We’ve all heard the old saying, “You are what you eat.” And it’s being proven true again and again. By extension, what we experience, through the functioning or dysfunction of our bodies, is also manifested through our menstrual cycles. For women experiencing symptoms of fibroids, which can include heavy bleeding and pain during their periods, menstruation is tough enough as it is. Here’s how to make PMS more manageable.
PMS is directly affected by your diet. Think back to your last junk food-eating binge. Close your eyes, relax and place yourself back into that incident. Now, how did you feel afterward… energized? Sluggish? Crabby? Chances are you had sharper ups and downs when powered by junk food rather than the more even keel you experience on a healthy, balanced diet.
Blood sugar and mood swings
(find a new intro to this paragraph without quoting a specific book or author – they won’t like that. The info is spot on, just work into the paragraph differently). Eat regularly throughout the day, as skipping meals leads to irritability as your blood sugar level drops. So, even when your hormones are giving you the blues for breakfast, take the first step to put something in your system to get it going on the way up, out of that hole.
Complex carbohydrates are a big boost to a better mood. These foods boost serotonin, the “feel good hormone” and include whole grains such as wheat berries, quinoa and popcorn. (Get creative with that popcorn, because dumping bundles of butter and salt on it will only have a negative effect on you.)
Important vitamins and minerals
PMS could be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. Eating cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach, mackerel fish and wild rice should help.
Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, ScD is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, having accomplished a good deal of enlightening research on the role of nutrition vis-à-vis PMS. To ease PMS symptoms, she recommends upping your intake of calcium and vitamin D, which are often found together. While these nutrients are essential for overall health and for women in particular, they seem to also affect the brain, easing symptoms of anxiety and depression, specifically linked to the menstrual cycle. Greek yogurt is in style right now and with its creamy consistency and high calcium content, it’s worth working this in as a regular feature of your diet.
Angela Lemond, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests eating foods high in the B family of vitamins to relieve the intensity of menstrual cramping. Foods on this list would include many types of fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes (such as peas, seeds and beans), chicken, turkey and salmon. Among the legumes, there is a special mention for chickpeas, as they provide the ideal boost of zinc to your system. Additionally, Ms. Lemond recommends eating foods high in omega-3 fats. Vitamins C, D, and E as anti-inflammatories, will also help you feel better. This list would again include salmon, as a fatty fish, as well as tuna, nuts, seeds and beans.
When bloating is an issue
While one might naturally shy away from high fiber foods in order to avoid the bloating associated with PMS, that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. High fiber foods such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and artichokes can actually ease bloating due to their high water content. Plus, eating these foods means your stomach is too full to snack on high salt foods, such as bagged snacks, which are promoters of water retention, leading to more bloating.
Alcohol is also something to avoid, as alcohol naturally dries out the body, causing you to retain excess fluids. Drinking can trigger cravings for junk food, which, again, puts you on an unhappy merry-go-round of PMS systems that most of us would rather avoid.
What SHOULDN’T I eat?
Some foods have been shown to be triggers to intensify PMS symptoms. The following are considered on this list: Trans and hydrogenated fats, potential food allergens, high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol.
So, it’s about that caffeine. While the sluggishness greets your mornings on a regular basis, for sure PMS mornings can have you racing for your cuppa. Think again. Caffeine wakes us up because it is a stimulant. Unfortunately, that same stimulant action also affects your uterus, stimulating stronger cramping than you would experience otherwise. If cramps are an issue for you, stick to decaf and caffeine-free, herbal teas during your time of the month.
What you SHOULD be drinking
… is water, and lots of it! Especially for women with heavy periods, a symptom of uterine fibroids, fluid loss can be significant. On top of that, estrogen and progesterone influence your body’s hydration levels. This necessitates drinking a few more cups of water a day to maintain hydration. The British Nutrition Foundation gives you a few options for sources of hydration, but plain drinking water is at the top of their list.
There are lots of suggestions out there to help with PMS. While many of them are contained in this article, the internet, your doctor and even your grandmother is certainly abound with suggestions; some are sane and some less so. At the end of the day, read through sound, medically-based advice, speak with your doctor and listen to your body. You’ll find the perfect keys to what works for you.