By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
PMS includes a range of physical and emotional symptoms that many women may experience in the lead up to a monthly visit from ‘Aunt Flo’.
Physical symptoms can include fatigue, acne, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, breast tenderness, food cravings, digestive upsets, fluid retention, headaches and/or migraines and emotional symptoms may include irritability, moodiness, teariness, depression and/or anxiety. These symptoms can be very mild for some women while they may be more severe for others. The length of time PMS symptoms can be experienced also varies greatly, it can be from ovulation (approximately day 14) up until menstruation or they can be for just a few days prior. Symptoms will generally resolve just before, during or after the period arrives and can vary for each women from cycle to cycle.
Manage your monthly symptoms with a healthy diet and lifestyle, particularly in the 2 weeks leading up to the period!
Tips for reducing those PMS symptoms:
1.) Include Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Eating a rainbow-rich diet ensures a high intake of anti-oxidants to reduce inflammation.
2.) Up Your Intake of Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin E: Fruits and vegetables rich in these nutrients are avocado, banana, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, chard (silverbeet), beets(beetroots), seaweeds, watercress, kale, carrot, cantaloupe(rockmelon), pineapple, figs, apricots and oranges .
3.) Reduce Full Fat Dairy, Grain-fed Meats, Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates.
4.) Reduce Your Salt Intake (particularly the hidden salt in processed foods): This will aggravate fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness and pain.
5.) Incorporate Diuretic Herbs: These can be added to your juices and meals and made as a tea such as parsley, watercress, dandelion leaves, celery seeds, celery + leaves to reduce fluid retention.
6.) Increase Essential Fatty Acids: Increasing your intake of these good fats may reduce PMS symptoms by reducing pro-inflammatory prostaglandins that aggravate PMS such as evening primrose oil, blackcurrent seed oil, borage oil, fish oils, hempseed oil, flaxseed oil and/or krill oil. Here is more on Good Fats.
7.) Exercise: Working out has a wonderful impact on reducing PMS symptoms particularly emotional symptoms.
8.) Maintain a Healthy Weight: A body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 will significantly contribute to PMS.
9.) Avoid Smoking: Smoking greatly increases PMS.
10.) Avoid a High Caffeine Intake: Caffeine can aggravate PMS by increasing breast tenderness, headaches and irritability.
11.) Limit Alcohol: Avoid this leading up to your period as it may aggravate PMS symptoms.
12.) Get Plenty of Sleep: Rest will certainly reduce the severity of symptoms.
13.) Relax and De-stress: Stress management is so important for good health, like spending time with loved ones, meditation, massage, yoga, tai chi or anything else that makes you happy.
14.) Beat Cramps: You can brew freshly grated ginger and chamomile flowers to ease menstrual cramps. Raspberry leaves can also help relieve menstrual cramps and symptoms.