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Nutrition and lifestyle choices to support a new stage.

Women’s bodies recalibrate time and time again as we transition from one stage of life to the next—experiencing both the beautiful and divine, along with the uncomfortable and difficult. Such changes can leave us feeling vulnerable, but they can also serve as an opportunity to cultivate compassion for ourselves, our bodies, and our journeys. 

Menopause and perimenopause—the four to 10-year period in which the body prepares itself for menopause—are associated with a host of symptoms, from hot flashes and a low libido, to disrupted sleep and increased feelings of agitation. 

We tapped our resident nutritionist Colleen Coffey, MS, RDN, LDN, to discuss what’s happening biologically during these times, and how to better manage symptoms through nutrition and lifestyle choices.


What is Perimenopause?

During the phase known as perimenopause, the body prepares itself for menopause by gradually turning off the ovaries. Progesterone (the hormone responsible for prepping the uterus for pregnancy) levels fall, along with testosterone. Meanwhile, estrogen (the sex hormone in charge of regulating everything from menstrual cycles to the cardiovascular system) becomes dominant in relation to progesterone, and this fluctuates throughout perimenopause. 

The drastic hormonal teeter-totter and dominance of estrogen can lead to symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, night sweats, and uncomfortable uterine fibroids. If estrogen is reabsorbed, and not extricated by the liver or gut, these symptoms can worsen—which is where lifestyle and diet come in. Our choices during perimenopause, starting with what we eat, can help influence what’s to come during menopause.


Eating To Support Perimenopause, Menopause, and Beyond

A healthy microbiome is essential for helping flush out excess estrogen. We can nourish a diverse and thriving microbiome by opting for more gut-friendly prebiotics, resistant starches (like oats, beans, and legumes), probiotics, fiber-rich plants, and fermented foods. Meanwhile, we should try to lessen our intake of sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and antibiotics. 

To help further alleviate symptoms, look to organic, plant-rich nutrition (like our Signature Nutrition Program), with an abundance of hormone-balancing plant protein and lubricative healthy fats; digestion-enhancing, water-rich produce; and crunchy, sulfur-rich, cruciferous vegetables and bitter greens for liver support and estrogen metabolism. A steaming cup of our Digestive or Sleep Tea also contains symptom-soothing ingredients, like gentian and fennel, or valerian and catnip, respectively.


Addressing the Adrenals to Relieve Menopause Symptoms

It’s not just our hormones that need balancing, but our adrenals (the glands that control our stress response) too. In our go, go, go society, adrenal fatigue and dysfunction is a common occurrence—manifesting in feelings of burnout, brain fog, and body aches. During perimenopause, our sex hormones and ovaries have quieted down and our adrenals can’t make estrogen as they once did, which can lead to fat tissues taking over in producing hormones (which is why some may experience stubborn fat buildup during this time). 

Stress management—like carving out time for breathwork and joyful movement—is essential for reducing adrenal dysfunction and putting the onus back on the adrenals to make estrogen (rather than fat). Nutrition can also help our adrenals adapt to this change. A variety of mushrooms can benefit your body and mind through this transition, like calming reishi, digestion-enhancing turkey tail, and kidney- and HPA axis-supporting cordyceps, a key ingredient in our Energy Protein Super Bar. Our Beauty Water Drops are also a great adrenal support sidekick, remineralizing your body on the cellular level and encouraging well-balanced pathways.


What Menopause Really Means

One year without menstruating marks the “official” start of menopause. Hormone levels remain low, but we can continue to support them through our everyday choices—reducing toxin exposure and nourishing with organic, plant-powered meals; incorporating hormone-friendly activities; and getting restorative ZZZs through resetting our circadian rhythm. Continuing to manage stress is also imperative, as chronic stress can result in insulin resistance, which can be harmful to metabolism and mood. 

While some symptoms may linger, most subside and this phase comes as a breath of fresh air to many. After working through difficult moments, and discovering what tools and resources support us best, we come out on the other side with newfound self-connection, body intelligence, and ownership of our own bodies. In Japan, this postmenopausal period is referred to as “konenki,” a time of renewal and energy; and a time to explore new talents and embark on adventures. 

A beautiful metamorphosis can unfold when we stop resisting change and lean into the transition, trusting that our bodies are well-equipped to handle what's to come—unearthing a sense of freedom, confidence, and clarity in the process.

Filed Under: Alleviate menopause symptoms, Best foods for menopause, Best foods for perimenopause, Clean eating meal plan

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