Diet & PMS

Diet & PMS

Is your diet affecting your PMS?

Back in 1981, a woman killed her boyfriend after an argument by running him over with her car. The woman was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and banned from driving for the same period. The reason for the light sentence was that the verdict was diminished responsibility due to PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).

Typical symptoms

The above example is extreme. However, many women experience monthly mental and physical symptoms ranging from mild to life disrupting. Some of the common ones include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excess gas
  • Wind pains
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Weepiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling “spaced out”
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Food cravings especially for sweet foods

What is PMS?

To be classified as PMS the symptoms must occur after ovulation (i.e. the middle of the month) and disappear around the time your period starts. Recording your symptoms in a diary can be helpful. If the symptoms occur throughout the whole month then PMS is unlikely to be the cause.

There has been quite a lot of research into the cause of PMS, so far without any conclusive results. Most of the conventional treatments on offer consist of giving drugs such as synthetic hormones, diuretics or anti-depressants. None of these treatments addresses the underlying cause of PMS and they have side effects.

Diet solutions to PMS

Looking closely at your diet will pay dividends. The ideal solution is a tailored plan from a PMS nutritionist, to address your individual needs. Additional supplements of herbs or nutrients can also be added to correct any deficiencies and imbalances.

One important factor to focus on is keeping your blood sugar levels balanced. This is very easy to do with the right foods. Blood sugar balance and hormone balance are closely linked. Level blood sugar throughout the day and an absence of pronounced fluctuations leads to much more stable hormone levels.

A client of mine, Karen, complained of abdominal bloating, severe mood swings, sugar cravings and pain and spotting before the start of her period. All the symptoms except for the bloating would disappear as soon as her period started. We changed her diet quite radically and she took mineral supplements, an active form of B6 and a herbal blend containing herbs to balance her progesterone levels. After 6 weeks her symptoms were much reduced and after 12 weeks, virtually gone. Her reason for consulting me was infertility. Happily, after the PMS was sorted out she did go on to conceive 6 months later!

Hormone Tests for PMS

My first aim is to get you back in balance without paying for private tests. For more persistent hormone issues, a saliva hormone test can be very helpful.

A standard hormone test via your GP will involve measuring levels of bound sex hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone, in the blood. Unless a hormone imbalance is pronounced, the results of such a test will often come back normal.

Much hormone imbalance is more subtle than this and is outside the scope of a blood test. A more sensitive means of testing is to use saliva which measures free circulating hormones rather than bound ones.

Multiple samples can be taken at different times of the day and month. This makes it possible to track the hormonal pattern over an entire cycle rather than simply spot checking on a certain day as is the case with conventional blood tests. The accuracy of saliva testing is well documented by specialists in the field of steroid hormones but it is not used by the NHS currently. You can have these tests done privately through a nutritional therapist.

Copyright © Penny Crowther (London Nutritionist)
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