PMS and how to fight it with nutrition!
What to know about PMS?
First and foremost is the fact that just because it’s COMMON it doesn't mean it's NORMAL!!!
PMS has been part of many jokes, but we all know that it’s no joke when it's happening to you. PMS is a constellation of many symptoms usually experienced two weeks before menstruation which disappear once the bleeding starts.
It can have both physical and mood symptoms, including: cramps, bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, gut issues, cravings, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
Over 90% of women in their childbearing years claim that they have PMS symptoms (one or many), monthly. (1) Symptoms can vary from mild to debilitating when these women have to skip work or school. Most of us think that this is normal and the solution is to pop ibuprofen or birth control pill to ease the symptoms but the truth can't be further from that.
PMS is caused by hormone imbalance (most commonly estrogen dominance, due to progesterone deficiency or it can be due to low estrogen levels). Getting to the root of the imbalance and supporting the body to regulate these hormones is the key to sustainably fix this problem.
Nutrient deficiencies, over exercising, sedentary lifestyle, post birth control pill syndrome, lack of sleep, high stress can all play a role in PMS. The same way diets high in sugar, refined carbs, non-organic meats, dairy, caffeine and alcohol can also contribute.
On the other hand a diet rich in leafy greens, vegetables, adequate protein, healthy fats and fiber will help to balance your hormones, your blood sugar and reduce PMS symptoms.
Nutrients for a PMS free life!
Omega- 3 rich foods: Omega-3 has great anti-inflammatory properties which can come in handy to alleviate PMS cramps.(9) Compounds called prostaglandins are released before the period starts.Their role is to contract the uterus in order to loosen the endometrial lining from its wall, which can cause inflammation and cramping.
Food sources: fatty fish such as salmon, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds.
Supplements: good quality, sustainably sourced cod liver oil such as Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, or Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil or an algae based supplement if you don't eat fish.
Fiber rich foods: Fiber helps curbing your cravings by making you feel satiated for longer. If you are experiencing constipation before your period, fiber is your best friend for regulating bowel movements. Fiber is also crucial for the elimination of excess estrogen through the bowel.
Food sources: all plants are rich in fiber, the best are whole grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, legumes, leafy vegetables, crunchy vegetables,fruits, nuts and seeds.
Magnesium rich foods: Mg plays several important roles in the health of our bodies and mind. It is also shown to reduce PMS symptoms such as cramping, headaches, water retention and sleep problems.(2,3)
Food sources: dark chocolate, Yayy! (it has to contain 70% or more cacao, though) nuts, seeds like pumpkin seeds, avocado and dark leafy greens.
Supplementation: Magnesium Glycinate 300-600 mg, nightly.
Vitamin B6 rich foods: this vitamin is essential to reduce the occurrence of PMS. Magnesium together with B6 shown to be very effective to alleviate PMS symptoms.(2) Luckily many foods contain vitamin B6 and I suggest to try these before supplementation. B6 supplementation of 200 mg or more daily, over an extended period of time can cause toxicity and nerve damage.(4)
For the right dose, consult a healthcare professional before supplementing.
Food sources: eggs, chicken, fish, red meats, leafy greens, grains, bananas, watermelon, nuts and seeds.
Selenium rich foods: this micronutrient is crucial for adrenal health, thyroid hormones, the development of the corpus luteum and therefore progesterone production.
Food sources: fish, seafood, organ meats and brazil nuts, egg, sunflower seeds, spinach, chicken.
Supplementation: 200 mcg, daily.
Vitamin C rich foods: this vitamin as we all know is super important for immune health, but guess what? It also can boost progesterone levels.
Food sources: acerola cherry, peppers, guava, kale, parsley, collard, broccoli, cabbage, persimmon, strawberries, papaya, orange, lemon
Supplementation: suggested to keep “bowel tolerance” (until it induces diarrhea) in mind. 100-400 mg, daily to maintain levels. Recommended forms for better absorption: buffered C (Ca & Mg added), Ester-C/ Esterified C or liposomal vitamin C.
Water: dehydration can cause PMS symptoms. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. How much water do you need? Halve your weight (lbs), the amount you get is the minimum you should be drinking daily, in ounces. E.i. if you are 150 lbs, you should be drinking a minimum of 75 oz of water.