My periods have become really irregular recently. Is this the menopause starting already? Kathryn, 43

This could be the menopause starting as your hormones can start to decline in your 40s and this stage is called the perimenopause. What you eat at this stage can make the difference between having a difficult or easy time of it. 

Pay particular attention to adding phytoestrogens to your diet as these foods will help cushion the effects of the hormone rollercoaster as you go through the perimenopause. These include soya, plus chickpeas, lentils, flaxseeds and kidney beans. We know that women who eat a diet rich in phytoestrogens have significantly fewer hot flushes, up to half the amount experienced by women who eat very few phytoestrogens.

I also always recommend that women take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral to prepare for and during the menopause. Also, take a good omega-3 fish oil supplement, as deficiencies of this can cause similar symptoms to those that may occur leading up to the menopause.

Our natural health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is a nutritionist specialising in women’s health.