Welcome to Q & A Thursday Nutrition Junkies! This week’s question comes from Liz in Hamilton.
Liz asks: Every month since I was a teenager, I have been experiencing heavy, painful and just terrible periods. I dread it every month! Is this normal?
A. Despite what most of us women have been told about our periods, these uncomfortable symptoms are NOT normal. Far too many women are suffering with awful, painful and even debilitating monthly periods and it is one my missions in this life to educate women to understand that they don’t have to live like this.
This is not “just part of being a woman” nor is it something we have to suffer through. For years dating back as early as the sixties, media including commercials, magazine ads and billboards have been telling women our monthly symptoms related to our periods including PMS, cramps, headaches, bloating and so on, are “normal” and we just have to deal with it.
Well, guess what? This is a bunch of bologne! When we experience symptoms it is a sure sign that something is out of balance. The body speaks to us through these symptoms. The symptoms will only continue to get louder and more abrupt the longer we ignore them. Heavy, painful and long periods are a definite sign that there is some kind of imbalance occurring in the body and more specifically, likely a hormonal imbalance. Our periods should be painless, effortless and certainly not leave us under house-arrest because we can barely move from point A to B.
Symptoms: When our hormones are unbalanced it can result in symptoms such as the ones mentioned above,. Other symptoms may include: fatigue, weight gain, irritability, mood swings, acne, abdominal pain, insomnia, foggy thinking, breast swelling, low back pain, poor memory, hot flashes and night sweats.
The Solution? Unfortunately most women who report these symptoms go to their doctor are handed a prescription for the pill or just as worse anti-depressant to uplift their mood. The solution is not a solution at all. This does not address the underlying cause of why the symptoms are happening in the first place. In many cases, the pill can often make things worse or better initially and then all the symptoms come flooding back once the woman goes off the pill. Looking into the root cause as to why these symptoms are occurring in the first place is the best place to start.
The Good News? The majority of these symptoms stem form hormonal imbalances. The good news is there a lot we can do to put our hormones back into check. Eat a healthy balanced diet focused on fresh, whole, organic foods primarily from plant-based foods including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds & legumes and lean animal protein from wild fish, antibiotic & hormone free chicken, beef and eggs.
The Role of Stress: Stress almost always plays a role in hormone balance. Find a way to reduce and minimize the stress in life through an activity or hobby you enjoy. Things like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, reading and exercise are excellent stress coping strategies. Find one that works best for you and that you truly enjoy so that you will be more apt to stick with it.
Xenoestrogens: Avoid as much as possible xenoestrogens. These are fake estrogens that mimic our body’s own production of estrogen. Xenoestrogens are found in things like plastics, non-organic produce, commercial meat and dairy, tap water, tin cans, beauty products, cleaning products, the birth control pill, HRT and much more. Try to avoid ore minimize these xenoestrogens as much as possible.
Most women depending on the severity of their symptoms and what they are experiencing will most often require supplementation. This will be dependent on the individual factors that may require further investigation and an assessment.
Vitamins: Generally speaking B vitamins and magnesium are vital for supporting adrenals (often linked to hormone imbalance) and will combat stress. If your periods are heavy or bleed for an extended period of time, more than 4 days you may want to have your iron checked to see where you ferritin and hemoglobin levels stand. Women who bleed heavily have a greater chance of iron deficient anemia.
GLA: If you are experiencing painful periods with lots of cramping, you will want to consider looking into supplementing with GLA (gamma linolenic acid) found in highest concentration in borage oil. This is something that must be supplemented with as we cannot obtain it in high enough quantities from food. Fish oil can also help with this to an extent.
For more awesome information, tips and tools on combating PMS and finding hormone balance in your life join me next FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23 for an incredible workshop in Toronto on Hormone Balancing for Women: From Nutrition to Natural Contraception. And, it’s FREE! Check out details and registration here.
For more information on hormone imbalance grab a copy of our E-guide: CRAZY SEXY HORMONES: The Ultimate Guide to Women’s Health.
If you have a question about nutrition or women’s health email us: firstname.lastname@example.org