Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Do you find yourself coping with PMS month after month? Do you endure the misery of bloating, water retention, breast tenderness, acne, mood swings, cravings, or painful periods? It’s often assumed that these symptoms are just part of being a woman, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Working with a functional medicine doctor can help you get to the root of PMS, so you don’t have to suffer every month!
PMS and period problems are caused by hormonal imbalances. But what causes those imbalances in the first place? The short answer is that our modern world is full of hormone-disrupting foods, chemicals, and habits.
Some of the worst offenders are:
- The Standard American Diet which increases inflammation
- Imbalances in your gut, liver health and gut microbiome
- Medications such as birth control pills and antibiotics
- Endocrine disruptors like BPA and chemicals present in cleaning and personal care products
- Chronic stress and lack of sleep
The good news is that you can bring your hormones back into balance within a few cycles! There are a handful of principles that will help you to do so.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Include plenty of fiber-rich foods, including leafy greens, colorful vegetables, legumes, and intact grains. All that fiber helps absorb and remove excess hormones and “dirty” estrogens. Foods high in magnesium, vitamin E, and omega 3s help reduce PMS symptoms and cramps.
Here is a list of beneficial foods:
- Spinach and chard
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Avoid inflammatory foods like dairy, sugar, refined flour, vegetable oils, caffeine, and packaged foods.
Support and balance your gut flora. A healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut reduces inflammation, bloating, acne, and mood swings. You can improve the balance and diversity of your gut bacteria by:
- Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.
- Consuming fermented foods.
- Avoiding packaged and processed foods.
- Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. This is especially important after using antibiotics or coming off birth control pills. Always check with your doctor or health care provider before taking probiotics or other supplements.
Optimize hormone-balancing nutrients. Maintaining optimal vitamin and mineral levels is crucial to hormonal balance. Some of the most essential nutrients for preventing PMS and period problems are listed below.
- Vitamin E can reduce period pain and breast tenderness.
- Vitamin A helps prevent acne.
- Vitamin D promotes hormone balance.
- Vitamins B5, B6, & B12 support progesterone production, clear skin, adrenal function, and energy.
- Magnesium reduces cramps, supports hormone production, aids endocrine function, blocks excess cortisol, and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids soothe PMS symptoms, improve moods, and decrease inflammation.
Balance your blood sugar. Unstable blood sugar levels wreak havoc on your mood, energy level, and hormones. Thankfully, PMS symptoms improve when blood sugar levels are stabilized.
Even out your blood sugar by:
- Eating optimal amounts of clean protein.
- Focusing on fiber-rich veggies and legumes.
- Including healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and avocado.
- Not overeating.
- Exercising moderately.
Support and detoxify your liver. The liver plays a crucial role in converting hormones into their various forms. It is also responsible for helping to clear excess hormones from the body. If the liver isn’t working well, hormonal imbalances are bound to happen. Avoid toxins that place an extra burden on the liver and disrupt the endocrine system. Plastics, pesticides, food additives, cleaning products, and personal care products are just a few of the places where toxic chemicals hide. Support and detoxify your liver by eating an anti-inflammatory, blood sugar balancing diet, as discussed above.
If you are working with a functional doctor, they may also recommend liver supporting herbs and foods such as:
- Dandelion root
- Burdock root
- Milk thistle
- Schisandra berry
- Cruciferous veggies
Prioritize relaxation and sleep. Stress and sleep deprivation are major players when it comes to hormonal imbalances. Stress increases cortisol. High cortisol levels lead to the low progesterone and estrogen dominance at the heart of most PMS symptoms. It is vital to make sleep and relaxation a top priority if you are serious about banishing PMS for good!
Try some of the following strategies and see what works best for you.
- Create a regular sleep schedule and aim for 8 hours of sleep in a completely dark room.
- Include stress-busting practices like breathwork, yoga, and EFT in your daily routine.
- Drop any unnecessary activities and delegate tasks whenever possible.
- Move your body in a way that feels good to you.
- Listen to uplifting music or something that makes you laugh every day.
If you’ve had it with PMS symptoms, you don’t have to suffer! Now is the perfect time to reach out for help and get your hormones balanced. Dr. Sisu can help you get to the root of your symptoms and find real solutions. Call to schedule an appointment today!