Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition leading a huge percentage of women to experience headaches, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, intense cravings and sore breasts just before their period.
Whilst it’s completely natural to experience changes in your energy and moods throughout the month, it’s not OK to be feeling really rotten in the lead up to menstruation and there is plenty we can do to help us feel more stable.
PMS can be caused by having too much oestrogen or too little progesterone and it’s absolutely vital that we support these hormones back into balance.
Swap out refined carbs
When we eat processed food and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, cakes and cereal we’re sending our blood sugar sky-high. This can have a long-term impact on our stress hormones which in turn affects oestrogen and progesterone. To prevent massive peaks and dips in our blood sugar, it’s important that we upgrade our carbs. Simply swapping to wholegrains like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and starchy vegetables like squashes, carrots, potatoes and parsnips can make a massive difference and give us a slower release of natural sugars into the blood. We’re also getting extra fibre from these foods, which helps eliminate a build-up of excess oestrogen when we have a bowel movement.
Balance your blood sugar by eating more protein
Eating protein with every meal stabilises blood sugar. Protein can be found in fish, meat, eggs, beans and pulses, but a great way of getting protein in is by adding some collagen. Protein is also really important as it’s a building block for our hormones and can help progesterone levels.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine
It sounds intense but actually I’ve seen huge changes in mood and hormone health when this is pulled out of the diet. Excess oestrogen and toxins are filtered out of the body via our liver but when we consume alcohol and caffeine, it has to work overtime to remove these from our body. The detoxification process slows down and oestrogen isn’t being eliminated as efficiently. Caffeine can also raise stress hormones in our body which has a knock-on effect for progesterone levels.
Get in the greens
Green vegetables help support our liver and when we eat more broccoli and kale we’re actually helping the elimination of excess oestrogen, and helping to keep our hormones nicely balanced.
Consider seed cycling
Seed cycling is a naturopathic remedy based on the idea that eating certain seeds at certain times can help restore hormonal harmony during your cycle. The first day of your cycle is the time to eat 1 tbsp of freshly ground flax seeds and 1 tbsp of ground pumpkin seeds a day up until your ovulation. From ovulation until your next bleed, try eating 1 tbsp ground sunflower seeds and 1 tbsp ground sesame seeds daily. You can boost this further by adding in an Omega 3 supplement to help reduce inflammation and balance your Omega 3-6 ratio.
Experiment with removing gluten and dairy
Going gluten and dairy free seems like a huge fad diet at the moment but these two ingredients tend to have quite a big effect on hormones. They are both common food sensitivities and can create low levels of inflammation throughout the body without you really knowing. The best thing to do is just take these ingredients out of the diet for 3-4 weeks and see how you feel. Remember to always check with your GP or healthcare professional before removing food groups altogether.
Work with our cycles
As women it’s really important to work with our bodies and understand that it’s completely natural to have ebbs and flows in our mood, focus and energy levels as the month goes on. In the lead up to our period, our hormones naturally drop along with our energy and moods. Historically, it was a time to go inwards and women would often retreat together during their bleeds. In our modern society we’ve forgotten all about cyclical living and giving ourselves time to restore. We just assume we can work and exercise at exactly the same pace throughout the month, but we’re just not designed this way. If we start to slow down when our body requires it then we can see magic happen. Just as plants have their time to bloom, so do we.
Once we understand how our body works and how to nourish it well, we can take that control back and love our cycles so much more. PMS doesn’t have to be so common and for me it’s such an exciting thing to be able to change how we feel on the inside.
Jodie Brandman is a registered Nutritional Therapist and specialist in female health and fertility. Her mission is to help you boost your mood, support your cycle and help you feel gorgeous and confident in your own skin. Read more from Jodie here.