Young woman suffering from insomnia, husband sleeping aside

If you suffer from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), you are not alone! Did you know that PMS affects approximately 70 to 90% of women and describes any symptoms that occur after ovulation and disappear almost as soon as the period arrives.

A staggering 150 symptoms have been associated with PMS and can include bloating, water retention, breast tenderness, fatigue, migraines, cramping, constipation, food cravings, mood swings, irritability, anxiety or low stress tolerance where small things become overwhelming. The crucial point is not what symptoms you experience, but when. Up to 40 per cent of women are believed to have symptoms severe enough to interfere with their daily lives.

Top tips

1. Balance Blood sugar

Research shows that women with PMS have alterations in patterns of their stress hormones such as cortisol. If you eat a diet high in sugar or refined carbohydrates or if you regularly go too long without eating, your blood sugars and cortisol levels will fluctuate wildly. Eat little and often, include quality protein or a healthy fat with every meal and snack and reduce your intake of sugar as much as possible to help your hormonal balance.

2. Vitex Agnus Castus

This herb has been shown to be most useful in reducing or eliminating symptoms of PMS. One study in the British Medical Journal showed that agnus castus is an ‘effective and well tolerated treatment’ for PMS.

3. Magnesium

Known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, magnesium is important in managing symptoms such as anxiety, low mood and irritability, as well as menstrual migraines. When we carry out blood tests in clinic, magnesium is our most commonly identified deficiency. Food sources include nuts and seeds which we recommend including on a daily basis. Other sources include pulses, fish and dark green leafy vegetables. If supplementing, use an organic form such as magnesium citrate and not magnesium oxide which is poorly absorbed.

4. B vitamins

Women with PMS have been shown to have lower levels of B vitamins than non-sufferers. B vitamins are found in wholegrains so switching from the ‘white stuff’ e.g. bread, pasta, rice to brown varieties will add nutrients and reduce blood sugar fluctuations. Vitamin B6 is particularly beneficial and sources include tuna and salmon, spinach, cabbages, cauliflower and peppers. If you are supplementing, we recommend taking it in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate rather than having to convert pyridoxine in the body.

5. Omega-3 fat

Increasing your intake of omega-3 essential fats helps your body to produce calming, anti-inflammatory signals which may help to reduce period pains and spasms. The best source of omega-3 fats are oily fish, such as wild or organic salmon, mackerel and sardines and you may get small amounts from flaxseed (linseed), chia seed and walnuts. Alternatively, take a good quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement containing greater than 500mg EPA and 500mg of DHA per day.

6. Reduce stress

Stress hormones prevent your body from being able to use progesterone properly in the second half of your cycle. Make sure you make time for you at least twice a week; learn to meditate or have a manicure, whatever works for you!

7. Exercise

Exercise releases brain chemicals called ‘endorphins’, which help us to feel happier, more alert and calmer. This has been shown to have a positive effect on people suffering from depression, stress and anxiety – many of the symptoms found in the pre-menstrual period.

Contact Linda on 086 8345563 or info@beoganutrition.ie for more information on how we can help you.