Oh, the perils of being a woman! Did you know that almost 75% of women experience some level of PMS each month? This is NOT normal – women should NOT have to suffer every 4 weeks just because they’re women!
When we understand why PMS occurs, we can find ways to overcome it. I lived with PMS symptoms for years, thinking it was just part of life; then, I started to get breast fibroids and learned this can be a precursor to breast cancer. I am scared sh*tless of breast cancer so I made it my mission to do even more to prevent it! I cleaned up my diet, focusing specifically on foods shown to improve PMS and reduce cancer risk, and I have not had fibroids since. That was almost 4 years ago.
What does cause PMS?
Well, there are some high-level causes like poor diet, improper nutrient intake and/or assimilation, toxin exposure, and excess weight that can make PMS worse.
However, there are three main root causes of PMS symptoms that should be addressed first: poor liver detoxification, stress, and hormonal imbalances.
Let’s start with hormonal imbalances. PMS usually occurs because we have too much estrogen and not enough progesterone, and the symptoms result from sensitivity to these fluctuating hormones.
Stress increases this hormonal imbalance because stress hormones use up resources needed to produce estrogen and progesterone. Stress further exacerbates PMS because it can lead to unstable blood sugar in women, leading to cravings for foods that don’t support reproductive health.
Our livers detoxify all the time but sometimes the liver can’t keep up. Toxins in food, prescription and OTC drugs, water, air and beauty products add burden to our livers. It all adds up!
Our livers need very specific nutrients to properly detoxify our hormones, but our livers first breakdown external toxins, which uses up all the nutrients they need for hormonal detoxification.
The good news is that you can do something to reduce your PMS symptoms naturally!
- Consume fermented foods and soluble fiber to feed and maintain a healthy gut.
Without a healthy gut, the foods you eat do not get broken down properly and the nutrients don’t get absorbed. Instead, toxins are absorbed and sent to the liver.
Eat probiotic foods like plain yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and miso, along with soluble fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps absorb detoxified substances and remove them from the body. Try a daily probiotic supplement that contains acidophilus, which breaks down estrogen metabolites in the body.
- Supply your liver with lots of health-promoting nutrients.
Your liver needs a lot of nutrients to keep up with its 500 daily jobs! Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are all great for getting the nutrients the liver needs. And, don’t forget protein! Our livers definitely need adequate, high quality protein to do their job.
Try to avoid ingesting added toxins too. Eat organic where possible, and avoid antibiotics, steroids, hormones and other additives in meats, eggs and dairy products. And stay away from all types of processed foods because they are full of toxins!
- Get enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D from the right sources.
If you take a supplement, make sure it contains calcium citrate along with magnesium and vitamin D3. These 3 nutrients rely on each other for uptake and assimilation.
Avoid dairy because dairy actually blocks the uptake of magnesium. Get calcium and magnesium from leafy greens, salmon bones, nuts, seeds, and whole grains instead.
- Up your B vitamin intake.
A good B complex is your best bet because these vitamins really work best when taken together. The liver loves B vitamins. B vitamins are kind to the adrenals and help reduce stress. And, they help reduce water retention and improve oxygen flow to the reproductive organs, reducing pain and cramping.
- Exercise regularly.
This may sound counter-intuitive when you’re keeled over in pain but exercise is great for PMS! Even walking for half an hour each day gets blood flowing, nutrients moving and oxygen circulating. Exercise is also amazing at improving mood, so when you start to feel irritated or angry, get outside and go for a walk!
PMS symptoms can also arise from an imbalance in your serotonin (a mood regulating hormone) and melatonin. Try to increase your intake of melatonin-forming foods because melatonin improves sleep and helps balance estrogen levels.
As women, we deserve to be happy and pain free all month long! Don’t you agree?