To Bleed Or Not to Bleed

Erol Ahmed @unsplash

Erol Ahmed @unsplash

 “Women Don’t Need to Bleed” was a headline in The Guardian newspaper in the UK on July 18th.

My immediate response, I’ll be honest, was to roll my eyes and mutter, “Of, for FU*CK’S sake.”

It makes a great headline, granted, but is it true?

The article was arguing two separate points: 1.) that women on the Pill should dispense with their Pill-free week because it is unnecessary, and 2.) that women should take hormonal birth control to get rid of their natural cycle.

These are two very different things.

Let’s focus first on women who are on the Pill.  I still speak to women who think they’re having a period during their Pill-free week. They see it as reassurance they’re not pregnant. It’s not a period. It’s a withdrawal bleed. Theoretically, that Pill-free week isn’t necessary so women on the Pill could take the drug continuously and not have that bleed.  They don’t need it for the Pill to work. Now, what’s the impact over years of the additional drug-intake? One contributor in the article, a doctor, admits, “more research is needed.” I’ll say.

But that’s one thing. The other is the idea of taking the Pill or another form of hormonal contraception, NOT to prevent pregnancy, but purely to remove the inconvenience of your period. That’s when I get a bit antsy. Now, I understand that for a lot of women their period is a source of misery and dread. What frustrates me is that they don’t know that it doesn’t need to be. They put up with the misery because they’ve been told that’s ‘normal’. It may be your normal, but it doesn’t have to be. I have not worked yet with a woman whose cycle couldn’t be improved, often dramatically, with simple nutritional and lifestyle interventions and 3-6 months of targeted supplements.

·         Heavy bleeding?

·         Sore boobs?

·         Period pain?

·         Horrendous PMS?

There will be a reason for any or all of these and they can all be addressed by exploring their root cause. Your body is telling you to get some help. Unfortunately for most, that comes via a prescription pad. It doesn’t have to.

Shoving a gazillion more women on hormonal birth control, to my mind, is not the answer. It’s just plastering over the problem with a drug. And what is the impact of hormonal contraception on our bodies? Especially if it’s taken for 10, 20, or even 30 years? How many women are informed that the Pill depletes vital nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and selenium, and that these deficiencies impact their health too? Not many. (Dr Jolene Brighten is an amazing resource on all things post-Pill. Check out her work.) Oh, and BTW, let’s not forget that as a drug the Pill and its associates can come with their own list of side effects including depression, headaches, migraines, nausea, weight gain… and the list goes on.

Oestrogen and progesterone are the main hormones that control our menstrual cycle. Their ebb and flow through the ‘month’ prepare the body each cycle for a possible pregnancy. But if you don’t want to get pregnant, what’s the point of them? Let’s shut ‘em down! Why do we need to bleed?

Well, while the role of these two key female hormones is predominantly to prepare, allow and develop a pregnancy, both oestrogen and progesterone support woman’s health in other ways. They impact our mental acuity, our libido, our bone, cardiovascular and even immune health. Progesterone is your happy hormone. That’s the stuff that makes us chilled and aids sleep. It also helps protect your breasts and womb from cancer. Oestrogen also plays an important role in the production of collagen – so think good oestrogen levels, think youthful glow.

Want to use the Pill or similar for contraception? Fire ahead. But when I hear a 14-year old has been put on the Pill to help her skin, or reduce her period pain, I feel frustrated. There is another way. When I hear a woman whose periods have gotten heavier and heavier has been put on the Pill, I feel frustrated. There is another way. Or a peri-menopausal women being told to stay on the Pill for her 3rd decade to manage her low mood, I feel frustrated. Because? Yep… There. Is. Another. Way.

Period problems should not be accepted, ABSOLUTELY, but neither should they be masked. Now, a GP may well be involved in establishing underlying causes, but the answer may not have to lie in a pharmaceutical product taken for years and years.

Our cycle tells us a lot about what’s going on with our body. Whether or not you embrace the idea that our power as women comes from the different elements of our cycle or not, from a nutritionist’s point of view, if you’re having your period, it can tell me a lot about what’s going on with you. And if you’re struggling with it, nutritional therapy might be an easier solution to your problems than you think.

Women should be empowered to decide what is best for their body. Information empowers women. Choice empowers women. But what worries me is that women aren’t given the full picture. To make informed decisions, they need to know more about their bodies. There may be another way.

 





To

Carbs: yes, no or maybe?

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

No-carb? Low-carb? ALL THE CARBS?

What do you eat?

There was a time not so long ago that no-carb was the standard dietary dogma trotted out when it came to weight-loss.

“Waiter, please take away the bread basket!”

That eased off for a while as diets like Atkins and South Beach (evenutally) lost momentum, but now, the no- or low-carb way of eating has exploded again, triggering vociferous debate amongst health professionals – not least when it comes to discussions around insulin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The arguments revolve around whether low-carb is the answer, or low-fat, or perhaps just very low calorie. Western medicine can’t seem to decide. The NHS announced at the end of last year that it was rolling out very low-calorie programmes for diabetics in an attempt to get their blood sugar levels under control, but it’s actually low-fat, low-cal AND low carb. There is, however, considerable research exploring whether reducing carbohydrate intake alone can produce a reversible impact on type 2 diabetes and the studies, including on humans (i.e. not just on mice), are persuasive. So, saying no to that bread basket may be advice you hear from your GP in the not-too-distant future.

Nutritional science is 50 shades of grey (without the sex) – research can be interpreted to suit most ideologies, but there are some irrefutable facts and one is that carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. Simply put, carbs are broken down into glucose, which is a source of fuel. When you haven’t eaten for too long and you feel a bit dizzy or grumpy, that’s your body’s call for glucose. But which carbs are best for YOU?

Here’s another question: when you think of carbohydrates, what do you picture? I’d guess potatoes, bread, pasta and rice. These are all carbs, yes, but so are fruit and vegetables, wholefoods, like pulses, and whole grains, like oats.

And there are also categories of carbs – refined, unrefined, unprocessed, processed and the newly crowned ultra-processed. (Processed means that a food has had ingredients added to it. Ultra-processed is food that is significantly changed from its original state, with salt, sugar, fat, additives, preservatives and/or artificial colours added. In case you were wondering.)

If you have been advised to lose weight or change your diet because you are pre-diabetic, reducing your carbohydrate intake is one way to shift those pounds and make a dent in high blood sugar levels. However, sustaining a low-carb diet can be challenging beyond a few months, and the key is to find a way of eating that is sustainable so that the weight stays off, and your blood sugar remains stable.

Another problem for those following low-carb diets for long periods of time is low intake of fibre. With the discussion raging about whether low-carb is necessary, the importance of fibre has been slightly lost. The government advises that we get 30g of fibre a day. Most people, we are told, aren’t getting close to that. There are many, many different types of fibre. Fruit and vegetables are important, ABSOLUTELY, but wholefoods are too, which brings us back to carbohydrates.

When it comes to the carbs row, we can all agree that those that are highly refined are best avoided as much as possible. And remember, insulin resistance – when your body stops responding to insulin, which can lead to diabete - is also affected by stress and sleep, so relaxing and resting is vital for our health too.

Taking certain foods out of our diet is one approach to eating, but our focus might be better placed on what more we can add in. I’m talking about foods to help us feel full and energised. This is about variety and diversity and there is still scope for dietary variations. The basics are probably familiar to you: opt for brown rice instead of white rice; whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta; incorporate pulses in to your diet – they’re cheap and versatile. Ditch the sugary cereal and buy porridge oats – they’re cheaper and more nutritious.

There is a dizzying barrage of information everywhere on what we should eat. Social media is where the clamour is loudest. I’m a nutritional therapist, so I’m part of that. I advise, guide or suggest – but I do so with no judgement and in full knowledge that there is no such thing as a perfect diet and that our food choices can be determined by many things, including socio-economic factors beyond our control.

Also, what works for you, may not work for someone else. You may feel better without grains in your diet; your best mate may feel better when she avoids pulses and your sister may be able to eat absolutely anything and feel brilliant. If you’re not sure how to eat to feel YOUR best, get some advice. Excluding food groups for any length of time should not be undertaken without professional guidance. A BANT-registered nutritional therapist can support you as you explore what foods nourish YOU best.

So, in answer to the original question – carbs – yes, no maybe…?

Yes, you can eat carbs. You should eat carbs. There are many different types of carbs and your health is best served by focusing on whole grains and fruit and vegetables rather than anything that comes in a packet. It’s all about… balance. Carbs are an important part of your diet but swap out those processed “white” ones for fibre-rich and nutrient-dense equivalents as much as possible.

Motherhood and Booze

booze.jpg

My job is to support you to feel the best that you can, to guide you towards achieving your health goals. Now, food is the focus of what I do, but sometimes good health, mental and physical, can be about what we need to work on leaving out, too.

I’m talking about alcohol.

I’ll be honest. I don’t drink much or very often. I love a good glass of red with steak, or when I’m out with friends, but booze generally makes me feel like crap, so I tend not to bother. Some clients dig their heels in when it comes to their wine or Prosecco. They need it, they’ll tell me. I don’t underestimate the strength of this feeling. Women in their 40s and 50s are likely experiencing greater stress than ever before – menopause, ageing parents, raising children, working and all this whilst attempting to look after themselves. You deserve a drink at the end of a long day, right? I understand the defensiveness, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you why, if you drink more than one glass every or most nights, your health might suffer.

Might alcohol play a part in your anxiety or depression?

Women around menopause are particularly prone to anxiety and depression. There may be many reasons for this, but one is roller-coaster hormonal shifts. So, to take the edge of your edginess you have a glass of something. Except that alcohol is a depressant, so you’ll feel better for a bit, but just a drink a day for some women is enough to increase anxiety without them making the connection.

Sleep disruption

Alcohol disrupts sleep. If you’re menopausal, this may be even more so. If you suffer from hot flushes and night sweats, alcohol may be a contributing factor.  That said, this is largely anecdotal so observe your own body’s reaction.  

Cancer

This is a biggie. There are lots of statistics regarding alcohol and cancer. The cancer charities don’t mince their words on this. “Alcohol causes cancer.” “Alcohol increases your risk of getting 7 different types of cancer.” Specific to women, “Your risk of breast cancer increases if you drink just one alcoholic drink a day.”

Are there any health benefits to drinking?

This is the latest advice from The Drinkaware Trust, an independent UK-wide alcohol education charity.

·       A review of evidence carried out on behalf of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers in 2016 concluded that women over 55 are the only group that may experience some overall protective effect from drinking a small amount of alcohol (around 5 units per week.)

·       For anyone drinking above the low-risk drinking guidelines, alcohol’s possible benefits on the heart are outweighed by other health risks, including acute harms and other very serious illnesses, such as liver disease and cancer. The potential benefit would also only occur if your 14 units are spaced out during the week – consuming heavily in one session can cause a heart attack.

·       So, any potential benefits on the heart depend both on your overall consumption and your general pattern of drinking (how much and how often).

OK, so how much can you drink?

It gets a bit murky here. I took a dive into guidelines internationally and they vary wildly. What some countries consider ‘safe’ is way above what other countries recommend. And how often you drink is important – you’re better off drinking over a number of days, but with a few alcohol-free days a week, rather than bingeing and drinking your ‘allowance’ in one night. In the UK, the recommendation is no more than 14 units a week, which equals about 6 medium glasses of 14% ABV wine. BUT the authors of a major international study on alcohol intake published last year in The Lancet stated that they considered there to be “no safe level of alcohol consumption.”

If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, avoid alcohol. Again, this advice differs internationally, and the UK have jumped back and forth on this in recent years, but current NHS advice is not to drink.

Take home?

It makes even a sober head spin a bit doesn’t it? From my perspective as a nutritional therapist, my focus is taking a step back and looking at your lifestyle, your diet and how much you drink. Let’s get some perspective and some context. Is it the odd glass? More than that? Why do you drink? Are you drinking alone, unhappy? Or having a drink and laughing in the company of loved ones and eating a fabulous meal? What do you eat day to day? All these factors combine to create a picture of your health and well-being. There’s no one size fits all. Is it better if you didn’t drink much at all, if at all? Sorry, but based on everything I know, I’d say yes.

That said, there is no judgement and if you are finding that you want to drink a few glasses of wine at the end of the day once the kids are in bed and that’s sacrosanct, there are ways to approach that. You might consider having wine every other night, or one glass not two, but also explore other ways to mark those hours when the small people are tucked up. What about treat-replacement? That could just be a magazine and a soak in the tub with a beautiful bath oil, or how about taking 10 minutes lying on your bed listening to Calm or Headspace. You may feel you need the booze less once you’ve relaxed in another way. Or is it the routine of pouring a drink once you’ve said “Goodnight”, that you love? I’m told the alcohol-free “gin” G&T is a pretty good swap.

There isn’t an easy answer.

So much of motherhood is about giving of yourself. Giving back to ourselves is important and often overlooked. That glass you pour at the end of the day, especially when it’s been a tough one, may feel like what you deserve. However, if it becomes so entrenched in your daily routine that it’s the only way for you to decompress, it may be doing you harm, and you do not deserve that.

Seeking Out Sourdough

Margot Bakery, N2

Margot Bakery, N2

Who’d heard of sourdough bread ten years ago? Well, OK, but mainstream it was not. Now it’s like the salted caramel of baked goods. It’s everywhere.

I am very lucky to have a sourdough bakery just around the corner from my house. Buying bread fresh from the oven is hard to resist. What I particularly love is that there are only a few, organic ingredients. Quite unlike the industrial, mass-produced, spongy, chemical-laden rubbish that passes itself off as a sliced loaf on every supermarket shelf in the country. (How did we ever become persuaded that bread that wasn’t mouldy after 10 days was a good thing? It takes a chemical to do that. NOT what we want.)

Sourdough has been enjoying a renaissance in the UK for the last few years, for several reasons. One is “the starter” – which takes the place of yeast. Starter is simply flour and water mixed together and left to ferment for a few days until it becomes a frothy, bubbly, thick liquid. Not everyone likes the slight sourness that comes with it, but it’s that ‘tang’ that gives sourdough its nutritional superiority. Fermented foods are very much in vogue right now and for good reason. Fermented foods are a source of good bacteria for our gut. These good bacteria can improve digestion and boost immunity, amongst other things. No surprise then that sourdough has picked up popularity.

Back in 2001, there was research to compare the nutritional benefits of sourdough vs yeast leavened bread. Sourdough came out on top. Why? Because it confirmed that fermentation process impacts the nature of the wheat – it breaks down the phytates.

“What’s a phytate, Thalia?” I hear you cry. Well, I’m glad you asked. Phytates are naturally-occurring compounds found in whole grains, legumes, nut and seeds. One problem with them is that they are known to bind to micronutrients like zinc, magnesium and iron and can slow their absorption in the body.

So, fewer phytates mean our bodies can better absorb the nutrients in the flour and fewer phytates makes the flour more digestible. This means those sensitive to gluten may be able to tolerate sourdough, most likely a superior choice to the gluten-free breads you buy in the supermarket, which are often filled with all sorts of fillers and nasties.

But not all sourdough is created equal. The loaves you buy in the supermarket may not be the real deal. An investigation last year revealed that only 4 out of 19 loaves tested contained the traditional four ingredients only – starter, flour, water and salt. The rest also contained additional ingredients – they had the tang but only because it was added in. Yep.

So, the upshot is, whether gluten is your friend or not, sourdough can be part of a healthy diet for bread lovers everywhere. Praise be to toast.

 

 

 

The Power of Sleep

This week is Sleep Awareness Week.

We all know how much more of a struggle life can be if we’re tired and we all know we need to sleep, but how many of us prioritise sleep?

howling-red-622247-unsplash.jpg

How often do you delay bedtime to watch an extra episode of your latest box set or lose yourselves in Instaworld? Hands up who goes to bed an earlier later than when they first think, “I should really go to bed,” because it’s easier to stay on the sofa? Mine goes up.

The science of sleep has become a huge topic in recent years. Check out Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep and Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution. The upshot of both books is, if you value your brain, get more sleep.

How well and how much you sleep impacts:

Your mood – who isn’t crankier when they’re tired?

Your appetite - we’re more likely to reach for quick energy options when we’re tired, namely junk and caffeine.

Your coping mechanisms – if you’re tired, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed.

If you’re a parent reading this, you’re probably rolling your eyes. I know. Yeah, we need at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night – great, but who’s telling our kids? Nothing can prepare you for the brutality of chronic sleep deprivation as a parent but whether you’re a parent or not, there are some things you can strive for each day, to improve the quality of your sleep.

Here are my top 6 tips for getting some better Zzzzzz…

1. Step away from the light… at least an hour before bed, PUT. YOUR.PHONE. DOWN. The blue light that screens emit suppress the production of melatonin, which helps our brain to regulate our circadian rhythm. To be avoided.

2. Try not to have caffeine after midday – caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours, so that post-lunch latte may be affecting how well you sleep, even if you don’t realise it.

3. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible – start with low lights in the evening to prepare the body for sleep. If your curtains or blinds let in light, try sleeping with an eye mask.

4. Keep tech OUT of the bedroom. No phones, no laptops or tablets.

5. Try and leave a few hours after eating before bed. The better you have digested your meal, the better you’ll sleep. And avoid late night snacking for the same reason.

6. Aim to do 5 minutes of relaxation before bed - this can take the form of deep breathing. This can be as simple as a series of deep, slow breaths. Try the 4-7-8 breath - breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, and slowly let your breath out for the count of 8. It takes a little practice but give it a go. Build up to ten rounds.

So, if only for this week, aim to be in bed just half an hour earlier each night and see how you feel. More energised? Better skin? Less hungry? Happier? I'll take any of those.

Netflix can wait.

Source: Photo by howling red on Unsplash

Perimenopause - what is it and am I in it?

emma-simpson-153970-unsplash

emma-simpson-153970-unsplash

You’re going along, PMS-period, PMS-period, all the joy, and then BAM something changes. Your PMS is a little worse. Or a lot worse. You cycle has gotten shorter. Or longer. You’re feeling anxious, but you can’t work out why, and is it me or is it HOT in here?

Are you menopausal? Or is this the perimenopause? First up, what’s the difference? Perimenopause is basically menopause transition by another name. It’s the bit between your periods changing to you not having them for 12 months, which is the medical definition of being post-menopausal. Menopause is the destination. Perimenopause is the journey. For some women, this transition is something they don’t notice, for others it has a big impact on their life, and for 1 in 10 women, that “transition” can last for up to ten years and start in their late thirties or early forties.

What does the transition feel like? Well, symptoms can be physical or emotional. There are several tests that can indicate whether you are menopausal, but oftentimes the symptoms speak for themselves, especially if you’re 40+.

Symptoms are emotional and physical and often include:

·         Tired (all the time)

·         Anxiety

·         Mood Swings

·         Memory loss

·         Brain fog

·         Period changes (longer or shorter cycle, heavier bleeding)

·         Low sex drive

·         Hot flushes

·         Night Sweats

·         Insomnia

This is not an exhaustive list (just exhausting to experience).  The reason why you can feel like your PMS has ramped up is because our hormones may be in a state of flux as we age – oestrogen, progesterone, thyroid, insulin… just a few of the hormones that dictate how well we are handling “the change” as it approaches.

Can diet help?  Yes, but as part of a series of measures that might make this time easier.

Balance your blood sugar

Don’t skip meals, and every time you eat make sure you’re getting some protein (for example, chicken, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs) and a healthy fat (examples include avocadoes, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds) as well as some vegetables and a piece of fruit. And this also means ditching the sugar in your diet as much as you can… yep, that’s the chocolate, cakes and biscuits that you may think are helping you cope, but which are just aggravating the problem.

Stay regular

Aiming to have a bowel movement a day is part of managing hormonal imbalance. Eating plenty of fibre especially from fruit and vegetables and wholegrains can improve your digestion and in turn help your body excrete excess oestrogen, too much of which can contribute to the perimenopause symptoms.

Feeling seedy?

Seeds are a great source of phytoestrogens – flax, chia, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin – take your pick. A few tablespoons a day as part of your diet may help with hormonal balance.

Eat Your Greens

All vegetables are good, of course. But cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, watercress, rocket and cauliflower may support the liver to detoxify oestrogen, helpful if your levels of this hormone are high.

Diet is just part of the picture. Lifestyle changes are also essential to weather this hormonal storm the best you can – that includes working on getting more and better sleep and learning to cope better with stress. Easier said than done, right? But finding small but consistent ways to deal with stress can have a huge impact on how your body copes. Self-care is not indulgent, it’s a coping mechanism and it’s vital. It can be as simple as 5 minutes of deep breathing when you wake up or before going to sleep (try breathing in for the count of 4 and slowly exhaling for the count of 7, and do it 10 times); it might be getting to that yoga class once a week, or even just making sure you get a walk around the park once or twice a week; it can be time with friends to share and laugh or time alone in a bath with your favourite podcast or your favourite magazine – or all of the above!

Gwynnie stood up not long ago and said, “Hey world, I’m experiencing perimenopause,” (I paraphrase) but she was jovial when she said it. True, she was talking about it to promote her Goop menopause supplement, BUT she said that menopause needs a ‘re-brand’ and I think that’s true.

When our mums went through menopause, it was “going through the change”, a phrase most likely mouthed with dramatic emphasis rather than spoken out loud and was generally endured with misery and often sadness. But menopause is not a disease. It’s a process which our bodies are designed to go through.

So, remember, menopause is the destination, perimenopause is the journey – so post-menopause should be Shangri-La. Right? I hear women say they feel great to be through the other side. My job is to make the journey to post-menopause less stressful, less overwhelming and well, just, less. Let’s work on that together.

If you are experiencing any symptoms that concern you, please see your GP.

 

 

Will seed cycling sort my period problems?

Can eating seeds improve our periods?

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

That’s the premise of seed cycling. Whether your hormonal misery is PMS or perimenopause, if you have a menstrual cycle, you can try it. Seed cycling is the practice of eating specific seeds, in a prescribed quantity, in each phase of your cycle, to support hormone balance. It uses flaxseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds.

Beginning on the first day of your cycle, you eat 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds and raw pumpkin seeds. Following ovulation, you switch to 1-2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. If you don’t know when you ovulate, switching at day 15 is recommended.

The idea is that the flax and pumpkin seeds support oestrogen production and hormone metabolism in the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, and then the sunflower and sesame support progesterone levels in your luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and your next period). That’s the theory. So, have I done it and what do I think? Honestly, no, I haven’t. Do I eat seeds every day? Pretty much, but I’m not prescriptive about it. Does eating those seeds have a positive effect on my menstrual cycle? Maybe. But I can’t be sure.

Let’s consider scientific research – well, there are no studies that I could find explicitly comparing the effect of seed cycling with any kind of control. However, an absence of specific studies on seed cycling does not equate to its potential value or lack of. It just means it hasn’t been studied YET. Now, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for it – by which I mean people saying that it’s helped them enormously and this, in my opinion, should not be disregarded either. If you just dip your Google toe into seed cycling, you’re going to find that women in huge numbers have tried this.

There are a decent number that considers the impact of flaxseeds on health and there is certainly literature that recommends ground flaxseed for hormonal balance. Take one period misery, menstrual cramps: the cause of period cramps may be due to excess prostaglandins, oestrogen dominance (too much oestrogen in your body, or your body not clearing oestrogen effectively), or inflammation. Seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which may help lower inflammation and tackle the effects of prostaglandins. Also, the lignans in the seeds may help support the elimination of oestrogen which helps reduce the chances of oestrogen dominance. Several studies have highlighted other benefits on hormonal health of ground flaxseeds:

1. Fewer anovulatory cycles in normal cycling women

2. Longer luteal phase with higher progesterone/oestradial ratio

So, it doesn’t seem like an outrageous suggestion that eating a few tablespoons of seeds might improve your cycle. They are little nutritional powerhouses. Upping your daily dose of these four – flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame - is going to help increase your dietary intake of zinc, omega 3, calcium and magnesium - and that’s all good. (Buy organic though to rule out pesticide residue.)

My professional opinion is that there are any number of interventions that can improve hormonal problems for women, both dietary and lifestyle. I would always suggest that if you are having problems with your cycle, be it low mood, painful periods, breast tenderness or anxiety, consulting a qualified and registered nutritional therapist will give you 1:2:1 tailor-made care that is more likely to garner results than just trying one thing, like upping your seed intake each day. But hey, give seed cycling a go for a few periods and see if you find any benefits and be sure to let me know if you do! Remember, pay attention to the bigger nutrition picture too – good hormonal balance requires lots of good quality protein, healthy fats, eating the rainbow, good sleep and keeping your sugar, caffeine and booze to a minimum.

Period cravings

If your period is due, you’re almost certainly on the hunt for junk. A bar of chocolate. Party bag of cookies. Six pack of Frazzles. Whatever it is you’re craving, it all comes down to the same thing - being pre-menstrual and wanting to eat junk food go hand-in-hand for many women and for some it feels like a battle each and every month.

So, what’s the deal? Well, there are various theories on this, but not an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence.

Read More

"Periods are meant to hurt. Right?"

Your period has started, and you feel like someone has applied a clamp somewhere deep in your womb. And the clamp is tightening. It hurts. What you really want to do is crawl under a blanket on the sofa and watch trashy TV.

If this is you for a few days every month, you’re not alone. But your period does not need to hurt.

Read More

“Do I have to give up coffee?”

This question usually comes at me with a side order of mumma attitude. What is sacrosanct to most knackered mums? Caffeine, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. We’ll talk about the other two another day – but for now let’s talk about coffee.

Right. Caffeine. Evil genius or much maligned superhero? Well, there’s been tons of research on caffeine.

Read More

Overwhelm

I hear this word quite a bit. I hear it in my own head and from the mouths of friends and clients.

How many of us feel overwhelmed at home but manage to go out into the world, to work, or to the school gates and smile when someone, walking past, brightly asks how you are.

“Fine, thanks!” Even though the truth is nowhere near fine. But we’ve managed to get dressed and get out the door – so how bad can it be?

Read More

My favourite turmeric latte

A turmeric latte a coffee house speak for warm milk and turmeric. It’s a recent craze but one I’m happy to embrace. Spices are a wonderful, easy, inexpensive way to bring health benefits to our diet. These 4 can all go into your homemade turmeric latte and are my absolute favourites for warmth and nourishment.

Here’s the recipe:

Read More