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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Fat: A perimenopausal woman’s secret weapon

As you navigate the perimenopause it is important to prioritise your health and nutrition as this can have a profound effect on the severity of your symptoms. Today I am going to focus on fat and what perimenopausal women need to know, bust some myths and give you some practical tips.

Understanding Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a natural transitional phase that women typically experience in their 40s or 50s. During this time, the ovaries gradually produce less oestrogen, leading to various hormonal changes in the body. Understanding the impact of perimenopause is crucial for women's overall health and well-being, as it can influence several aspects of their lives.

Hormonal shifts that occur during perimenopause can have a direct impact on metabolism and body composition. Oestrogen plays a significant role in regulating metabolism, and as its levels decline, the body's metabolic rate may slow down. This reduced metabolism can contribute to weight gain and make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.

Furthermore, the hormonal changes of perimenopause can affect body composition, specifically the distribution of fat. Many women notice an increase in abdominal fat during this phase, commonly referred to as "menopause belly" or "menopausal midsection." This shift in fat distribution is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.

However, it is important to note that perimenopause affects each woman differently. While some may experience significant metabolic changes and various unpleasant symptoms, other women may not be affected in the same way. Individual factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health can influence the degree to which perimenopause impacts women.

Considering the impact of perimenopausal symptoms and on metabolism, it becomes vital to focus on nutrition during this transitional phase. A balanced and healthy diet, including adequate amounts of essential nutrients, is essential for supporting overall well-being and managing potential changes related to perimenopause. In particular, the role of dietary fat in women's health during this phase cannot be overlooked.

Types of Dietary Fat

When it comes to dietary fat, it's important to understand the different types and their impact on your health. There are three main types of dietary fat: saturated, unsaturated (which includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), and trans fats.

Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products such as meat, full-fat dairy, and butter. While it's essential to consume saturated fats in moderation, excessive intake may increase the risk of heart disease and negatively affect cholesterol levels.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are considered heart-healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats can be found in foods like avocados, olive oil, and nuts, while polyunsaturated fats are abundant in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. These fats are beneficial for cardiovascular health, help reduce inflammation, and support hormone production.

Trans fats are artificial fats primarily found in processed and fried foods. These fats should be avoided as they raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while lowering good cholesterol (HDL), increasing the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

The Importance of Fat for Perimenopausal Women

Dietary fat plays a crucial role in supporting the health and well-being of perimenopausal women. Here are some reasons why fat is important during this phase:

Hormone Production and Balance: Fats are essential for hormone synthesis. Perimenopause is characterized by a decline in oestrogen levels, and consuming sufficient healthy fats can help support hormone production and balance. Healthy fats aid in the production of hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone, which contribute to maintaining bone health, regulating mood, and managing menopausal symptoms.

Brain Health and Cognition: Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, are beneficial for brain health and cognitive function. These fats are found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds. Including these sources of healthy fats in the diet can support memory, concentration, and overall brain health during perimenopause. If you are experiencing brain fog and unable to recall certain words or people’s names then seriously consider if you are getting enough omega three in your diet.

Nutrient Absorption: Certain vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, meaning they require fat for absorption in the body. Adequate fat intake ensures the absorption of these essential nutrients, which are crucial for maintaining overall health, supporting bone density, and boosting the immune system. Both vitamin A and vitamin E help regulate your sex hormones. Vitamin A regulates the female sex hormones and supports regular reproductive cycles. Vitamin E regulates your hormones and helps your libido so you feel sexy and energetic! Ohh la la!

Healthy Fat Sources

Including healthy fat sources in your diet during perimenopause is vital for reaping their benefits. Here are some examples of nutritious fat sources:

Monounsaturated Fats: Avocados, olive oil, almonds, cashews, and peanuts are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated Fats: Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybean oil.

Limited Saturated Fats: While saturated fats should be limited, some options include lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products, and plant-based saturated fats like coconut oil (in moderation).

Incorporating a variety of these healthy fats into your everyday diet can help provide the necessary nutrients and support your overall well-being during perimenopause.

Balancing Fat Intake

Maintaining a balance in fat intake is essential. While fat is important, it must be consumed in moderation. Here are some general guidelines for balancing fat intake:

Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes, especially with calorie-dense fat sources like nuts and oils. Although healthy, these foods are high in calories, so portion control is key.

Balanced Meals: Incorporate a variety of macronutrients in your meals, including proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This balance promotes satiety, supports energy levels, and provides a diverse range of nutrients.

Cooking Methods: Choose healthier cooking methods like grilling, baking, steaming, or sautéing instead of deep-frying. This reduces the amount of added fats and oils in your meals.

By adopting these strategies, you can enjoy the benefits of dietary fat while maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet during perimenopause.

Myth busting around fats

There are several misconceptions surrounding dietary fat that need to be addressed, especially during perimenopause. Let's debunk a few common myths:

All Fat Is Unhealthy: While unhealthy fats like trans fats and excessive saturated fats should be limited, healthy fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and offer numerous health benefits.

Fat Causes Weight Gain: Excess calorie intake from any macronutrient, including fat, can contribute to weight gain. However, healthy fats, when consumed in moderation, are not the sole cause of weight gain. Balancing overall calorie intake and engaging in regular physical activity are crucial for weight management.

Low-Fat Diets Are Optimal: Following an extremely low-fat diet is not recommended, as fats are necessary for various bodily functions. Instead, focus on consuming healthy fats in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

As you can see, dietary fat plays an essential role in supporting the health and well-being of perimenopausal women. From hormone production and balance to brain health and nutrient absorption, incorporating the right types of fats into your diet is essential.

Remember to focus on healthy fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Be mindful of portion sizes and balance your fat intake with other nutrients. By addressing common misconceptions and embracing a balanced approach, you can make positive choices to support your health and well-being during this transformative phase of life.

If you are serious about prioritising your nutrition to support your health and well-being during the perimenopause, why don’t you get in contact with me for a free no obligation chat? Click here to book.

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