Q: Ever since I entered perimenopause, I’ve been moody, irritable and bloated—it’s like I’m PMS-ing all the time. Could changing what I eat help me feel normal again?
A: To quickly ease your perimenopause symptoms—plus correct the hormonal imbalances that trigger them in the first place—we recommend a two-pronged strategy:
(1) Start your day with 1 cup of cooked oatmeal or an oat-spiked smoothie. The soluble fiber and lignans in this grain work to balance estrogen levels. Mayo Clinic researchers report that this effect can reduce unpleasant symptoms such as mood swings and fatigue by up to 57 percent.
(2) Fill your plate with foods rich in vitamin B6 (such as turkey, tuna, spinach and sweet potatoes). This nutrient has natural diuretic properties that prompt the kidneys to flush excess water weight for instant bloat relief. Plus, B6 increases the production of the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine to improve mood. For an easy way to speed slimming, we suggest enjoying 1 to 2 cups of yerba maté tea (available at healthfood stores and Amazon.com) daily. Made from South American holly tree leaves, this earthy brew contains a trio of thermogenic plant compounds (chlorogenic acid, theobromine and theophylline) that fire up metabolism and spur cells to preferentially burn fat for fuel. In a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, this helped yerba maté drinkers shrink their fat stores by 16 percent in 16 weeks without making any other diet changes. That’s the equivalent of 32 pounds of fat for a 200-pound woman!
Another boon: Plant compounds in yerba maté suppress the output of the hunger hormone ghrelin and improve sensitivity to the blood sugar–regulating hormone insulin. This helps curb appetite enough to cut calorie intake by 10 percent.