Please see below for some great lifestyle tips for Hormonal Health. There’s also a link at the end of the article to download the PDF document with all the information included for reference.
Stay hydrated: Fresh water, herbal teas: minimise/cut out caffeine & alcohol (common triggers for worsening symptoms). Check out joinclubsoda.com for support and inspiration on mindful drinking.
If relevant, seek support to stop smoking (common trigger for hot flushes and worsens bone & heart health).
Layer light clothing (and bedlinen). Wear natural, breathable fibres when possible.
Fill a small spray bottle with water and use this to spritz yourself if you feel overheated.
If you suffer with hot flushes, use a fan; small portable ones are available to take out and about.
Consider keeping a journal/using an app (e.g. Balance) to see if you can identify any symptom triggers.
Centre your diet around plant-based whole-foods:
women who follow a plant-based diet have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recent evidence suggests that they may also suffer fewer premenstrual and menopausal symptoms; leafy
greens and dark-coloured berries are particularly beneficial.
Include a serving (or two) of beans/lentils/hummus in your daily diet – a fantastic source of fibre, protein and micronutrients. If you do not already regularly consume these and/or suffer with bloating, build up intake slowly and consider short-term digestive enzymes (e.g. BeanAssist); see also Dr Megan Rossi’s excellent book: Eat Yourself Healthy (focuses on improving gut health).
Think “right carbs, good fats” not “low-carb, high fat” or “no fat”: complex carbohydrates (e.g. root vegetables, beans, oats, wholegrains) and plant- based fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado, good quality olive oil) are essential for good hormonal health.
Consider switching cow’s milk for fortified soya/oat/hemp milk (more heart-healthy).
Include minimally processed soya foods in your diet: e.g. edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, miso – helpful for menopausal symptoms, heart and breast health. Flavour your food with a multitude of herbs & spices (rich in polyphenols – plant-based micronutrients).
Eat the rainbow AND thealphabet:
fill your plate with a wide variety of brightly coloured fruit & veg. Aim to include at least ten different types of vegetable in your meals each week (aim for 30 varieties over the month). Diversity is key to a healthy gut microbiome (and good hormonal & emotional health).
Minimise refined carbohydrates and junk food (e.g. added sugars, white bread, baked goods, take-aways). Avoid processed meats and all factory-farmed (intensively- reared) meat, fish, dairy & eggs.
Aim to eat all meals within a 12-hour window e.g. between 7am & 7pm. This helps with weight control.
Recipe book recommendations
(many of the authors also have social media accounts worth following):
The Happy Pear: Recipes for Happiness – David & Stephen Flynn
The Oh-She-Glows Cookbook – Angela Liddon
River Cottage: Much More Veg – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook – Del Sroufe
The Doctor’s Kitchen: Eat to Beat Illness – Dr Rupy Aujla
Bosh! Healthy Vegan – Henry Firth & Ian Theasby
Virtually Vegan – Heather Whinney
The Green Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer
Quick & Easy – Deliciously Ella
Recommended for everyone, irrespective of diet
(if no specific doses/preparations prescribed by your doctor):
- B12 Vitamin B12: Aim for 10 micrograms (mcg) daily or at least 2000 micrograms once a week
- D3 Vitamin D3: Aim for 10-20 mcg/400-800 IU October-April (in spring/summer ensure sun exposure to skin on arms/legs/back for at least 20 minutes daily; continue to supplement if not possible)
- Iodine Iodine: RDA 150 mcg daily (important for bone and thyroid health)
- Omega 3 Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): Algae derived (sustainable) combined EPA & DHA (250-500 mg/daily)
- or 1-2 tbsps of freshly ground flaxseed (e.g. added to cereal/smoothies/salad/soups) and 6 walnut halves daily.
Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night
If you suffer from hot flushes/night sweats, sleep naked or wear cotton nightclothes. Consider investing in a cold gel pack or cooling pillow. Avoid hot drinks before bed; take sips of cold water
Ensure your bedroom is comfortably cool. Keep the window slightly open and/or a fan near your bed.
Switch off electronic devices/screens at least one hour before bed and/or consider wearing blue-light blocking glasses in the evening.
Avoid alcohol before bed; not only does it reduce good-quality sleep, it is an endocrine (hormone) disrupter and can affect the efficacy of medication, including HRT.
Aim to get outside in the morning daylight (whatever the weather) for at least 20 minutes each day. If this is not possible, try and have your breakfast/morning drink close to a window/in a naturally lit area.
Do not consume caffeine (including cola) after midday
Avoid smoking. Nicotine acts as a stimulant and withdrawal can lead to early wakening.
Get up and go to bed at approximately the same time each day, including weekends, to establish a routine.
sleepio.com is a digital, evidence-based, CBT programme (available on the NHS in some areas)
Move your body daily – this is important for mental & physical well-being, as well as symptom control.
If you don’t already have an exercise regimen, start slowly – even a ten-minute walk around the block has its benefits: NHS:Active10 or consider a five minute morning online yoga session e.g.
Yoga with Adriene
Weight-bearing exercise (e.g. hiking, running, dancing, weight-training, tennis) – at least three times weekly – is essential for bone health after menopause. Swimming and cycling are great forms of exercise for heart health and general well-being, but will not prevent osteoporosis.
Check out the Couch to 5K programme or consider joining your local Park Run or GreatRun Local – fantastic not only for exercise, but also community-building, social inclusion and gets you out into nature (which has enormous benefits for our mental health). Do not be put off if you do not run (yet!); many people walk or walk-run around the courses. Children and dogs are welcome too.
Balance and core-strength are increasingly important as we age, and reduce the risk of falling in later life. Another reason to consider a regular yoga practice, or why not sign up to a local/ online Pilates or tai chi class?
Stress Reduction/Self Care
Stress reduction is important for all of us and is paramount in managing hormonal upheaval
5-10 minutes of daily mindfulness meditation/ breathing exercises can provide enormous benefits and lower the stress response: Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace are all meditation apps you can trial for free. Clarity is an app designed specifically with menopause in mind.
Take at least 15-30 minutes a day, every day, to do something you enjoy (and solely for you) e.g. reading a novel, gardening, playing an instrument, having a bath with relaxing essential oils, listening
to your favourite music/podcast, walking in nature.
Be Kind to Yourself!
The 4 Pillar Plan, The Stress Solution and/or Feel Better in 5: Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health: Dr Juliet McGrattan
The Gifts of Imperfection: Brené Brown
Podcasts for health, wellbeing & inspiration
Feel Better, Live More
The Doctor’s Kitchen
The Holistic Healing Project
Hannah was a guest on The Doctor’s Kitchen Podcast recently (episode linked here) and below is the recipe that I cooked for Hannah.
Thai Style Tempeh Salad
10mls Sesame Oil
2 tsp Coconut Sugar
10ml Fish Sauce (optional)
1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
1 Garlic, Grated
5cm Piece Ginger, Grated
5cm piece Lemongrass, Grated (optional)
1 lime, Juice
150g Pea Shoots
100g Bean Sprouts
1 Carrot, Speedy Peeled
1 Red Pepper, finely sliced
10g Coriander, chopped
Sliced peanuts or Cashews
2 Spring Onions, Chopped
1. Sauté the tempeh in a griddle pan with a little sesame oil
2. Place tempeh in the marinade, mixed in a bowl for at least 5 minutes
3. Add salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix together
Article Written and created by Dr Hannah Short.