As we move through perimenopause, our hormones are going crazy and completely out of whack/balance. 

Wildly fluctuating hormones, namely oestrogen and progesterone, are the reasons we suffer symptoms in perimenopause.

A focus on naturally balancing out these hormones can significantly reduce many of the symptoms we experience.

Other misbehaving hormones causing us grief in perimenopause are

  • Cortisol
  • Insulin and
  • Appetite hormones: leptin and ghrelin.  

The Endocrine System: the hormone universe!  What is it??

The system in our bodies that controls our hormones is also called our Endocrine System, which is a network of glands and organs in the body that produces hormones.

You can look at hormones as your body's chemical messengers.

They travel in our bloodstream to various tissues or organs, attaching to a receptor cell which tells that cell to do something e.g. make cells grow faster, release another hormone, absorb sugar from the blood, withhold water from the kidneys, or many other important functions with our bodies.

perimenopause the endocrine system

The ovaries maintain the health of our reproductive system, they produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone which work together to promote the healthy development of female sex characteristics during puberty and to ensure fertility. 

You can see in the graph below, what happens to oestrogen and progesterone levels in perimenopause.

As they start to decline, we slowly move away from our reproductive years and into menopause (a point in time when you haven't had a period for 12-months).

perimenopause hormone chart

As you can see, balancing our hormones as we transition to menopause (transition = perimenopause) is key to reducing those ghastly peri symptoms.

Here are our top tips on balancing hormones in perimenopause naturally.

Top Tips to Naturally Balance Hormones in Perimenopause

1. Eat Enough Protein 

In peri it’s important to eat protein for soooo many reasons:

  1. To keep up muscle mass
  2. Keep you fuller for longer and
  3. For the maintenance and repair of every cell in your body.

Protein also supplies the essential amino acids needed to build your protein hormones (which play a crucial role in regulating many physiological processes, such as energy metabolism, appetite control and managing stress).

In peri you need to eat 1.2g of protein daily per kg of body weight. So it means incorporating a palm size of protein per meal and include in snacks daily. 

Find out more about the Power of Protein in Perimenopause here.

2. Exercise

Exercise improves blood flow and aids the hormone receptors to function optimally.

Some studies suggest that it reduces the chances of insulin resistance (likely due to the fact exercise helps to keep you in a healthy weight range, reducing the chances of fat storage around your middle). 

Read more about how exercise can help reduce your perimenopause symptoms here.

3. Healthy Weight Range

Obesity is linked to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. Remember perimenopause is a time when we start to store fat around our middles not on our hips and thighs (boo!!).  Why is it important?  Because fat storage around our middles can lead to insulin resistance which can lead to Type 2 diabetes - not good! 

Read more here about insulin resistance and how to steer clear of that. 

4. Gut Health

Our microbiome acts as an endocrine organ and an unbalanced and distressed microbiome can cause either the deficiency or excess of free oestrogen. It also regulates appetite and a healthy microbiome reduces the chances of insulin resistance.

A focus on good gut health is often overlooked as a way to reduce perimenopause symptoms. Check out our guide here to get started.

5. Reduce Sugar Intake

Sugar is not your gut's friend and it's definitely not your Pal in Peri.  Making a concerted effort to reduce your sugar consumption could drastically impact on your symptoms (for the better!).

Be sure to watch out for added sugars, particularly Fructose, that which can be found in sauces, salad dressings, sugary drinks, yogurt, baked goods, and fast foods.

A diet high in Fructose is linked to Insulin resistance, disrupting the hormone Leptin (which helps regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger, which in turn diminishes fat storage in fat cells).  Phew!  There's alot going on in there!

Learn about how to control sugar cravings here.

Are you still with us?  Hang in there - it'll be worth it!

6. Reduce Stress

Ah stress.... this one's a biggie for us lot.

We know well that with our busy lives often juggling households, jobs/careers, finances, kids and their calendars, extended family, stress just feels like an inherent part of existence. 

And whilst yes, when we step back and look at what we're juggling, it's hardly surprising at all that the vast majority of us are completely and utterly wired.

But, even though this time of our lives often comes with increased responsibility and more balls in the air than ever, it's also more important than ever to finally put ourselves on our priority lists. 

It's do or die, Ladies (okay, we're turning up the drama here but whatever it takes to get you to rest!).

So: What calms you? What helps you reset? Make a little list of those things and refer to them when you've cleared yourself some alone time just for you.  Maybe have some things you can do if you have a spare 2 minutes, things you can do if you have an hour, things you can if, OMG! you get a WHOLE DAY!

Our bodies produce the hormone cortisol from our adrenal glands in response to dealing with stress.

Once the stress has been dealt with our bodies go back to normal. If we are constantly stressed then we start to release cortisol regularly and we'll experience elevated cortisol levels, which in turn stimulates appetite and makes us reach for sugar and high fat foods.

So, finding time to do things that are chill can have a seriously great impact on our experience of perimenopause symptoms. 

Take time out of your day - every day - for you.

Some suggestions might be:

  • Read
  • Do some yoga
  • Meditate
  • Go outside and stare at a tree, focusing on that one thing and nothing else.
  • Simply breathe
  • NOTE: Regular yoga for perimenopause women shows great results in reducing stress levels and balancing mood symptoms.

Find out more about how to soothe mood swings and anxiety, here.

7. Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats help reduce the chance of insulin resistance and keep you fuller for longer.   Aim to have a small portion (the size of your thumb with every meal you eat.

Good fats are found in

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Olives and
  • Coconuts.

These healthy fats are also called Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and are unique in that they are less likely to be stored in fat tissue and more likely to be taken up directly by your liver for immediate use as energy, promoting increased calorie burning.  Oh yes! We want more of this lot!

8. Good Sleep

Sleep is a time your body is resting and digesting.

Poor sleep can throw your hormones out of whack causing decrease in the fullness hormones (ghrelin and leptin), increase hunger (ghrelin) and stress hormones (cortisol), and increases the chances of insulin resistance.

Getting good sleep in perimenopause is easier said than done too with many of us experiencing poor and broken sleep.  Read our post here on how to achieve a good nights sleep 

9. Eat Enough Fibre

Eating a diet high in fibre is part of a healthy diet and reduces your chances of insulin resistance and releases hormones to tell you that you are full. You also need fibre to feed your good bacteria in your gut, as a happy gut helps balance hormones and reduce peri symptoms.

For good fibre, eat lots of fresh fruit and veg and some whole grains.  We usually try to make sure 3/4 of our plates are filled with veg each meal.

10. Additional Natural Supports

There are so many different minerals, vitamins and herbal medicines that can aid in the balancing out of perimenopause hormones.

As a Clinical Nutritionist, SheBANG!'s Ange would prescribe depending on your specific needs:

"I would suggest speaking to your health professional to advise what is best for you. If I was to give only one suggestion, it would be Magnesium.

I find that most people are deficient and it's the mineral needed for optimal metabolic function; especially important during perimenopause.

It is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions within our bodies.

Magnesium Glycinate is the best form for peri ladies and is effective in treating peri mood symptoms, hot flashes, improving sleep, preventing insulin resistance and reducing migraines." Get some here.

March 21, 2022 — Angela Greely

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