Do you experience mood swings, tender breasts, acne, bloating, food cravings, fatigue, irritability or depression at the time of the month? These are some of the many symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – over 100 of which have been identified. If you do, you are not alone – it is thought that as many as 75% of menstruating women suffer from symptoms and in many they have the potential to effect their relationships, work life and well-being.
Typically the symptoms start at some point during the 2 weeks leading up to your period and disappear shortly after it starts.
Whilst the exact cause of PMS remains unknown it is widely believed that the fluctuations in female hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) that occurs prior to our period may trigger the symptoms. In addition, these changes in our hormone balance appear to reduce the activity of our feel good brain chemical serotonin which can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, depression and food cravings.
Top dietary tips for reducing symptoms of PMS
Manage blood sugar levels – essential for supporting overall hormone balance. Eat regular meals and include lean protein (eg chicken, fish, egg, nuts, seeds) and complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, fruit, veg) at each meal.
Be kind to your liver – include foods that support the production of bile such as watercress, beetroot as well as those that support the detoxification of hormones such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and flaxseed.
Promote healthy bowels – increasing your fibre intake by including lots of whole grains and fruit and vegetables will help to stimulate healthy bowel movements ensuring effective elimination of used hormones, promoting hormone balance
Reduce your intake of animal foods (meat and dairy) and replace it with fibre rich foods plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Plant based diets have been associated with improved hormone balance.
Include phytoestrogens in your diet. These foods contain molecules that are able to mimic the action of oestrogen in the body and have been found to have a hormone balancing effect when oestrogen levels are high (which is commonly the case in PMS). Foods that contain phytoestrogens include soya foods, flax seeds, beans and root vegetables.
Cut back on caffeine – Both the presence of PMS symptoms and the severity of those symptoms have been associated with caffeine consumption. Caffeine will also play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Make friends with herbal teas such as raspberry leaf tea or chamomile tea.
Reduce your salt intake In general it’s a good idea to avoid salt but its particularly important if you experience symptoms of fluid retention
Don’t drink alcohol – it puts stress on the liver and interferes with blood sugar balance both of which contribute to symptoms of PMS. On top of which the symptoms of PMS feel so much worse when coupled with a hangover.
At Crabtree Nutrition we offer one to one consultations to help you get your health back on track with food. If you are interested in booking a consultation to discuss your hormone balance, or any other health concerns, or simply want to find out more information on how nutritional therapy can help you please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org