Female Health – from PMS to Menopause

For so many women, the symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and Menopause have become ones they just have to suffer and put up with. There are a wide range of symptoms for both of these hormonal conditions, which can vary in intensity, from person to person and they range from mild to debilitating. Thankfully there are plenty of things we can do to support our health and hormones, to help give ourselves the best chance of a smoother ride!
Whether you have PMS or are going through the Menopause, the symptoms are occurring because of a change in hormone balance.

The following dietary tips apply to both conditions and are the first step in balancing our hormones!

10 Top Dietary Tips for PMS and Menopause

1. Balance your blood sugar levels

  • Eat 3 meals a day but at regular intervals, avoiding big gaps between meals. Have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack if needed, to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Have protein with each meal and snack (include eggs, nuts, seeds & pulses as protein too).
  • Eat complex carbohydrates (eg wholegrain rice, oats, buckwheat, spelt, pulses and vegetables)
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates (eg biscuits, cake, pastry, crisps, white pasta and bread).
  • Reduce caffeine (eg coffee, tea, chocolate and some fizzy drinks)
  • Avoid sugar (and fruit juices)
  • Reduce alcohol

2. Eat organic wherever possible – to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones

3. Eat healthy fats, especially Omega 3 essential fatty acids: wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, mackerel and flax seeds. Also include other good fats: nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and olive oil in the diet

4. Reduce saturated animal fats – from red meat and cheeses

5. Eat a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables – more vegetables than fruit

6. Eat cruciferous vegetables -eg broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale

7. Eat plenty of fibre – eg fruit, vegetables, oats, lentils, flaxseeds, other seeds and wholegrains

8. Avoid anything artificial – preservatives, additives, sweeteners etc

9. Eat liver supporting foods – eg lemons, garlic, onions, leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, beetroot, artichoke, chicory, turmeric and eggs. Also drink 2 litres of water a day

10. Eat phytoestrogen rich foods – eg fermented soya products (miso, tempeh, tamari), flaxseeds, alfalfa, lentils, chickpeas, garlic, celery, oats and mung bean beansprouts.

What else can we do to support PMS and Menopause?

  • Reduce stress! – take time out / learn to say no / get outdoors and close to nature / gentle exercise/ time management. Stress has a knock on effect on all our hormones, as well as overall health, so it’s really worth addressing!
  • Get enough sleep– lack of sleep affects many functions including: moods, concentration and energy levels.
  • Exercise and include weight bearing activities– exercise helps increase the production of endorphins (chemicals released in the brain) to improve mood. It also boosts metabolism and supports heart health. Do weight bearing exercises to build and maintain strong bones.
  • Empty your bowels regularly – this is helped with fibre, water and exercise. Fibre helps to excrete excess oestrogens that the body doesn’t need any more, which is important for keeping female hormones balanced.
  • Support your liver – the liver breaks down hormones ready to be excreted. Follow the dietary advice above for foods to eat and drink plenty of water (ideally filtered or mineral). Start the day with hot water and lemon. Also reduce caffeine and alcohol as these also have to be broken down by the liver and we need to avoid over burdening it. Epsom salts in the bath may also help.
  • Avoid xenoestrogens where possible – these are found in plastics, pesticides, growth hormones, the lining of cans and it can be found in tap water too, coming from medications and hormone pills like HRT and the contraceptive pill. These xenoestrogens mimic oestrogen in the body so can disrupt our hormones. They are fat loving so are stored in our fat cells. Don’t store fatty foods eg cheese, in plastic wrap, don’t put food in plastic containers while it’s still hot and don’t re-heat food in plastic containers. Avoid water in soft, bendy plastic bottles.
  • Make changes now so you’re better prepared for the menopause! – start to address any hormonal imbalances now and you’ll give yourself a much better chance of having a smoother ride through the menopause.

PMS

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is an umbrella term used for the various symptoms that occur from just after ovulation up until a period starts. Symptoms are many, but include irritability / Anxiety / Depression / Mood swings / Water retention / Headaches / Migraines / Cravings (eg sugar) / Constipation / Bloating / Acne / Weight Gain

What can we take?

  • Vitamin B6 – contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity and has been shown in studies to reduce PMS symptoms
  • Magnesium – supports stress and is needed for energy. It’s also a muscle relaxant so supports muscle cramps. Studies show it works better for PMS symptoms when used in combination with B6
  • Omega 3 – supports the balance of hormones and is known to reduce inflammation. It is also vital for brain function (moods, concentration, focus etc). Especially useful to take if your diet doesn’t include much omega 3 (oily fish being a good source).
  • Evening Primrose Oil or Starflower Oil (providing GLA) – women have traditionally used this for many years to support PMS symptoms.
  • A good quality Multi-Vitamin – containing nutrients to support female hormone health such as: zinc, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, B6.
  • Australian Bush Flower Remedies – ‘Women’s Essence’ – a traditional flower remedy to support female emotions.

Menopause

This is a gradual and natural process that women go through as they transition from the fertile years through to the next phase of life. Symptoms can include hot flushes / night sweats / anxiety / mood swings / bladder frequency / headaches / vaginal dryness / decreased libido / weight gain / cognitive changes / fatigue / joint pains

Post-menopausal women are more at risk of certain conditions such as osteoporosis and heart conditions, so it’s important to look after bone and heart health too.

What can we take?

  • Sage – studies show it reduce hot flushes
  • Phytoestrogens – such as dong quai / red clover / sage / alfalfa / hops – these are plant oestrogens that exert a weak oestrogenic effect and have been shown to support the symptoms of menopause.
  • L-Theanine and Lemon Balm – L-Theanine supports a feeling of calm and supports stress and anxiety. Lemon Balm has traditionally been used in herbal medicine as a relaxant.
  • B Vitamins – important for energy levels and stress. B6 supports hormone balance.
  • Magnesium – needed to support stress levels, sleep and bone health.
  • Evening Primrose Oil or Starflower Oil (providing GLA) – to support hormone balance
  • Omega 3 fish oil –to support hormone balance, joints, low moods and cognitive function, dry skin, weight loss and heart health.
  • Vitamin E – is an anti-oxidant and studies show it supports hot flushes and vaginal dryness. It also supports heart health.
  • Vitamin D – needed for calcium absorption, for bone health.
  • Australian Bush Flower Remedies – ‘Women’s Essence’ – a traditional flower remedy to support female emotions.

Extra support for the Menopause:

Get emotional support – A lot of women find the emotions involved with this phase of life quite overwhelming. Let this be a phase where you take time to look after yourself and get the support you need, even if it’s just taking time with friends. Make time for things you enjoy and this will help your stress levels too. Don’t feel guilty! Also look at this next stage as one to embrace and look for new opportunities and positive changes you can make. It doesn’t need to be ‘all downhill from now on’!

A final thought

As women we are so often the ones to look after others and put ourselves last. Allow time to nurture yourself and treat yourself kindly. Give yourself permission to look after yourself. You are important too!
We are all women in the shop so feel free to talk to us about your PMS or Menopause! Or if you have any other health issues you want support with, please come and see us.

Disclaimer:
This information is intended as a guide only and is not intended as medical advice. Please check with your medical or healthcare practitioner if you are on any medication or if you have a medical condition or have a family history of breast cancer, before taking any of the products suggested here.

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