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Beating the menstrual blues.

Sometimes it all gets too much, it feels as if the world is closing in on you.  Nothing is going right.  Your body may be bloated and your breast are aching, maybe you're not sleeping.  You just can't seem to keep things under control.

The way women are affected at the lead up to their period is as individual as themselves, but there are many common symptoms.  One thing is sure, the imbalance in hormones can certainly stir things up.   Everything seems to become far more intense.

Some of the most common symptoms are anxiety, mood swings and nervous tension.  This is caused by an imbalance of Oestrogen and Progesterone.  The first thing to look at with this type of PMS is how much dairy products and refined sugars are in your diet, make sure they are not in excess as they can effect the absorption of Magnesium.    Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Zinc are the vital nutrients here; they are essential in the brain to produce the chemicals, which control these symptoms.  These nutrients also assist in the clearance of the excess oestrogen.  A diet high in vegetable proteins and fibre also assist this process.

Cravings are common at this time, especially for chocolate and other sweet things.  Increase appetite, headaches, fatigue, dizziness or fainting and palpitations may also be experienced.  It is best when suffering from this to eat small meals regularly to help prevent the falling glucose levels.  5-6 small meals a day of healthy nutritious food, incorporating complex carbohydrates, will be of great assistance.  A supplementation of Chromium can help in stabilizing blood sugar levels. The food that you are craving can also give an indication of what foods are missing in your diet. The most common craving, chocolate, is an indication of a Magnesium deficiency.

The symptoms of depression, crying, forgetfulness, confusion and insomnia are what some women go through.  A diet including plenty of raw foods and grains is recommended in this case.  It is related to low oestrogen: high progesterone balance and a clean healthy diet, high in Magnesium can help towards regulation.  It would also be advised to work on cleansing the liver. If the liver is functioning well, then it will assist in clearing out the excess hormones.

If you suffer from fluid retention, weight gain, swelling of extremities, breast tenderness, or abdominal bloating, salt and red meat should be decreased.  An herb, which can offer some relief from this, is Ginkgo.  Also of benefit are Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E.

 Evening Primrose Oil can reduce the cramping pain that announces to many women that their period is approaching.   Calcium/Magnesium supplements can also bring relief.

Many of the symptoms of PMS are related to dietary imbalances and nutritional deficiencies.  The following are basic dietary guidelines that can be useful regardless of what symptoms you suffer.

  • Avoid refined and processed foods, i.e. sugars, soft drinks, cakes and sweets especially prior to onset of period
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, chocolate and tobacco.
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Increase consumption of fish (cod, tuna, and salmon) and oil seeds.  Evening Primrose oil is of great benefit to most types of PMS and for relief of period pain.  It also offers the added bonus of being good for a variety of different complaints, such as skin problems, arthritis and all kinds of inflammatory problems.
  • Restrict intake of dairy products to two servings per day.
  • Limit the intake of animal fat.
  • Increase the consumption of green leafy vegetables.
  • Increase the consumption of foods rich in Magnesium (i.e. wheat bran, almonds, wheat germ, cashews, spinach, rice), Zinc (brazil nuts, almonds, rice, seeds, wheat, olives) and Vitamin B6 (walnuts, Yoghurt, Hazelnuts, wheat germ, Sunflower seeds, Soya beans).
  •  Some herbs that can be helpful when dealing with PMS are: Vitex - which helps to balance hormones, Hypericum  - for depression, Skullcap and Vervain - help to calm the nerves, Dandelion - works with the liver to cleanse and remove excess hormones.
  • Tissue salts that can be of benefit, both for PMS and for menstrual cramps come in combinations that include Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate (Kali Phos) and Magnesium Phosphate.
  • Flower essences are very effective at dealing with some of the emotional issues around PMS.  Australian Bush Flower Essences has a special blend just for women - Woman Essences, available in both drops and cream.  This, or other flower essences, may be a great assistance.
  • Essential oils can be use in an oil vapiouriser, a few drops in a bath, or mixed with oil for a massage.  Some of the following could be mixed or used alone.  For calming and balancing hormones - Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Rose and Sandalwood; Emotionally uplifting - Bergamot, Jasmine, Juniper and Sage; Fluid retention and cramps - Fennel, Laurel, Tarragon and Cypress; Energizing - Peppermint  

In the lead up to her period, a woman can become quite emotional and all sorts of feelings come to the surface.  These are very often the very things that we don't want to look at, or face.  We can spend the rest of the month not dealing with want really is hidden underneath, but when PMT hits, suddenly it's there.  All the things that aren't working in your life come and hit you in the face. Allow yourself to cry if you want to, it will help you get in touch with want is really important to you.  Start writing a journal.  This may help you to recognize what issues you need to deal with.  Write down all your feelings and frustrations that surface while you are premenstrual. Recognizing this and working with it can be the first step of dealing with PMT.

Most importantly take time out each month to celebrate your womanhood.   The onset of a period is a reminder of who you are and is a special time to pamper yourself: Buy yourself flowers, have a special treat, have a massage, take a bubble bath, or whatever makes you feel special.  It's the time to make time for you! .

Dietary guidelines.

The key to good health is a healthy nutritious diet, full of fresh organic foods. Reproductive health is no different. To avoid and reduce problems with PMS, painful periods, fertility problems and menopause a balanced diet is essential and always the first place to start.

The importance of organic and fresh foods cannot be overlooked. Foods are often grown with the assistance of chemicals for pest control and as fertilizers. Residuals of these chemicals remain in the food and are passed on to us as we eat them. Our bodies are pretty amazing things, especially our liver. It is designed to process waste and will handle the decomposition and waste removal of thousands of chemicals, however it is not able to deal with the over abundance of man-made chemicals that are now being pumped into the system. These remain in our systems and continue to build-up causing all sorts of problems. The same can be said about animal products being consumed. Many animals are being fed non-organic fed and being pumped full of steroids and antibiotics. These are stored in their bodies, and then passed on to us, if we eat them. This contributes to an imbalance of our hormones. Choosing organic foods whenever possible can help keep our bodies free of dangerous chemical residue. It is also important to have your food as fresh as possible. The nutrients in the chemicals begin to deteriorate as soon as fruit and veggies are picked.

  • Eat less Red Meat. Read meat should be kept to a minimum. Choose lean, organic meat. A serve of meat should be no larger than the palm of your hand. Meats such as liver are full of nutrients, but if make sure you choose organic, otherwise, it will be full of toxins. Remember the liver is the clearinghouse of the body. Avoid processed meats.
  • Seafood and fish are a natural source of many nutrients, and especially Essential Fatty Acids. Ocean fish, as opposed to river fish, is less likely to be polluted.
  • Poultry and eggs need to be free range and organically feed. The hormones injected into chickens to rapidly increase their growth are passed on to the unexpecting consumer.
  • Protein is an important issue for vegetarians. If you are not eating animal protein make sure you get a combination of other amino acid containing foods. These include nuts, whole grains and seeds, pulse and legumes (this includes soy products such as tofu and tempeh). Combine at least 2 of these groups to form complete protein combinations.
  • Nuts and Seeds are important for all. They contain a rich supply of nutrients. Eat them fresh and unsalted.
  • Dairy products should not be consumed in high quantities. Many people have sensitivities to cow's milk and you may not be aware of this. Check out the alternative types of milk, such as goat's sheep, Soya or rice milk. Butter is always better than margarine. Try alternative spreads such as tahini, avocado, hummus or nut spreads. If you believe you have to consume a lot of dairy products to prevent osteoporosis, keep in mind that in the countries where dairy consummation is extremely low so is osteoporosis. Calcium can be obtained from other sources.
  • Organic vegetables need to be apart of our daily diet. Choose a variety of colours, the more colourful your meal, the more variety of nutrients are provided. Don't forget those dark green leafy ones. Raw veggies are always best; when you must cook them, keep it light. (Steam, stir-fry or dry baked veggies)
  • Fruit is an excellent between meal snacks. Many people enjoy their fruit for breakfast. Try to include 2-3 pieces of fresh organic fruit daily. Fresh fruit is better than juice. It comes in its own perfect packaging. Natural Fast Food.
  • Fresh herbs can make a great addition to you food for flavour and for nutrients. Some herbs such as parsley or watercress in your salad add flavour, interest and nutrients.
  • Avoid fried foods. The occasional stir-fry using olive oil is fine.
  • Cold-pressed oils are the best choice for cooking and for salads. For salads choose olive oil, safflower, sunflower or flaxseed. Use olive or canola oil for cooking, these are monosaturated and won't become saturated when they are heated. Cold-pressed oils are full of EFAs.
  • Whole grains should always been chosen over white processed products. Choose brown pasta, rice, cereals and bread. Check that it is organic though and whole grain. Just because it is brown, doesn't mean it is.
  • Sugar need to be avoided, it destroys other nutrients.
  • Salt is supplied naturally through many of your foods. You don't need any additional salt. If occasionally you enjoy the flavour, use sea or rock salt.
  • Alcohol use should be limited.
  • Tea, coffee and soft drinks should be limited. If you must drink coffee, keep it down to one a day, or even better, just occasionally. Drink no more than 3 cups of tea a day. Try alternatives, such as herbal teas and green teas. Colas are high in caffeine as well as sugar and a myriad of chemicals. If it's the fizz you like, try mixing your own natural drinks. Dark grape juice with soda water is nice.
  • Fresh water is vital to our survival. Drink 8-12 glasses of pure water daily. Water helps to flush the system and keep our cells hydrated. If for no other reason drink plenty of water to keep your youth appearance and weight down.