Best Practices For Early Perimenopause
In Perimenopause: What It Means And What’s Happening To You, I told you about what perimenopause is, and the 3 stages of it.
Today, I’m going to share best practices of taking care of yourself during the beginning of perimenopause (PM), ages 35ish-44ish.
Here’s the deal: the single most important thing you can do to ease the changes of perimenopause is behaviorial change.
I know, I know, you want to hear about what food you can include more of. What supplement you should take. How much water you should drink a day.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the greatest changes come from changing the behaviors you’ve been participating in for most of your adult life.
What do I mean by this?
👉Late nights & early mornings
👉12 hour days on computers & phones & other devices
👉Over dependence on social media
👉Coffee in the morning to wind up, wine in the evening to wind down (yep, sorry-but-it’s-true)
👉Not taking any time for yourself (running to the grocery store or Target doesn’t count)
👉And yes, you probably need to drink more water (with some electrolytes!)
Why is it so important to begin shifting these behaviors? Because cortisol, your stress hormone, impacts progesterone production. As I mentioned in my first blog about perimenopause, progesterone begins to slip around age 35.
DHEA, which is the precursor hormone to testosterone and estrogen, also begins to falter in our 30s. DHEA has a pretty intimate relationship with cortisol, too, as they are both produced in your adrenals.
All of those things I mentioned above are stimulating your cortisol production. And your sex hormones are taking a hit in the process.
As a lifetime of not-so-great habits decides to cash in on your energy, especially after age 40, caffeine, alcohol & recreational drugs are going to become even harder to process than ever before.
Remember, your liver has to process estrogen (& other hormones) alongside that caffeine, alcohol, drugs (not to mention chemicals in your environment).
When your liver is overloaded, it doesn’t metabolize estrogen as effectively down the safer 2-OH pathway, but heads down the more carcinogenic 4-OH or fibroid/cyst making 16-OH pathways. This also causes worse PMS, heavy bleeding, mood issues, and more.
So what kind of dietary changes help with perimenopause?
✨Eat more protein. I can almost guarantee you aren’t eating enough. Throw out the idea that as a culture we consume too much protein – we actually consume way too many carbs and sugar generally. These send your body on rollercoaster ride of blood sugar dysregulation and emotional upheaval, and stimulate cortisol production. Which, as I talked about previously, negatively impacts sex hormone production.
✅ Shoot for 90-100g of protein a day (many women need even more). Start your day off with 25-30g of protein at breakfast. Here’s 10 Ways To Get 30g Of Protein during that first meal of the day.
✨Get more good fat in your diet, especially fish/fish oil, and cut out vegetable oils (except olive oil). The inflammation caused by vegetable oils impacts your hormone receptors. Plus, it ain’t great for your heart.
✨Make your carbs count depending on *your* body’s needs. Don’t forget, veggies are carbs! If you are eating enough vegetables, especially root veggies, you are NOT on a low-carb diet. As you continue further along PM, you may find you need to shift these amounts depending on your cycle.
✨If possible, have hormone testing done and thyroid levels checked. This is the time when estrogen excess/dominance often starts to occur, and you really want to make sure estrogen is being metabolized effectively in the liver.
✨Beware taking DIM or Calcium D-Glucarate without knowing what’s going on in your liver. You want to make sure that both your Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification of estrogen are working well, as well as Phase 3, which occurs in the colon, before you upregulate either of the liver phases.
Incorporate more general liver support:
✅ Lemon in warm water first thing in the morning
✅ Milk thistle
✅ NAC or glutathione
✅ Castor oil packs are magnificent! My favorite sustainable option is Queen of Thrones
‼️ Speaking of supporting your liver, none of those supplements are going to help your liver much if you are still guzzling wine every evening. ‼️
There’s no way around it – alcohol becomes harder for your body to process as you get into your late 30s/early 40s. That headache after 1 or 2 glasses of wine is your first indication.
Speaking of loving your liver, don’t forget, caffeine also needs to be processed by the liver, and has a huge impact on cortisol levels. If you are a 3-4 cup of coffee-a-dayer, it’s time to start reeling it in.
Now let’s look at supplements and lifestyle changes for supporting PM:
✨Magnesium, Rhodiola, Methylated B vitamin complex, and a good quality probiotic are generally well-tolerated and helpful in PM.
✨Check levels of Vitamin D, iron, B6, B12, and Folate, zinc (via alkaline phosphatase) on blood labs, and phosphorylated serine for high cortisol/sleep issues.
✨Prioritize sleep. Now is the time to start inching back towards 10pm bedtime (yes really). It may take you a couple of years to get there, but post-40, it’s worth it. What’s my favorite sleep support? Taurine.
✨Take *at least* 5-10 minutes twice a day for yourself, to breathe, meditate, visualize, sing – anything that brings you into your parasympathetic nervous system.
✨Start lifting weights. Doesn’t have to be 30 pound weights; just something to feed your muscles. This will naturally support testosterone levels, as well as help establish long-term bone health.
✨ Stay tuned for my next blog post to learn about MIDDLE PM, and what you can do to support your body during this stage. ✨
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