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 PMS was NOT normal and just accepted it for what it was. But today I know better…
Up to 85%- 90% of all women experience some premenstrual symptoms 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, cramping, fatigue, irritability, mental fog, mood swings, sweet or salt cravings, acne, anxiety, depression, lack of coordination, swollen and painful breasts and fibrocystic breasts.
We have been conditioned by advertising, authority figures and drug companies 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 magically make our symptoms disappear. But the reality is that when you experience PMS your body is trying to relay a message that something inside your body is off balance.
As a Certified Nutritionist I can tell you that I have tried nearly every possible non-natural and natural/alternative healing modality out there to address my PMS. The birth control pill, pharmaceuticals, diet, acupuncture, massage, colon hydrotherapy, detoxes, bio-identical hormones, supplements, vitamins, herbs, energy work, exercise. You name and I have more than likely tried it.
In all my years in working with this condition on myself and with my clients I have learned what does and does not work and how to approach PMS naturally.
Rule of thumb as I always claim before dispelling any health advice or recommendations is that I am not a physician and I do not “prescribe” or make health claims. I recommend based on a thorough individual health assessment and analysis.
It’s also important to understand 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. We each require a unique and specific program plan according to our own personal needs and health history.
With that in mind, I will say that the best and most successful approach to PMS I have found hands down 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 can be different for every 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 any birth control solution or pharmaceutical drug 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, broccoli, 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 regular bowel movements.
In most cases of hormone imbalance, there is often a connection to a congested or under 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, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnip
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 one of the essential minerals for keeping the body calm, relaxed and flowing with ease. This mineral is depleted by stress, medications, the birth control pill, 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: Almonds, black beans, brazil nuts, broccoli, goat cheese, kale, kefir, navy beans, pumpkin seeds, salmon, sesame seeds, spinach, swiss chard, sunflower seeds, tahini
Balance Your Macronutrients
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein and fat. A lot of people jump on the diet train and start to neglect whole macronutrients 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 inflammation of the breasts and lower abdominal area.
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.