Skin care in menopause
Thank you to Puremess for the opportunity to write a guest blog and to share one of my recipes!
I am a Registered Nutritionist, Health Coach and female hormone expert. I help women struggling with hormones and the menopausal transition to achieve balance, so that they can feel energised and empowered to be their best self in all aspects of life.
I am a realist who loves chocolate and nut butter! My advice is centred on finding long-term strategies that embrace delicious foods alongside finding balance through lifestyle medicine enabling clients to thrive.
Skin & the menopause
Going through menopause can often feel like we are reverting back to our teenage years. Hormonal fluctuations can affect our mood, weight, but also our skin. Acne that you thought you had put to bed in your early 20’s can often come back to haunt us. Either that or conditions such as rosacea or autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis can pop out of nowhere or persist with even more dogged determination than before.
Fluctuating and declining hormone levels can contribute to dry, slack, wrinkly and thinner skin with lacklustre hair that either starts falling out or sprouting up in parts of your body that are not welcome!
Why is diet important for skin health?
There is a big connection between our gut and skin health. What we are eating can really impact our ability to manage the symptoms experienced on our skin. I work with perimenopausal clients who are experiencing symptoms of acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea and my work always begins with a deep dive into gut health.
The efficiency with which our gut digests and absorbs our food is often predetermined by what we are feeding it. Our skin is very much influenced by food intake too but also hormones. Where are these hormones made and metabolised? Many are in the gut!
Working on optimal skin health therefore means working on balancing your gut health and in turn balancing your hormones.
Balancing hormones for skin health
So which hormones are important to balance for skin health? In order that our skin health is optimised, we need to look at balancing our sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone) alongside our adrenal (stress) hormones, our thyroid hormones but importantly our blood sugar hormone – insulin. During the menopausal transition, our sensitivity to insulin becomes weaker and it is important that we work on a blood sugar balancing diet. If we can start balancing these hormones, we are doing to start optimising our skin health.
What diet is the best for skin during the menopause?
When we are eating right during the menopause we will experience energy, good mood, optimal brain function, sex drive, fat burning capacity but importantly glowing skin!
In order to feed your gut (and therefore your hormones) the nourishment it requires for excellent skin health, I suggest you work on increasing the following:
Many of the menopausal women I see are low in protein and this is fundamental as the amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks for collagen and elastin – integral to skin health. Aim to have protein at each meal, particularly breakfast, in the form of organic meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds or legumes. Meat based proteins are particularly high in vitamin A which is vital for skin health.
- Slow release carbohydrates
Optimal skin health requires us to balance our menopausal hormones. This means focusing on carbohydrates that are slower to release. These include brown varieties of bread, pasta and rice but also root vegetables, beans, pulses and fruits low on the glycaemic index.
- Rainbow of fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables
Eating the rainbow is a wonderful way of increasing your levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients that your skin will love you for! In particular, focus on cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, swiss chard and cauliflower which are all high in I3C which helps with the detoxification of used oestrogen and leads to better hormonal balance.
Fibre is wonderful for our guts, helping to feed our friendly gut bugs. It also aids in the removal of toxins and excess hormones by encouraging regular bowel movement. This will mean that toxins are going out through our digestive system rather than our skin, improving the clarity and vitality of our skin. You can increase your fibre through vegetables, nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc which is fundamental to skin and gut health.
- Healthy fats
Consuming healthy fats is vital for skin health and particularly during menopause when our skin tends to dry out and become less plump and elastic. Many women avoid fatty foods due to concerns about weight increasing round the middle but when eating the right fats in the right way this will not happen. Some fats are essential as our body cannot make them – this includes omega 3. Try to eat oily fish at least 3 times a week (e.g – sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring) or a vegetarian source of omega 3 such as ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp and walnuts. See my gorgeous mid-week recipe which is filled with excellent levels of omega 3!
Phytoestrogens such as fermented soy, flaxseeds and certain organic fruits and vegetables act as adaptogens in the body. This means they can either increase oestrogen by mimicking it or decrease it when levels are toxic in the body. These have been shown to improve age-related changes like thinning skin.
Collagen synthesis sharply declines after menopause which can cause a reduction in skin thickness. Phytonutrients that are high in vitamin C and foods high in zinc support the production of collagen so work at including these in your diet e.g. shell fish, pumpkin seeds, citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers. Bone broth is high in collagen and glutamine, both of which support our gut lining and also our skin.
Our skin and our body in general needs plenty of water to function well. Aim to drink 2 litres of filtered water a day which can include herbal teas or naturally flavoured water. This is such a simple suggestion that can really impact our wellbeing.
Whilst working hard on increasing these food groups, for optimal skin, gut and hormonal health you need to look at reducing foods that are not serving you well. It would be wise to work on decreasing the following:
Sugar contributes to hormonal fluctuations and encourages skin issues. When sugar binds to proteins in our body, advanced glycation end products are formed which leads to wrinkle, sagginess and a loss of radiance. Avoid sweets, biscuits, cake and sugary drinks where possible and reach for slow release carbohydrates instead.
In addition to alcohol containing sugar it can add extra strain on the liver when it should be in optimal health to recycle spent hormones and toxins. If it isn’t, toxins will try to exit through the skin potentially causing problems.
For those sensitive to coffee, it can lead to cortisol disruption which has a big impact on sex hormone balance. Get a genetic test to find out if this is you! I offer this as part of my services. Look at introducing green tea, a slow release caffeine and a powerful antioxidant or focusing on coffee brands that are high in either antioxidants or include brain boosting adaptagens too.
- Processed foods
Processed foods are full of preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners, all of which disrupt hormone balance and skin health. Try to eat a diet rich in wholesome, organic foods.
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Omega 6 from fried foods, vegetable oil, dairy and non-organic meat can cause our ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 to become unbalanced. To ensure we are getting the benefit of omega 3 we need to ensure our intake of omega 6 is limited.
By putting in more of the good stuff and limiting the less good, you will be working towards better gut health, balanced hormones and importantly, glowing and radiant skin!
Making dietary changes to support skin health and the menopausal transition on your own can be hard. To find out if a bespoke one to one support package with a registered Nutritionist and health coach could benefit you, please book a free 30-minute exploratory call here – https://p.bttr.to/3rdrPYg
You can also reach me on the following channels:
Get my FREE hormone balancing smoothie recipe guide to support your skin health here - https://www.subscribepage.com/l7b0h1
Mid-week supper recipe to support skin & perimenopause.
This recipe is high in omega 3 and antioxidants that will support glowing skin!
2 tsp olive oil
2 salmon fillets
6 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces
12 cherry tomatoes
200g long-stemmed broccoli, trimmed
1 tbsp tamari
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes (optional)
2 tsp sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Drizzle a baking tray with olive oil.
- Place the salmon fillets onto the tray, skin side down. Add the
spring onions and tomatoes and season with black pepper. Bake
for 8 minutes.
- Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven and add the broccoli. Drizzle
the tamari and sesame oil over the fish and sprinkle everything
with the chilli flakes and sesame seeds.
- Return to the oven for 4-5 minutes or until the salmon is just