Does PMS have you feeling Sad & Worthless?

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If you’re a woman and you’ve ever experienced even an ounce of PMS, you know that it sucks—period!  *No pun intended… I won’t sugar coat it or put pink frills on it, like they do in those ridiculously lame tampon commercials.  If you suffer from PMS, life for the week or two leading up to your period can be an absolute nightmare.

But wait- don’t panic, it’s not you, it’s YOUR HORMONES!

It is believed that up to 75% of North American women suffer from PMS, also known as premenstrual syndrome.  When those PMS blues hit they can totally disrupt your daily ability to function and have even been known to destroy relationships in some of the worst cases.  But good news ladies!  You don’t have to accept your painful period fate!  There is so much we can do to help ease the effects of our monthly lady friend.

One of the most common kinds of PMS is accompanied by feelings of sadness, depression and/or low self-worth and occurs 1-2 weeks leading up to your period.  It’s not you— it’s your unbalanced hormones!  A lot of women suffer from this kind of PMS due to low levels of serotonin.

SEROTONIN is that feel good neurotransmitter that our brain produces to make us feel happy, calm, chill and even helps manage our appetite.  Essentially the more serotonin we produce, the better we can expect to feel all around.  Love it and want it!

Low serotonin has essentially been linked to almost all the conditions that manifest in PMS: sleep problems, depression, anxiety, aggression, binge eating, temperature, lower libido and pain.

There are several ways to increase your body’s serotonin production:

A very common medical model/Western medicine solution to this problem is to take an anti-depressant, also known as a selective serotonin-uptake inhibitor (SSRI).  This is a typical example of the over-prescription issue we are facing today by our medical doctors for women dealing with depressive symptoms as a result of PMS.  

The problem with this type of treatment is that it is a short-term solution without actually helping the body to continually increase its own serotonin production.  Eventually the effect can wear off and a higher dosage is needed more and more over time.

Birth control is also often prescribed for treating PMS, which like the SSRI’s, are a quick-fix band-aid solution and can even further complicate a woman’s body in the long run.  Unfortunately much like the SSRIs, birth control does not treat the root of the issue and can leave you potentially feeling better initially, but unresolved in the long run.

This solution is well, not really a  solution at all in my opinion as a professional healthcare practitioner.   They do not address or resolve the ROOT CAUSE of the problem at hand.  They don’t acknowledge how to prevent the problem from coming back again and again and allow us to “pop a pill” in hopes that our problem with disappear…

There is however a way to increase the body’s serotonin production NATURALLY through food or in the next best solution, through supplementation.

Here are my top 3 favourite dietary tips for naturally increasing your serotonin production.

  1. Add fish oil to your diet.  Fish oil contains DHA, a component believed to be involved in serotonin metabolism.  If you are already prone to depression or feeling sad this is the one food/supplement I highly recommend.  Food sources for fish include: wild salmon, mackerel, halibut and sardines.  If you’re having a hard time chowing down on fish, opt for supplement based oil from a liquid form.  Try a flavoured fish oil to avoid any yucky taste.
  1. Increase your intake of tryptophan-rich foods.  Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin.  Foods highest in tryptophan include:  almonds, asparagus, black beans, chicken, chickpeas, cod, halibut, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, salmon, sardines, sesame seeds, shrimp, spinach, split peas, sunflower seeds, turkey, and walnuts.  Meat and dairy also contain high amounts of tryptophan.
  1. More B6.  Tryptophan is great for helping us make serotonin but there is another piece to the puzzle.  In order for the body to make this conversion, we need vitamin B6 and carbohydrates.  If you suffer from PMS you sure as heck cannot afford to cut out the carbs like so many woman do.  Carbohydrates (of the right kinds- oatmeal, quinoa, veggies) are going to save you from being a total rage-pants and biting off your partner’s head.  Whatever you do- do not run a low-carb diet on your body if you have PMS.  Include B6-rich foods: avocado, bananas, barley, beans, beef, chicken, brown rice, greens, hazelnuts, peppers, squash and quinoa

Food is only way one of the many ways to address PMS naturally.  In part II of this segment I’m going to expose other natural way to boost serotonin in order to improve your mood and keep you smiling all month-long even among the chaos, rage and hair pulling…

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