If PMS ever needed a PR publicist I would be it! Since my early teens I have been dealing with this unwarranted condition. Back then of course I had no idea that this was not so normal and just accepted it for what it was. But today I know better…
Up to 85%- 90% of all women experience at least one premenstrual symptom in their lifetime. So what is this thing we call PMS? PMS is short for pre-menstrual syndrome. It can include a list of a number of symptoms occurring 7-14 days prior to your period. These symptoms can include: bloating, cramps, fatigue, irritability, mental fog, mood swings, sweet or salt cravings, swollen breasts and more.
We have been conditioned to believe that PMS is a normal part of a woman’s life and that we can just pop a pill or take medication to suppress the symptoms. Well, I’m here to speak up and tell you that when you experience PMS your body is actually trying to relay a message that something is off balance and needs some TLC.
As a Holistic Nutritionist I can tell you that I have tried nearly every possible natural/alternative healing modality out there. Diet, acupuncture, massage, colonics, cleanses/detoxes, bio-identical hormones, supplements, exercise. You name and I’ve probably tried it. This thing called PMS has been stuck to me like glue and has refused to go away.
In all my years in working with this condition on myself and with my clients I have learned some seriously valuable lessons.
Rule of thumb as I always claim before dispelling any health advice or recommendations is that we are all unique and different and require individual approaches accordingly. What works for one person is not necessarily the best solution for another.
With that in mind, I will say that the best and most successful approach to PMS I have found hands down with 99% of my clients has been diet. This is great news because this does not require spending a ton of money of supplements and products from your local health food/grocery store. I’m talking food— natural, whole, real food.
With any type of PMS the key is to address the root cause of the issue in order to work with it, reduce it and/or eliminate it. Because the root cause will be different for different women, I can’t say there is a one-size fits all approach to addressing PMS.
What I can tell you is that diet and nutrition will trump nearly anything when it comes to addressing PMS. Your willingness to participate and engage in healthy eating behaviour in order to both prevent and manage your PMS will be your best tool to tackle this issue.
Here are 3 of my favourite and most successful food related tips for combating PMS:
Eat lots of Cooked Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous family, also known as the Brassica species, includes vegetables such as kale, cabbage, mustard greens and brussels sprouts. These vegetables have a protective effect on cancer and help to breakdown and eliminate excess estrogens, most often one of the main underlying causes of PMS. In particular, these vegetables have been shown in certain in vitro studies & clinical trials in women, to contribute to the protection of hormone dependent breast and cervical cancers.
These super food vegetables contain DIM (a breakdown product of Indole-3-carbon also known as I3C), a strong estrogen metabolizer. DIM helps the liver detoxify and break down estrogens and fat-soluble toxins, removing them through healthy and regular bowel movements.
In most cases of hormone imbalance, there is often a connection to a congested orunder functioning liver. In this case, the liver has difficulty clearing excess estrogen and toxins, which should get broken down and eliminated by the body. Instead, this excess estrogen gets reabsorbed along with other toxic waste metabolites back into our system causing symptoms of hormone imbalance and especially PMS.
Cruciferous Vegetables Include:
-Bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, rapini, collard greens, rutabaga, radish, arugula, daikon, wasabi, watercress
Ramp Up Your Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body next to calcium. Women with hormone imbalance, PMS in particular, are often deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral abundant in the body and is one of the essentials for keeping the body calm, relaxed and flowing with ease. This mineral is depleted by stress, coffee, refined carbohydrates and acidity in the body.
Along with B6, magnesium plays an important role in relaxing muscles and blood vessel spasms preventing cramping & migraine headaches. Magnesium acts as a diuretic in which helps preventing bloating and fluid retention as well as helping to reduce cravings for sweets.
Best Magnesium-Rich Foods:
–raw cacao, flax seeds, chia seeds, kale, almonds, broccoli, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, tahini, collard greens, spinach (cooked), black beans, halibut, oats, brazil nuts
Balance Your Macronutrients
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein and fat. A lot of people jump on the diet train and start to neglect whole macronutrient groups. By completing cutting out certain macronutrients we often end up leaving our body out of balance. A common macronutrient neglect I see often in my practice is people cutting out carbs for weight loss (I’ll save this discussion for another day to explain why this is a big no no, especially for women suffering from PMS).
When we completely cut out vital macronutrients such as carbohydrates (the primary source of fuel to our brains!), we mess with our system big time. Blood sugar becomes out of whack, creating super highs and lows and seriously affects our mood and thought process. Not enough protein can lead to difficulty producing sufficient hormones and not enough healthy fats in the diet can lead to brain fog, inability to concentrate and even poor wound healing.
By maintaining a healthy balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats you will help aid your body back into hormone balance. Remember too little of anything can be just as bad as too much. It’s all about balance.