While on a tea date with a friend last week our conversation landed on managing PMS symptoms and how we can rid ourselves of them completely.
It got me to thinking about how much we don't connect what we put into our bodies with how our bodies feel and react.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. Symptoms include feeling tired, acne, swollen breasts, headache and backache, anxiety, mood swings, tension or irritability, food cravings, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Causes of PMS symptoms can include poor diet, emotional stress, depression, food allergies, environmental toxins, thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances (Dr Axe). By adding nutritional food into our diet and creating a few healthy lifestyle habits we can actually change a lot of the things in the above list. We don't have to feel like crap and take medication. We can change things from the inside out.
A soul sister told me years ago that what you consume during the month has a great deal to do with how your lady time plays out each cycle. I'm reminded of this every time I go off the rails as I did this month. A few months ago I shook up my diet and moved towards a paleo/high fat & protein/no grains/loads of veg/no sugar diet and during a week of madness (I blame the Mercury Retrograde) all of the above went out of the window. Boy did I pay for it.
The top 5 things to help to manage your lady time:
Eat your greens throughout the month. Dark leafy veggies have a diuretic effect (make you pee which encourages toxins to be flushed from your body) and are an awesome source of iron, calcium and magnesium which can reduce cramping and other symptoms. Diet is really important. Be mindful that what you consume throughout the month effects your lady time, not just what you eat the week before!
Eat chocolate! And by chocolate I mean raw cacao with no fillers, milk ingredients or refined sugar. My favourite bars are from Chocosol and Giddy Yoyo. More often than not I tend to make my own recipe seeing as it's easy and quicker than getting to the local health food store. Cacao is full of magnesium which is something we need a lot of during our lady time.
Red Raspberry Leaf This is one of the most popular womb herbs. It has a toning, strengthening, and nourishing effect on the tissue and function of female reproductive tract. Make a tea and drink every day or so throughout the month, especially near to your lady time. It's very rich in minerals. A favourite blend of mine is red raspberry leaf with nettle and a touch of maple syrup.
Dong Quai Dong Quai is also known as female ginseng and has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in China, Japan and Korea. This is a really powerful herb that stimulates blood flow and chi (energy) in the body. Dong Quai has an antispasmodic property which helps out with cramps as it modulates the contractive rhythm of the uterus. Dong Quai is also an adaptogen which helps women to cope better with stress. By reducing stress, dong quai goes beyond restoring calm and ridding us of headaches, it also helps with hormonal balance. Please note that if you are on blood thinners, or are pregnant, it is not advised that you take Dong Quai.
Cut out the caffeine Caffeine can be great when you need a boost but if you're needing lots of pick me ups throughout the day, chances are that there may be something worth looking into. Caffeine isn't great for us ladies. In fact it actually aggravates our PMS symptoms. Caffeine does a lot to interfere with brain activity and even hormonal activity (read the in depth goings on here) which can dramatically increase and even worsen PMS symptoms. Try going without your usual caffeine dose for 30 days and see what it does to your cycle.
Essentially, having a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole foods (foods that come from the ground), cutting out the junk and highly processed foods (trans fats, hydrogenated fats, high in sugar, high in salt), with good sleep and lots of water will improve PMS symptoms. Honourable mentions of foods to include are avocados, ground flax seeds, high fibre foods and wild caught fish rich in omega 3s. All will help the body to heal itself naturally. Listening to your body and paying attention to the messages it gives you will also help you to give your body what it needs. I wrote something about that recently here if you'd like to know more about how to listen to your body.
Month to month take note of what you're eating and see how your body responds. It may take more than one cycle for you to notice changes, especially if you've been eating or consuming a lot of things that promote or worsen PMS.
*See your medical practitioner before you change any medication you may be taking. Also, be aware that herbs may interfere with medication so make sure to see your medical practitioner before you make any changes.
A high fibre, green smoothie that I am a huge fan of right now is this
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1/2 tbsp of ground flax seeds
4 cubes of frozen pineapple
1/2-1 frozen banana
1.5 cups of organic spinach (yes, get organic)
1 tsp of chlorella (find at your local health food store, see the benefits here)
1 tsp of spirulina (find at your local health food store, see the benefits here)
3/4 of a cup of nut milk (not soy), coconut water or tea - my favourite is chaga tea
3 ice cubes
Combine ingredients and blend until smooth. This particular smoothie recipe has so many nutrients that help your body help itself. It gets you off to a great start to the day.
Till next time.