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5 Things To Do In Perimenopause

5 Things To Do In Perimenopause

I'm Dr. Amy Shah, and this is save yourself with Dr. Amy. No one is coming to save you. You have to get up and save yourself. This is the place where we present the science, the tips, the tricks. My personal clinical experience as a double board certified md and nutritionist on ways that we can learn to save ourselves. Five steps to a better perimenopause.
I'm Dr. Amy Shah, and welcome back. This is episode number four. I can't believe we've already gone through four episodes. This is the fourth one. So, so grateful that all of you have been listening and for the feedback and get ready for another big one today. So want to thank truly. First of all, because they're the first sponsors for my podcast, they have this amazing wellness shot that has turmeric and ginger and black pepper.
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Dr. Shaw, 50 and you get 50% off, which is an amazing deal. Thank you so much to truly because I gave you the feedback and you supported me on this journey. So thanks you. And let's get into it. The five top tips for perimenopause. So what is perimenopause? That's a big question. I think a lot of women are asking, or men, too, because perimenopause is never really defined in the literature and the media.
Perimenopause is the years before you hit menopause, and that can start as early as your late thirty s and go all the way into your. It's a huge. I mean, think about it. It can be a 20 year time frame. So people experience symptoms between ten to 20 years in perimenopause and can tell you that I'm personally in that perimenopausal zone, and it's not fun. There's a lot of things that happen that nobody really explains to you. There's a lot of nutritional things that we could be doing. And when I went to nutrition school, we never talked about menopause or perimenopause.
I didn't even know what those words meant until long after. So I'm trying to clear up the confusion and give you the steps so that you can live your best life. So if you're in your want to listen to this now, the other thing is you can't really diagnose perimenopause. So a lot of people will say, well, how do you even know? You don't know. You just basically know. Based on your symptoms of fatigue, irregular periods, you may have mood changes, you may be noticing some weight gain, you may not be noticing a lot of changes at all. But these things are still going to be really helpful for when they may appear. For example, 75% of people eventually have some kind of vasomotor symptoms, whether it be hot flashes or night sweats.
So you may do the things that I'm talking to you about today and prevent yourself from having a bad perimenopausemenopause. So this is really exciting. I think this is a topic that doesn't get talked about enough. In fact, when you look at the menopause textbooks, there's really not a section on nutrition. They're sprinkled in between everything. But I really think that this is an area that needs more focus. So I hope I'm going to give you some actionable tips, some steps that you can take to live a better life and have really a blossoming of your life during this time, rather than making it so painful and a time that you want to forget. Step number one, activate those heat shock proteins.
Okay. You might be wondering, what the heck are heat shock proteins? These are the proteins that are released when your core body temperature goes up. So this is why sauna therapy has been really recommended for people who are getting older, because heat shock proteins, when they're produced, they're anti inflammatory, they are able to boost growth hormone, they're able to activate pathways in your body that help with aging. In fact, there are even data that things like sauna can help you prevent heart disease and overall death. So we have a lot of data from Finland. So in Finland, everyone uses a sauna. Sauna is like a part of life. How cool is that, right? I guess because it's so cold.
It's a big part of life. They have these dry saunas, which a lot of you might know that you have at the gym, and they go all the way up to like 167 degrees fahrenheit, and that seems to be the right temperature. And these people who sat in saunas for 30 minutes, the highest users. So people who use it four to seven times a week had a market decrease, like a 50% decrease in cardiovascular disease. They also had a boost in growth hormone. Some of the studies show up to 500% increase in the growth hormone. So let me explain to you why I would even recommend this in perimenopause. Like, aren't you so hot you want to be cold? Yes.
But heat shock proteins can be really antiinflammatory, and they can help you boost the growth hormone that you so badly need during perimenopause. As we get older, we have less and less growth hormone, and we really want to boost that up. That's what keeps our skin looking young, that's what keeps our muscles very healthy. That's what keeps us injury free. That's really like the youth hormone. Obviously, growth hormone can get abused. In sports, it's the hgh injections. That's why they're so great.
They help you heal, they help you feel better, they help you look younger. So your own growth hormone is released in your body, especially when you sleep, when you weight train, when you eat healthy, and when you produce heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are something that you can get through sauna therapy. So, like I said, 30 minutes, ideally four to seven times a week, or you can do other forms of heat therapy. So hot yoga counts. Steam room, infrared saunas, all these other types of modalities that produce heat shock proteins can be a great way to boost growth hormone and prevent cardiovascular disease and overall death. We're just finding out more and more statistics about how heat shock proteins can be really great for your health. So it's something that you can add to your life that's relatively inexpensive or free, depending on if you have a gym membership that has it, or if you go to a place that already has hot yoga, or you participate in a workout in hot weather.
These are all ways that you can produce heat shock proteins, even hot baths. So there's good data from Japan that japanese hot baths are really a good way to produce heat shock proteins. At about 103 degrees, soak for about 20 minutes. I mean, this is an easy way for us to be improving our health. So that's step number one. Step number two, get your gut bacteria involved. Okay, what does that even mean? We have a gut brain connection, and as we get older, our gut bacteria, these big communicators, the ones that hold walkie talkies and speak to our brain and our hormones and the rest of our body, they start to diminish. And we think they diminish because as we start to lose estrogen, they start to die off.
There's a change in your microbiome during the years of perimenopause and menopause, where your hormone levels are fluctuating. So now we have less of this amazing army that helps us take nutrients in from food, that communicates with our brain, with our other hormones, that even produces its own hormones. Yes, I said it. They produce their own hormones. They produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. I mean, these bacteria are amazing. They're literally our partners. However, when we go through perimenopause and menopause, we start to lose that gut bacteria.
And so one of the things that you can do, a step that you can do to really transform your health, is improve the levels and the diversity of your gut bacteria. The gut microbiome is all kinds of microbes, so fungi, viruses, bacteria, and it is communicating all the time with your brain, then the other parts of your body. So if you want to feel better, like improve your mood, your energy levels, your cravings, your long term health, you want to improve the gut bacteria, you want to increase the number and increase the diversity, especially during these years of perimenopause, what a lot of people feel, they end up gaining weight, they end up having low vitamin D levels, they end up having high cholesterol levels. And all of these changes seem to be linked back to the change in the gut microbiome. So then you might be wondering, well, how the heck do I improve my gut microbiome? There's several ways, one of which know in studies, you can transplant gut bacteria from one person to the other, called fecal transplant, that is banned in the US, except for one condition called c. Difficile, which is a very severe intestinal infection. But barring fecal transplants, the best way to change your gut bacteria is through your diet. Nutrition is king when it comes to changing your gut microbiome.
You want to feed the bacteria that you have, so you want to feed them fiber, particularly in fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and really whole foods. So basically everything but your fried, processed junk food. And then you want to feed them probiotics so other bacteria can join them. So what does probiotics mean? Oh, does it mean take a pill? No, not necessarily. In fact, we think that when probiotics come with food in the matrix of food, they're more likely to reach the gut where they need to go. And if you're taking them just by a pill, your body knows, like, oh, my gosh, she's swallowing a whole bunch of bacteria. Let's go kill it. So it largely gets killed before going into the gut.
And so really, the best way to get bacteria into your gut is by eating it through food. So fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, probiotic, cottage cheese, yogurt, kombucha are all great ways to get more bacteria in your gut. So fiber, fermented probiotic food. By the way, some fermented food is not probiotic. So, for example, pickles, once they pickle them, they put them straight in the fridge. They're no longer probiotic. Old time pickles didn't need their refrigeration. Sorry that they let them ferment without refrigeration.
They had probiotics, but now the new ones really do not. So you really want to get about two to four servings of fermented food. Probiotic food. Every single day. You want to be getting 30 grams of fiber plus. So minimum is 25 up to 35. 40 is great of fiber in your diet, and you want to get more protein in your diet. Protein is also another thing that gut bacteria love and that sends signals to your brain that you're full, especially if you're working on body composition goals.
You want to feel fuller, you want to build muscle. Adequate protein is really important. During perimenopause, we're losing a lot of protein. Sorry, losing a lot of muscle. And so you want to be replacing that with weight training and by eating adequate protein so you can build muscle during this time, you really want to kind of mediate the loss. And so building that gut microbiome is so important. Try not to take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them. Don't use antibacterial cleansers or cleaners or antibacterial mouthwash.
Actually, antibacterial mouthwash has been linked to hypertension because people who use antibacterial mouthwash are killing the bacteria in their mouth, which seems to be essential in managing blood pressure. So we really want to minimize how much we kill the bacteria. Back in the day, even when I was in medical school, we really just wanted to kill all the bacteria. We didn't recognize how significant they are in helping us. Now we want to build as much bacteria. So nature time, spending time outdoors. There's something about being outdoors, you just catch more bacteria. Being around healthy people is actually a great way to build microbiome.
So you're sharing food or just being around them. You share a microbiome with the people that you spend the most time with. So choose wisely. And these are ways that you can build that gut health so that your hormone levels are better, your body composition is better, your mood is better, your energy levels are better, and as you age, you're less likely to develop diseases of aging. So that's that. The number three step to a better perimenopause is walking. Walking, preferably outdoors. But walking is one of the best ways for you to actually optimize your metabolism, to improve your mental health, to get an activity that is not very stressful to the body.
So during perimenopause, you think of yourself as kind of in a stressed state, and your body is less resilient to more stressors. So you don't want to be layering on very stressful exercise, whatever that means to you. Stressful. For some people, doing a hit class is not that stressful. For others. You really want to minimize how many hit classes you do a week. Maybe just once a week is what I recommend to a lot of people, because at this time, you're kind of not as resilient to stress. So you want to focus on activities like walking, like nature walking, that really keep your stress levels low and make you feel energized and also give you activity.

One of the biggest reasons women gain weight during perimenopause is because they aren't moving as much. So when they looked at studies about why women are gaining weight, yes, of course, it has to do with the changing hormonal levels. But they also found that women tend to walk less during these years. They just tend to move less. Whether it's responsibilities, whether it's your brain being more tired because you're not sleeping as well, whatever it may be, people are just less active than they used to be. And so asking them to do more walking, getting 10,000 steps or more is a great way to improve your mental health, your physical health, and prevent yourself from gaining those menopausal pounds. Being outdoors is the best way to walk because you get the nature benefits. I'm always telling everyone to get sunlight in the morning.

And doing your walk while getting sunlight is the optimal way to do walking. In fact, I tell people to do three f morning. So one is being fasted twelve to 14 hours. Second is fitness. So morning fitness outdoors is ideal. And then the third is food. Like I mentioned to you, the fiber fermented, high protein food. So get your steps.

If you can't get steps, do it some other way. Swimming, biking, dancing, whatever it is. But low stress movement is one of the best ways that you can improve your symptoms and feel great during perimenopause. Step number four, improve your circadian rhythms. Remember, sun sleep. Circadian rhythms matter. Getting sunlight in the morning, the morning is the best time to get it. But really getting light, any time of day, is really helpful in resetting your circadian rhythms and sleep.

Adequate sleep and sleeping at the same time every night. You will be shocked at how much your mood and energy levels improve when you improve your circadian rhythms. During perimenopause. A lot of people have a lot of sleep disturbances, and they're not really sure how to boost their energy levels. So I think it's more important than ever to really time yourself with circadian rhythms. The science behind circadian biology is just fascinating. In fact, the Nobel Prize in Medicine a few years ago went to the scientists that uncovered how circadian rhythms really run about 80% of our genes. So almost everything runs on a circadian rhythm.

So everything, your brain, everything, your hormones, your gi tract, your muscles. So you really want to be minding your circadian rhythms. That means getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of natural light every day. It doesn't have to be sunny, it can just be cloudy, overcast, but getting that natural light and getting sleep every night. Darkness in the night. So that means really trying to improve your sleep hygiene. We can do a whole episode on sleep hygiene, honestly, but you really want it to be dark. Minimize those blue lights, minimize the bright overhead white light activity in the evening, and getting adequate sleep, seven to 9 hours every single night.

For a lot of women in Perimenopause, asking them to do every night is pretty hard. But let's say two to three good nights of sleep every single week will be a way for you to reset your system, improve your circadian rhythms. Going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time in the morning is so great for your circadian rhythms because they get synced. And when everything's in sync, it just works better. You feel energized, you feel happy. All your bodily functions work better. Some people even think of depression as a circadian rhythm disorder. So if you're dealing with anxiety or depression, or low mood and energy, improving your circadian rhythms is essential.
And number five, the last step to getting a better living, a better perimenopause, is food. Food and supplements. Okay, you knew I was going to talk about food and supplements because that's my specialty. Nutrition is where it's at. That's the needle mover for all of us. This is how you can change your gut health. This is how you can change your brain health. This is how you can change how you look, how you feel, your disease risk.
I mean, it's incredible how nutrition is so powerful. It's literally medicine for your body. So when you are trying to optimize your nutrition in perimenopause, here's the tenets. You want to have at least 25 grams of fiber. If not like 35 grams of fiber a day on a free app like myfitness pal, you can track how much fiber you're having and you want to be at that level. Protein. So you want to be between 0.8 to 1 gram per pound, ideal body weight. I know that sounds like a lot, but it's really what you need to build muscle.
If you're someone who has special medical problems, obviously check with your doctor. But for a vast majority of you, this should be helpful. You want to eat omega three fatty acids. So for me, I don't eat fish, so I take algae oil. You want to take up to 3 grams a day of that, okay, vitamin D. You want to get it through foods or you can take a supplement. Especially if you're low, you may need to take a supplement. Magnesium.

Having about 550 milligrams in your diet is really essential for the best brain health and the best bodily function. I mean, we need magnesium for brain health. It lowers our stress hormones, it relaxes us muscles. And hormonally it is so essential in perimenopause if you're taking a supplement. Magnesium glycinate is a great supplement to take during perimenopause. And you want to get a total of 550 with your food and supplements together. There's so many other things in perimenopause. The other thing of course is probiotic foods because we talked about the importance of gut health.

Spices like cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, ginger, all these spices are prebiotics. So really great for your gut health. And they also have polyphenols, just like tea and coffee and chocolate do as well. And these are also really great things to add to your diet. And I think that pretty much covers the nutrition during perimenopause, at least some of the essentials of nutrition. So I hope you found this helpful. The five steps to a better perimenopause. Not only am I kind of an expert in nutrition, I'm a medical doctor, but I'm also in that stage with you.

So I get it. It's not easy. And most society thinks of it as kind of like you're starting to become irrelevant in media, in movies and social media. Now there's a huge movement because I think women realize that there's so much more that they have left in them after menopause. And so there's this huge movement to really live optimally during this time so that you can do the things you've always wanted to do. You can be the person you always wanted to be. And when I coach people, I always tell them that this could be the best years of your life. Literally.

A lot of people feel this way. So thank you so much for listening, and stay tuned for another episode.