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PMS – What, Why & How to Ease the Symptoms

What is known is that PMS does not occur before the onset of the first period, during pregnancy or after natural or surgical menopause. Although the precise cause remains elusive, ovulation appears to be an important factor, with evidence suggesting that the symptoms are generally a result of changes in brain chemistry triggered by fluctuations in ovarian hormones. Both oestrogen and progesterone levels generally fall sharply before a period and this sudden change is thought to trigger PMS.

The symptoms and side effects of PMS can be managed and lessened through the food we eat. Patrick says one of the fundamental principles for managing PMS for most women is to eat meals and snacks providing both proteins and carbohydrates. See below further nutrition tips from Patrick to help you manage your symptoms.

Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates

One of the most important dietary factors for balancing hormones is to keep your blood sugar levels even. Eat plenty of complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains (oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread and pasta, millet), beans (lentils, soya beans, kidney beans etc) and plenty of vegetables. Cut out all refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and rice, cakes, biscuits and sweets and any foods containing added sugar (check labels as this will be more foods than you think – even bread, for example, often has sugar added to it).

Get the right 5 a day

While eating plenty of fruit and vegetables has many benefits, vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are especially beneficial for PMS sufferers as they contain a substance called di-indoly-methane (DIM). DIM has been shown to mop up excess oestrogen and therefore relieve the associated problems such as weight gain, PMS, acne and menopausal symptoms.

Out with the bad fats, in with the good.

Cut back on ‘bad’ saturated and hydrogenated fats (found in meat, dairy products and processed foods such as cakes, biscuits and junk food) as these have no nutritional value. Replace these fats with the essential fats found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. These good fats are especially important for menstruating women as they help to prevent inflammation and reduce abnormal blood clotting. Cutting out saturated fats should also help to reduce the headaches, menstrual cramps and endometriosis discomfort PMS sufferer’s experience.

Bulk up with fibre

Not only does fibre help with digestion and reduce cholesterol levels, but it also plays a key role in balancing female hormones. Fibre found in vegetables, fruit and whole grains can absorb excess oestrogen in the gut and prevent it from re-entering the blood. Oat fibre of whole oats or rough oat cakes is particularly good.

Cut the caffeine

Caffeine not only removes vital minerals and vitamins from your body due to its diuretic effect, but it is linked to PMS, in particular breast pain and tenderness. Caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks and headache tablets is a stimulant, which means it will also affect blood sugar levels and lead to rapid peaks and troughs in energy levels. We would recommend cutting out all caffeine and replacing with alternatives such as herbal and fruit teas and coffee substitutes

And the alcohol…

The liver is one of the key organs for controlling and balancing hormones as this is where excess hormones can be removed. If the liver is over-taxed by a poor diet and alcohol, this elimination will not occur as effectively.

Female Balance.

Female Balance is a unique supplement design, based on years of research and formulated by Patrick specifically to assist women with hormone imbalances.  Female Balance contains the essential PMS-combating vitamins, herbs and minerals namely B Vitamins, magnesium, black cohosh, isoflavons, red clover and folic acid.

Female Balance forms part of Patrick Holford’s Body Range is available from Dis-chems and leading health stores and pharmacies countrywide.