Herbfacts

Women’s Health: top nutrition tips

Eating a well-balanced diet is the key to overall good health, but are their specific ways women can improve their wellbeing?

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer looks at three of the most common health complaints affecting women.

There are plenty of dietary tweaks that can make ‘women’s problems’ a whole lot better. Here are three examples of wellness issues and what you can do to help.

PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome is actually the most common health condition affecting women.  It is a term used to describe any symptom that occurs after the middle of the menstrual cycle.  There are around 150 possible symptoms, but the most common ones are irritability, mood swings, anxiety, bloating, sugar cravings and breast tenderness.  However, there are a number of natural remedies that may help.

It is very important to keep blood sugar levels balanced, which will help to control cravings but also manage other symptoms.  This means eating at regular intervals and having protein with every meal; for example, eggs, chicken, turkey, lean red meat or soya-based foods if you’re vegetarian.  Too much caffeine can also really disrupt the balance and make you more anxious, so change to fruit or herb teas as much as possible during this time.

There is a herb of choice specifically for PMS, called agnus castus, also known as Vitex or Chastetree Berry. This is the most important herb in the treatment of PMS and has been shown to be extremely helpful in establishing a normal balance of hormones.  It actually helps to balance the pituitary gland, particularly in the second half of the cycle; take all month long for best effect.  Improvements in symptoms are generally felt after one cycle.

BREAST TENDERNESS

This is another common problem for women. Often occurring as part of the monthly cycle, tender, lumpy and swollen breasts can be a very uncomfortable symptom.  What you eat and drink will make the most difference to the breast problems you experience during your cycle.  For example, any foods or drinks that contain substances called methylxanthines should be avoided.  These are found in coffee, green tea, black tea, chocolate and cola.  Unfortunately, these foods need to be removed completely from your diet for improvements to be noticed.

Eating foods that contain phytoestrogens or naturally-occurring oestrogens can really help with hormone balancing and, therefore, breast tenderness. Phytoestrogens are found in soya, lentils, chick peas and flaxseed.

THRUSH

Vaginal thrush is caused by a yeast overgrowth with symptoms including a thick white discharge, soreness and irritation.  Some women may suffer several bouts a year.  Taking antibiotics, stress, taking the Pill, HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) or having too much sugar in your diet can all set it off.  Whilst there are some effective over-the-counter remedies, which particularly help with immediate cooling relief. trying to proactively deal with the cause is always best.

Taking a course of probiotics, particularly ones containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, increases the healthy bacteria and is the most effective strain.  Additionally, including live yoghurt, often labelled Bio, in your diet, on a regular basis will also help to increase levels of friendly bacteria.