With over half of women suffering from PMS (premenstrual syndrome), it’s almost considered part and parcel of life. Some degree of hormonal flux throughout the month is normal, but if these changes are lingering, intense and affecting your life, they could be symptomatic of a hormone imbalance. Thankfully, PMS symptoms like breakouts, bloating, mood swings and breast tenderness can be reduced, and here SL contributor Sarah Rodrigues talks us through how to handle them…
Clean Up Your Diet
Scale right back on your sugars and refined carbohydrates as they spike insulin production, which can send oestrogen levels into overdrive. Bulk up your fibre intake to encourage waste removal, which stops toxins hanging around in the body, ramp up your vitamin and mineral intake and incorporate plenty of healthy, unprocessed fats such as omega-3s. Avocado and salmon salad, anyone?
Give Your Liver A Break
Our livers are well equipped to break down and remove toxins, but our modern lifestyles (think pollution, pesticides, chemicals and alcohol) can make its job far harder. Cut out toxins where possible and help your liver out further by drinking plenty of water and herbal teas to aid its natural detoxification processes.
Not only does physical activity encourage the removal of toxins from the body, it also releases feel-good hormones which will improve your mood and help to keep stress in check.
Various supplements can go the extra mile in maintaining your hormone health and staving off the dreaded PMS – but with so many varieties on the market, you need to know which ones will really do the job...
B6 plays a key role in regulating hormones but works best when taken in combination with the other Bs, so opt for a complex formulation.
Magnesium helps to break down excess oestrogen in the liver as well as soothing the nervous system, thus helping to manage those stress levels.
Turmeric supports the liver, aiding the elimination of excess hormones. It also stimulates blood flow, which can ease discomfort associated with the menstrual cycle.
Shatavari is a key ‘women’s herb’ in Ayurvedic medicine: its potency in supporting women’s health is reflected in its name which translates as ‘the woman with 100 husbands’ (we’ll have some of that energy, please!). Supporting women throughout their whole cycle, it balances hormones and can enhance libido too – one of the first things to go when PMS strikes. Pukka have incorporated this herb into its new organic Womankind supplement (£16.96): take two capsules per day to keep your hormones in balance and PMS at bay.
Relaxation and stress management are vital throughout your entire cycle, because it’s not just our hormones that affect our ability to handle stress – our stress levels affect our hormones, too. When we’re stressed, our bodies respond by producing more cortisol, but this uses up the same ‘ingredients’ required for the production of progesterone, which then gets sidelined as our fight or flight reflex kicks in. The result? Oestrogen dominance, hormone imbalance and PMS.