. Remember, muscle makes you slim and keeps you strong!

Ideally doing a mix of varied exercise activities is best but in the end any kind of exercise is beneficial. Studies show that women who get regular exercise experience fewer menopause symptoms.

However, if you are running short on time and can only manage one type of exercise, prioritize strength training and muscle building!

Self Care

3. Practice Self-Care (Stress Management and Sleep)

In this time of hormonal change, the impact of stress cannot be underestimated. Stress hormones are "loud" and drown out all others in the orchestra of hormones, meaning unregulated stress can further confuse your changing hormones. In addition, we also become more sensitive to stress. Women in this phase of life are usually trying to juggle a lot. Their children, partner, job and maybe even their parents who now need more attention and support.

In order to take care of your own health and to be able to enjoy life for a long time, setting time aside for yourself or saying NO to things you don’t want can help to build healthy boundaries to reduce stress.

Menopause Tip: In addition to reducing stress, focus on managing stress. Great techniques include breathing exercises (such as: box breathing), walking, meditation, yoga - and many more.

Stress also affects your whole body. An interesting correlation is that your blood sugar regulation works better when you are NOT stressed. So for example, with deep breathing/box breathing before eating, you can improve your insulin sensitivity.

Menopause is a great time to prioritize yourself and your health and get into some basic habits that will provide support, in addition to having a positive affect on aging. You can't avoid the hormonal changes during this phase but you can have a significant impact on how well your body copes with these changes. 

Menopause Tip: A holistic approach is optimal, the interaction of nutrition (and supplements), exercise and self-care can trigger profound changes.

A step in the right direction can be the menopause program from Hello Inside You'll learn great strategies that you can gradually incorporate into your routines.

The Hello Inside App s a very helpful tool to lay important foundations for your healthy and enjoyable menopause journey. You will see and learn how your body reacts to your diet and lifestyle and get practical tips that you can integrate step by step into your daily routine to balance your blood sugar and balance your menopause symptoms.


About Barbara:

Barbara Birke is a sports scientist, nutritionist and mindfulness coach and owner of Optimum You . She supports women over 40 with nutrition, exercise and self-care to powerfully and balanced through menopause and into the rest of their lives. Barbara shares many tips, experience and inspiration in her podcast "Hello Menopause!". She also offers online courses and individual coaching for women over 40. You can find her on Instagram at @youroptimum


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