How to prevent or reduce PMS?

In the past, I've felt frustrated when I experience discomfort prior to getting my period. Can you relate to the feeling of just wanting to curl up into a small ball or dig into chocolate cravings? PMS, which stands for pre-menstrual syndrome, can be felt through symptoms ranging from headaches to bloating to cravings and moodiness. By working with my Ayurvedic doctor I learned that PMS doesn’t need to be a reality of being a woman. 

 

In fact, when our bodies are in balance and internal systems flow, the pain and discomfort subside. Through trial and success, I’ve discovered more healthy and natural ways in preventing and working with PMS symptoms.

What’s my best advice on how to live healthy?

Listen to your body. Your intuition will tell you what it needs to thrive and what its optimal balance is. Don’t forget that your optimal balance will change as your needs do and as you evolve over the course of your life.

The foundation for a healthy body can be achieved by eating fresh, clean whole foods that support your body’s energy needs. But eating well is not necessarily about making sacrifices and severe restrictions every day. In my work as a Holistic Health Coach, I encourage my clients to take an 80-20 approach to foods.

 

If we can enjoy foods that support our energy needs and natural detoxification systems for most meals, we will feel and look amazing. This creates a 20% space for the special occasions where we can enjoy foods that may not serve our biological bodies but act more like ‘soul foods’ – i.e. sharing a piece of glorious chocolate cake with a good friend, going for an ice cream cone on a sweltering Shanghai summer day, going for that bucket of popcorn at family movie night and celebrating a birthday with champagne. The word ‘diet’ is not a shame word, it simply describes your personal choice and style of eating.

In the past, I've felt frustrated when I experience discomfort prior to getting my period. Can you relate to the feeling of just wanting to curl up into a small ball or dig into chocolate cravings? PMS, which stands for pre-menstrual syndrome, can be felt through symptoms ranging from headaches to bloating to cravings and moodiness. By working with my Ayurvedic doctor I learned that PMS doesn’t need to be a reality of being a woman. 

 

In fact, when our bodies are in balance and internal systems flow, the pain and discomfort subside. Through trial and success, I’ve discovered more healthy and natural ways in preventing and working with PMS symptoms.

Here are my top tips for preventing PMS symptoms before they start:

1.Cutting inflammatory foods in your diet

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According to NHS (National Health Service), PMS pain is caused by CRP (c-reactive protein). This protein is produced by the liver and its levels will rise when there is inflammation in body. Therefore, by decreasing the intake of inflammatory food, the PMS pain can subside as well. 

 

Common inflammation triggers include gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol. I consistently notice that when I eat gluten in the days before my period, my symptoms are aggravated.

2. Sleeping for as long as you need

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Sleep is extremely important for hormone balancing. When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies are not able to metabolize and filter out excess levels of various hormones. Additionally, the stress hormone cortisol rises when rest levels fall. 

 

During our menstrual cycle, specific hormones are present for regulation so it is extremely important to get the rest your body needs. For improved sleep, try to avoid screens and heavy meals in the 2-3 hours before bedtime. Sleep in a colder room and block out any light that may disrupt you.

3. Keeping your blood sugar balanced

Keeping an even blood sugar level is linked with reduction of PMS symptoms. Insulin, a hormone produced by your body to regulate your blood sugar level, is correlated with low levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG is in charge of preventing high estrogen levels that can lead to PMS symptoms. 

 

Each food has a unique impact on your blood sugar levels. Certain foods like high sugar fruits, refined carbohydrates and alcohol lead to dramatic blood sugar spikes. Fiber-rich veggies, whole grains, good fats and clean proteins are linked with more balanced blood sugar levels.

In the event they PMS does strike, here are my top tips for managing symptoms:

1. Increase intake of mineral rich foods

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There is logic behind why many of us crave chocolate: the high mineral content helps to relieve muscle cramping. Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports all functions in our bodies. Other minerals like zinc, iron and potassium are essential for muscle relaxation. A cramp is essentially a muscle contraction. Increase mineral-rich foods for soothing your body. 

 

If you crave sweets, opt for dark chocolate (min. 70-80%) to maximize health benefits. Other mineral rich foods include: spinach, quinoa, cashews, pumpkin seeds, oats, seaweed and avocado.

2. Stay hydrated

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Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, poor focus, and cravings for food. Often times, a stomach grumble actually indicates thirst, not hunger. As you eliminate during your period, this is the time to increase intake of water and water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, lettuce and celery.

 

Aim for 10 glasses of warm water each day and avoid diuretics like coffee or alcohol.

3. Get your stretch on

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Data (and personal experience) shows that physical activity can make a world of difference. Spend 15-20 minutes practicing yoga every day for relief of pain and discomfort.

 

There are many online resources like KEEP app and www.yogajournal.com where you can find videos focused on yoga during your lunar cycle. If putting on leggings doesn't feel good during this time of the month, go for a relaxed long walk. The WHO (World Health Organization) suggests that we get a minimum of 8000 steps per day to maintain good health. 

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With your game plan set, your PMS symptoms should get better. Additionally, all these practices will not only improve symptoms but also your inner glow. 

 

Inflammatory foods and high sugar foods are harmful to your skin and body. By resting more and increasing hydration, you will have more energy consistently and feel better throughout the month! 

 

These practices have worked so incredibly well for me, but with the principle of bio-individuality stating each person has their own unique bodily needs, you will have to try for yourself and experience what works.