Being a female is interesting in so many ways: regarding our hormonal cycle, it can be a major roller coaster and a life-long one at that! After forty years of hormonal ups and downs, I can honestly say FINALLY! It is over for me. Ahhh… no more period cramps, headaches, sore boobs, bleeding, cravings, and pregnancies – YAY! There must be a positive side to getting old! Nice for you, I hear you say, but I am in my 20s/30s/40s and nowhere near hormonal retirement. And yes, I agree, you should not suffer!

Ok I am a little over the top here, but trust me, I had my ‘moments’ and looking back, the common denominator for hormonal symptoms was always stress. As we are all regulated by hormones (yep, men as well!!), we need to look into our stress levels: are you constantly under time pressure, having to reach targets, deadlines, 12 hour schedules, running or driving around your family, trying to squeeze everything into one day?? Then you totally need ME time, and not just once a year, but regularly, on a daily basis. HELLO, I hear you say, WHEN am I supposed to do that?? Let’s have a look: in the morning, before the zoo comes to life, husband demands God knows what, and before your busy mind starts to bombard you with the long list of ‘to dos’. Do some deep breathing while you still pretend to sleep, even 10 minutes every morning. Visualize yourself being in total balance, relaxing as you breathe and release tension. If you are not familiar with meditation, plug in some relaxation music used for mediation and seek out a quiet place in your home or outside (weather permitting). Start a Yoga class, maybe once a week. It is important to surround yourself with sounds that balance and centre. In other words, do the opposite of what you MUST do every day. And yes, I know, it requires a change of mind, as I hear you scream: I don’t have any time!! Sorry, I have to dig my heals in here: we all have 24 hours, and trust me, you DO have 10-15 minutes a day to yourself. It is a priority and not an option. Or go for a run early in the morning if you feel the need. Ok, enough about this, but hey, think about getting a massage once in a while J

What are your eating habits like? If you drink a lot of coffee, or other stimulating beverages, alcohol, and eat irregular, maybe crave sweets early afternoon, then you definitely need to consider changing your diet plan. Being organised is vital, and takes a lot of stress away when you have meals lined up for your family. Don’t be a pressure cooker after rushing home from work! Plan your weekly meals and then enjoy prep time when you are at home. Sit with your family and enjoy quality time with your partner and kidz. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, avoid the nasties, such as sugar, white flour, and products made with the ‘white stuff’. That will greatly help you to avoid menstrual problems.

Are you suffering from cramps? Here are foods that provide magnesium, a vital mineral that works wonders to help alleviate any spasms and cramps in the body: Brazil nuts, almonds, and other nuts, pawpaw, taro, sweet corn, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, molasses.

Other important nutrients are B-vitamins, particularly B6, and also B12, if you tend to go low in iron levels. A straight iron tablet is often not absorbed properly, which is associated with low B-12 levels. This can be easily checked by a blood test. If you tend to have low iron levels due to excessive bleeding, eat green leafy vegetables, pawpaw, eggs, oysters, and some red meat. Take vitamin C with your food as this vitamin helps with assimilation of iron. Avoid tea and coffee during, and up to 1 ¼ hours after a meal to absorb more iron. (Be careful when suffering from haemochromatosis, which is a condition where the body cannot absorb iron, meaning excess iron levels in the blood – a potentially dangerous situation. It requires increased zinc intake to protect against an excess of iron.)

Can’t get enough of carbohydrates, particularly sweets and chocolate?

Again, think magnesium (in case of chocolate), and insulin imbalance. If you have a sweet tooth ‘that time of the month’, then you need to look at chromium deficiency. Chromium is required to process the sugar we consume. The more sugar in our diet, the more chromium we need! Refined sugar has NO nutrients and is acting like a black hole: it sucks all the goodies from our body – as opposed to fruit sugars and honey. A great ‘side effect’ of sufficient chromium levels is balanced cholesterol levels. Chromium deficiency plays a major role in adult-onset Diabetes. Sufficient chromium levels contribute to healthy cholesterol and insulin levels. Natural sources of chromium are: kiwifruit (high!), most other fruits, scallops (yay!), Paua, brewers yeast.

Overall, a balanced mineral and vitamin status is highly beneficial to a healthy female cycle. Please remember that deficiencies occur with continuous stress levels, as the body needs a lot more ‘fuel’ during times of stress! Therefore, supplementation might be beneficial to keep healthy bodily functions on an even keel. As mentioned above, you really need to get into relaxation techniques to manage all the exciting life events – lets face it, we all have to tackle challenges every day for years to come, so we might as well get used to it and allow relaxation and recovery to stay on top of the game!