Let’s talk about the importance of hormone health, how and why it affects us and what we can do to redress the balance.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects approximately 80% women to varying degrees during the 7-14 days before their period begins.
The female body is constantly changing throughout the menstrual cycle and many of us are aware of different feelings, mood and needs at different times of the month.
Why is this happening? The endocrine system (hormones) is very complex with many little intricacies giving cause to hormonal imbalances, below I have listed the most common causes:
- Hormonal imbalance – an excess of oestrogen and inadequate progesterone.
- Unstable blood sugar – leading to cravings and mood swings.
- Poor nutrition – the body is missing nutrients that help balance hormones and ease inflammation and cramping and there may be an excess of foods that aggravate this condition.
- Poor liver function – this may be an overload of toxins such as coffee, processed foods, medication or alcohol. The liver has the role of breaking down and eliminating hormones to prevent their re-absorption.
As a woman your are probably familiar with the symptoms listed below:
Acne, anger, anxiety, bloating, backache, breast tenderness, cramps, cravings, crying for no particular reason, depression, general lack of energy and motivation, fainting, irritability, mood swings and over-spending.
What to do? There are some simple steps your take to help your body finds it’s natural hormonal balance again, please see below for suggested foods to avoid and why:
- Alcohol – can further upset the blood sugar balance, accelerate nutrient loss, increase levels of oestrogen and overload the liver.
- Caffeine – linked to increased breast tenderness and can make you more anxious and jittery. Caffeine can also hinder nutrient absorption especially minerals such as magnesium that can help alleviate cramping and balance blood sugar levels.
- Dairy – can increase the body’s oestrogen levels due to the growth hormones often found in dairy and block the absorption of magnesium, which is particularly important at this time to help ease cramping. For those who are unable to digest dairy products there may be digestive discomfort and excess gas.
- Salt – excess especially from processed foods can contribute to cramping, bloating and water retention.
- Sugars and refined foods – they upset the blood sugar balance and deplete the body of nutrients whilst giving nothing back.
Increasing the following foods will give your body a good chance at reducing circulation oestrogens:
- A good daily variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, essential for vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- Do not go hungry! This is will do nothing for your mood, everything seem 100 times worse on a grumbling tummy. Eat little and often, around every 4 hours.
- Whole grains help to balance blood sugar by releasing energy steadily and they are a source of fibre needed to clear out old hormones and toxins.
- Essential fats such as nuts; seeds, oily fish, avocado and eggs help reduce the inflammatory response and balance hormones.
- Daily exercise, a brisk walk a day is better than nothing, but aim to make it a regular part of your lifestyle, choose something you enjoy. It can enhance blood flow to the pelvic area and lessen bloating and cramping.
Knowing what to expect from each monthly cycle is half the battle won, plan your month using the below tips and incorporating some the above advice and see what a difference small changes can make to you life.
Plan your Month
Days 1-7 (menstruation)
- Include gentle, regular exercise – this helps with circulation, particularly to the pelvic area and helps to balance hormones and ease cramps.
- This is a time when the skin can be especially sensitive, so not a good time for a leg wax, try a massage instead.
Days 8-14 (pre-ovulation)
- The time you are feeling your sexiest – go on a date or seduce your partner.
- This is a good time for planning and making phone calls as your verbal co-ordination is enhanced.
Days 15-21 (post-ovulation)
- Incorporate some laughter into your day, be it a friend, a movie or a book – get those endorphins flowing.
- Make sure you take time out for yourself. This might be as simple as a long soak in the bath with those magazines you have been meaning to read.
Days 22-28 (premenstrual)
- Your energy levels may flag a little here, don’t make this an excuse to give into cravings, ensure you have adequate sleep, relaxation and exercise.
- Pain? What pain? This is the best time for waxing, or a deep tissue massage, you’ll be able to handle pain better at this stage.
…and it starts all over again.