Did you know that 75 percent of women suffer from premenstrual syndrome during “that time of the month”? That means three-fourths of women everywhere are dealing with headaches, lower back pain, mood swings, bloating, and fatigue for 25 percent of their lives.
This can threaten our relationships (guys reading this might be shaking their head..yesss…), productivity, and our overall sense of well-being. Many women just accept this to be a normal byproduct of female hormones, but that is not true and doesn’t have to be the case!
Many things make the imbalance worse like refined sugar and carbohydrates, excessive caffeine and stress, and the added hormones found in low-quality dairy and meat.
We also have estrogen-like toxins from plastic and BPA consumption, pesticides, and pollution.
Alcohol consumption at this time of the month, and in general, can make PMS worse because it has to be processed through the liver and can prevent the liver from excreting excess estrogen.
So, what’s the solution? There are four relatively simple ways to overcome PMS naturally so you can float right through “that time of the month” without feeling poorly.
1) Food as Medicine to the Rescue!
- Stop eating refined flour, sugar, gluten, and processed foods.
- Decrease caffeine and alcohol.
- Balance your blood sugar by eating protein, such as a protein smoothie, pasture-raised eggs, nut butter, or avocado for breakfast.
- Don’t skip meals. Lunch is an easy one to skip, which leads to poor snack and dinner choices later on.
- Don’t eat three hours before bedtime. Give your body a chance to rest without digesting.
- Cut down on dairy products and when you do consume them, consume grass-fed and raw whenever possible.
- Increase fiber in your diet from vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Two tablespoons of ground flax, hemp, or chia seeds a day are especially helpful in correcting constipation and balancing hormones because the increase in fiber will pull out excess estrogen of the body. Put your seeds in a smoothie or sprinkle them on salads, soups, or oatmeal.
- Increase omega-3 fats by eating more wild fish like sardines, herring, and wild salmon, as well as omega-3 eggs and walnuts. This will trigger your anti-inflammatory response and keep pain manageable to hopefully help you avoid ibuprofen.
- Eat organic food, especially animal products, to avoid environmental estrogens from pesticides.
2) Fill in Nutrient Gaps with High-Quality Supplements
A number of supplements have been shown to help ease PMS symptoms by improving metabolic function and hormone metabolism. Here are the superstars:
- Magnesium citrate or glycinate — Take 400 to 600 mg a day.
- Vitamin B6 — Take 50 to 100 mg a day along with 800 mcg of folate and 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.
- Evening Primrose Oil — Take two 500mg capsules twice a day.
- EPA/DHA (omega 3 fats) — Take 1,000 mg once or twice a day for hormonal balance and for inflammation reduction.
- Replace healthy bacteria in the gut to help normalize estrogen and hormone metabolism. Take 5 to 10 billion live organisms in a daily probiotic supplement.
3) Get Moving
Exercise is very important for balancing hormones. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise where you reach your target heart rate, 3 to 4 times a week. Also keep up with things like walking, yoga, Pilates, or strength training.
4) Address and Mitigate Stress
Dealing with stress is critical for all aspects of our health but especially comes into play when talking about hormones and PMS. Take a hot bath at night, get a massage, try yoga, learn deep breathing or meditation. These techniques and others can help balance hormones and cutting down on caffeine, sugar, and refined foods will certainly help with capacity to handle stress because when we aren't eating well, we are less prepared to deal with day-to-day stressors.