Change your diet and feel the benefits quickly – says Ian Marber, a renowned nutrition therapist, broadcaster and author of health books. He is the founder of the Food Doctor, a brand that is becoming more and more known for its healthy cereals, nuts and seeds, and snack bars.
According to Ian, PMS affects over 40 per cent of women of childbearing age (13-54 years) between ovulation and the onset of a period each month. There are 200 known symptoms. Also see PMS solutions.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
• Feeling bloated
• Feeling irritable
• Wanting to cry
• Nervous tension
• Weight gain
• Sore breasts
• Fluid retention
‘We gauge symptoms on a 1 to 10 basis which gives us something to measure the severity by, using the established groupings of symptoms. For instance PMT A which is experienced by 66 per cent of women with PMT incorporates: anxiety, irritability, nervous tension, self-destructive behaviour and mood swings. While PMT B
Includes abdominal bloating, sore breasts, swollen breasts, weight gain, fluid retention and swelling of extremities (fingers and toes).
‘There are many other factors that may be affecting how you feel during the pre-menstrual days such as stress, weight gain or obesity, blood sugar imbalance, magnesium deficiency, poor diet, prostaglandins and essential fatty acid imbalance and an imbalance of hormones.
‘Inflammation and discomfort are often linked to prostaglandins, indicating that there is not enough intake of essential fats. Evening primrose oil gives you the essential fats in the right form and as you need all the Omegas – 3, 6, 7 and 9, eating plenty of oily fish, nuts and seeds helps to prevent PMS – better than trying to cure it.
Blood sugar levels:
‘Often with teenagers there is a correlation between the way they eat and the way they feel, and frequently their blood sugar levels are going up and down because of their diet. When they see how quickly they benefit by giving up sugar for a couple of weeks before a period they are quite happy to comply.
‘Irritability is also linked to blood sugar levels. When these aren’t balanced more insulin and testosterone are released into the body which results in aggressive behaviour.
Effects of insufficient magnesium:
‘Low levels of magnesium are connected to cramping in PMS. Sugar and alcohol can knock out magnesium levels and need to be reduced. If you have enough magnesium muscles contract and relax in the right sequence. I sometimes suggest 200mg of magnesium initially, but also recommend getting it from dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
‘PMS is debilitating and can have an adverse effect on personal relationships, social activities, job performance and attendance. As many as 60 per cent of women who get PMS have a peak of symptoms in their 20s. But everyone can make a difference with diet which is an easy change to make. You don’t have to wait long to feel the benefits.’
Foods to avoid:
• Carbohydrates – refined sugar, sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and even potatoes, rice and bread that are high in fast-releasing sugars.
• Fats – saturated fats in red meat, dairy foods, fried foods, processed foods as they cause weight gain and hormonal imbalance.
• Stimulants – coffee, tea, colas, which all contain caffeine and affect blood sugar levels.
Foods to increase:
• Essential fats – from nuts, seeds, cold pressed oils, oily fish to help restore insulin sensitivity and restore prostaglandin metabolism.
• Complex carbohydrates that are slow-releasing – including whole grains, legumes, brown rice, wholemeal flour, highly coloured fresh vegetables and fruits like carrots, red, yellow and orange peppers, berries, apricots, which are high in antioxidants and prevent damage to cells from free radicals.
• Protein – from turkey, chicken, tofu, lentils, brown rice, fish, sugar-free natural yoghurt which encourages ‘friendly’ bacteria.
• Fibre – fresh, raw fruit and vegetables, wholegrains (preferably avoiding wheat), oat and rice bran, pulses and lentils. Dietary fibre helps to stabilise blood sugar response and supports probiotic intestinal bacteria, which also play a key role in hormonal balance and metabolism.
• Fluid – Drink two litres of water daily — taken away from meals and sipped slowly to avoid stress on the kidneys. For variety drink diluted fruit juices, organic vegetables juices and herbal teas.
Stress has such a damaging effect on the body and makes symptoms worse, so Ian also recommends joining a relaxation or yoga class and going to counseling or life coaching; doing a regular exercise programme; and maintaining a nutrient rich diet.
See PMS Solutions