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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Perimenopause and plant-based foods

Hi, I’m Jo Leccacorvi, Registered Nutritional Therapist, and I’m here to tell you to eat your vegetables. Yes, I did just tell you to eat more vegetables.




 

I love vegetables, I think they are exciting, they taste amazing, and they can help support you with your perimenopause symptoms. Plant based foods include vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and legumes.

 

Gut Bacteria: Including plant-based foods in your everyday diet during perimenopause can promote a diverse and thriving gut microbiome. Rich in fibre, plant-based foods provide a nourishing environment for beneficial bacteria, supporting digestive health and potentially alleviating symptoms like bloating and irregular bowel movements.

 

Blood Sugar Balance: Vegetables, with their complex carbohydrates and fibre, play a crucial role in stabilising blood sugar levels. This can be particularly beneficial during perimenopause when hormonal fluctuations may contribute to insulin sensitivity. A steady blood sugar balance may help to reduce mood swings and energy crashes.

 

Hormone Production: Essential vitamins and minerals found in plant-based foods actively contribute to hormone production during perimenopause. Incorporating sources rich in vitamin B6, such as chickpeas and bananas, supports serotonin production, aiding mood regulation. Additionally, minerals like zinc and magnesium, abundant in legumes and leafy greens, play a vital role in the production of various hormones.

 

Energy Production: The vitamins and minerals found in vegetables are crucial for energy production. Magnesium, found in leafy greens and nuts, facilitates ATP synthesis, the body's energy currency. Additionally, B-vitamins, prevalent in whole grains and legumes, are integral in converting food into energy. Fatigue is a common symptom during perimenopause so it is vital that you are giving your body what it needs to support the production of energy. 

 

Phytoestrogens: Phytoestrogens, naturally occurring compounds in plant-based foods, have oestrogen-like properties in the body. Including soy products, flaxseeds, and legumes can provide a gentle and natural source of phytoestrogens, potentially alleviating perimenopausal symptoms. Phytoestrogens interact with oestrogen receptors, offering a balancing effect that may help reduce hot flushes, mood swings, and other hormonal fluctuations.

 

But how do you include more vegetable in your everyday diet?

There are many ways to increase your vegetable intake, so if you are unsure read on to see how you can do this:

 

  • Vegetables do not have to be boring and rather than boil them to death (yuk!) you can cook them in many different ways. For example, you can experiment with different cooking methods such as roasting, grilling or sautéing.

  • If you find it a faff, peeling and/or chopping you can buy ready sliced veg from the supermarkets or consider buying frozen vegetables. Or if you prefer fresh vegetables consider investing in a food processer that can slice, dice, grate or julienne vegetables for you.

  • Adding vegetables to soups.

  • Swapping pasta for vegetable alternatives, such as, spiralized vegetables (carrots, courgette, parsnips, squash) or using aubergines slices in lasagne. Cauliflower can made into mash, ‘rice’ (using a grater), can be used in a pizza base, and it tastes delicious roasted with your favourite seasonings.

  • You can add vegetables to sauces. For example, if making a Bolognese you can add red peppers, onions, carrots.

  • You can add vegetables to smoothies, for example, carrots, spinach, kale, cucumber, avocado or beetroot. The options are endless!

  • If you’re making a casserole you can add extra vegetables to this.

  • Omelettes are another way to get more vegetables into you diet. You can add onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes or any of your favourite vegetables.

  • You can also swap your refined sugar based snacks for vegetables. For example, vegetable sticks with houmous, nut butter. You can also make dips with vegetables and beans

 

From supporting your gut health to aiding hormonal and energy production, plant-based foods offer many benefits during the perimenopause. If you are unsure if you are perimenopausal or would like to speak to your GP about your symptoms then click here to download my free eBook, How to Talk to Your GP About Your Perimenopause Symptoms So They Will Take You Seriously.

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