I used to be that girl who dreaded my period AND the week before my period. It would begin with the ridiculous sugar cravings (yes the kind where eating a whole chocolate cake would be just fine), then the bloating would start (probably because of the whole chocolate cake), and it would culminate in the worst cramps ever (think the kind of cramps that make you throw up and want to pass out). And then I’d get my period! That was my life for many years and I felt like I had no control over my body or what was happening to it every month. Approximately 75% of women struggle with similar issues every single month so I’m sure you can relate.
Eventually I figured out that I do have control – I have control over the food that I eat and how I live my life. Who knew!? I have learned over the years that every bite you take counts when it comes to how your body functions and how you want to feel physically and emotionally. I have also learned that the main cause of PMS is an underlying hormonal imbalance in which your estrogen levels increase while your progesterone levels decrease. This is known as estrogen dominance.
So with that said, here are my top three foods for combatting those dreaded PMS symptoms.
1. Dark leafy greens:
I’m sure you hear about them often but the term “dark leafy greens” might seem a little ambiguous. For instance, I used to go into Whole Foods and stare at the vast selection of green vegetables wondering what I could possibly do with any of them. Eventually I’d give up and walk out defeated and empty-handed. Then I did a little research and discovered that there are so many ways to cook and eat them. My favorites are kale, swiss chard, spinach and beet greens.
Leafy greens have three crucial nutrients your body needs to eliminate PMS symptoms: calcium, magnesium and the B vitamins. Calcium combats bloating and helps regulate brain chemicals that affect our mood. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and therefore helps the uterine muscles relax, reducing or eliminating menstrual cramps. B vitamins, in particular B6, increase the rate at which the liver de-activates excess estrogen and sends it to the colon for removal.
2. Complex carbohydrates:
Brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes are my absolute favorites. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained and high-quality energy because the body digests them slowly. Their high fiber content regulates blood sugar and gets the bowels moving! As I mentioned above, once your liver de-activates excess estrogen, it is sent to the colon for removal. So, in order to actually excrete the excess estrogen from your body you need to have enough fiber to move it on out. 🙂 Otherwise, the estrogen will get reabsorbed back into your blood, even after your liver has tried to remove it.
FYI: carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread don’t count! Once eaten, they act the same as a chocolate bar, spiking and then crashing your blood sugar soon after. This will worsen the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.
3. Cold-water Fish:
There has been lots of talk in recent years about Omega-3’s, and for good reason. Without getting too scientific, I’ll say that Omega-3 fatty acids suppress the production of inflammation-causing compounds in the body, thus reducing conditions caused by inflammation – think most PMS symptoms!
Scientists have even found a correlation between low omega-3 concentrations in the blood and increased menstrual cramps, breast tenderness, nausea, headaches and depression. Hello, awesome! The fish that are highest in omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines and tuna. For those of you who don’t eat seafood or don’t have access to it I recommend taking a really good fish oil supplement that provides 1000mg a day.
Okay, that about sums up the very best foods you should be eating all month long to reduce or eliminate your PMS symptoms. Remember, you don’t have to continue to suffer. The truth is that suffering every month is completely unnecessary and you have the power to change it! 🙂
Nicole Jardim is a women’s holistic health coach and founder of The Healthy Elements, where she helps women balance their lives and their hormones. Nicole has just launched her latest program Fix Your Period, a 10 week group experience where women learn everything they need to know to have their best periods yet!