Does your monthly cycle sweep in quietly and take you by surprise, or do you KNOW well in advance when your period is coming without even looking at the calendar? If you’re like most women you fall on the latter end of this spectrum. Most also assume that having Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms is just the way it is, the plight of being a woman. Symptoms such as mood swings, pain, decreased energy, bloating, breast tenderness, abdominal cramping and more have become so normalized in our culture that we expect it.
If your monthly cycle hits you like a ton of bricks, you DON'T just have to suck it up and deal with. You have a lot of power to reduce the discomfort you feel as your cycle approaches. In this two-part blog series, I’ll provide 7 useful tips you can implement right away to reduce PMS symptoms.
Before we get to the tips, let’s briefly review what causes us to experience PMS symptoms. Although our bodies’ hormone interplay is complex, one primary reason for PMS symptoms is estrogen dominance. This can mean that our estrogen levels are too high or our estrogen levels are too high in relation to progesterone (this ratio is super important), or both. There are many root causes for elevated estrogen levels -- I’ll address some of them in context of the tips below.
If you’re experiencing PMS, consider taking some of these steps to improve your symptoms and get more of your life back.
1. Improve Detoxification – Your liver is responsible for making sure that you “use it and lose it” when it comes to estrogen. When estrogen hormones have served their purpose, they need to be removed from the body. So love up your liver.
Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy, as they support detoxification. You could also try roasted dandelion tea, a lovely liver tonic. Many women benefit from supplementing with DIM (Diindolylmethane) a phytochemical in broccoli that promotes production of protective estrogens and reduce the “bad” estrogens that can lead to breast and ovarian cancer. Since it’s challenging to eat a bushel of broccoli to get the concentration of DIM generally found in one capsule, some women find benefit in supplementation.
CLICK HERE to schedule a free supplement consultation to find out if DIM might be right for you.
2. Increase Fiber – Fiber is found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts. Fiber accompanies excess estrogens out of our bodies through our bowel movements. Aim for 35 grams of fiber daily, but increase SLOWLY, by 5 grams every 3 days or so to avoid digestive distress. Check out Nutrition Data to find out the fiber content in whole foods.
3. Reduce Xenoestrogens – Xenoestrogens are chemicals that can mimic estrogen and disrupt your hormone balance. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a xenoestrogen commonly found in plastics, and is also used to coat the interior of food cans. Avoid using plastic food containers if you can, and never microwave in plastic or put hot food into a plastic container, as the BPA can leach into your food.
Phthalates are industrial chemicals, and another xenoestrogen commonly found in flexible plastic as well as soaps and shampoos. Our skin is our largest organ and takes in a ton of toxins daily – choose safe skin and body care products and use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to find out the safety of personal care products you commonly use.
Wanting more ways to say goodbye to PMS? I’ll publish an additional 4 tips next week. I’ll also talk about alleviating your PMS symptoms once and for all on May 4th -- SIGN UP to join me in Albany, CA to learn eating and acupressure techniques for hormone balance. Or SCHEDULE a complimentary 30-minute Health-and-Hormone Jump-Start session for a more personalized assessment.
Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Gottfried, S. (2015). The Hormone Reset Diet. Harper Collins.
Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner.
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-
Have you heard that eating foods that are in season is valuable, but may not know the exact reasons why? Perhaps you're a person who vaguely notices the fruits and vegetables at Farmer’s Markets and some local supermarkets change over time, but don’t necessarily choose one item over another because it’s in season. Or you might be someone who looks forward to a certain season because your favorite fruit or veggie is available in abundance!
Although I have fond childhood memories of picking blackberries in the woods and helping my grandmother with her large garden, before I became a nutritionist, seasonal eating was not something I paid a whole lot of attention to. Now, after learning all the benefits, I am a regular at the local Farmer’s Market, and have become inspired to eat with the flow of nature. I’d like to share a few of my seasonal eating discoveries with you.
Eating seasonally is good for your body.
You’ll get more nutrients from local, recently picked, seasonal foods. Most foods reach their nutritional peak close to the time they are harvested, and many begin to lose their nutrient value after picking. If you’re shopping at a Farmer’s Market, it’s easy to get local, seasonal foods. But if you’re shopping at a grocery store, check the label to see the state or country of origin. The less distance that fruit or vegetable has had to travel the better.
I feel lucky to live in California and have an abundance of choices in all seasons, but you can find yummy, truly local food in most parts of the United States. What’s in season where you live? I’d suggest doing a Web search for “seasonal foods [your state or region]”. Find a website of a local agricultural organization, farmers’ coalition, or farm-share company – most will have charts of local seasonal foods by month.
Here in California, I’m excited about all the cruciferous vegetables we have in season now and throughout the year. Cruciferous vegetables support the liver so it can deal with all the toxins that come our way. The liver also processes and clears neurotransmitters and hormones that we no longer need, keeping you feeling good and your hormones stable.
Cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts and broccoli rabe are yummy vegetables currently in season in California. We can also enjoy cabbage, kale and cauliflower all year.
Eating seasonally is good for your long term health.
“Eating a seasonally based diet with lots of variety throughout the year is the cornerstone of preventive medicine,” said Dr. Preston Maring, a physician at Kaiser Permanente.(1) Dr. Maring finds his inspiration from multiple studies touting the benefits of eating an in-season, plant-focused diet, including reduced risks of cancer, better cholesterol numbers, improved vascular health, weight loss and more.
Eating seasonally is good for your soul.
Eating seasonally allows you to step into the flow of nature, rather than working against it. According to Stanford University’s Dr. Katie Curhan, studies have found that when interacting with nature humans experience reduced stress and anger, increased feelings of calmness, and “a more concrete awareness of the life cycle.” (2)
If you’re inspired, you can consider growing your own food, as gardening can be very meditative. Participating in meditative activities can activate our parasympathetic nervous systems, eliciting a greater sense of calm.
Interacting with our communities can be soothing to our souls too. You can connect with local farmers at your neighborhood Farmer’s Market, and spend time getting to know your neighbors.
Eating seasonally is good for the earth.
Local, seasonal produce can be farmed and harvested without too much extra effort and a reduced need for pesticides. Plus, local food doesn’t have to travel as far, positively contributing to our carbon footprint.
To learn more about the health benefits of eating seasonally, and the healing properties of specific foods, join me and my colleagues on Thursday, April 7 in Walnut Creek for The Healing Power of Nature. It’s a free, 90-minute workshop that you won’t want to miss! Learn more and RSVP...
Photo credit: Stacy Spensleyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/notahipster/4366374300/in/album-72157623010544930/