Julia FitzGerald (The FitFarms Nutritional Therapist)
As many as nine out of 10 women are affected by PMS or menstrual symptoms. More heartening is news that, for many, diet can make all the difference.
Looking after your digestive system is important because excess hormones are broken down by the liver and excreted. If constipated, some hormones may be reabsorbed.Getting the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day ensures a good intake of nutrients, along with valuable fibre to avoid bowel problems. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
For stubborn symptoms, look after your blood sugar levels by eating regularly and reducing your intake of salt, sugar and caffeine. Also try to include the following key nutrients in your diet.
Magnesium, nature’s tranquilliser, helps reduce anxiety and relieve muscle cramps and may also reduce fluid retention. Eat wholegrains, soya beans, seeds and nuts, or try adding a cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate, available from most chemists) to a warm bath along with your favourite oils. During a relaxing soak, you’ll absorb the magnesium through your skin.
Vitamin B6 helps to process dietary fats and proteins. It is also needed to produce feelgood brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. The best sources are salmon, calf’s liver, potatoes, peanuts, bananas, green lentils and red peppers.
Healthy fats have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and also play a role in blood clotting. To increase your intake, consume nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado and oily fish.
Some women also benefit from a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplement. This is an essential fatty acid found in evening primrose oil and borage oil.