When PMS strikes, even The Well Mom is downright crabby. Who enjoys feeling crampy and tired? And for those of us trying to maintain the post-baby weight loss, all that bloating plain stinks. Luckily, there are some easy things to try at home that take just a little bit of effort. The Well Mom turned to naturopathic doctor and fellow mom Dr. Margaret Schenck for some guidance on easing those annoying PMS symptoms.
Dr. Schenck says diet can play a major role in relieving PMS. She advises her patients to be aware that "inflammatory chemicals in the body can be reduced or enhanced by certain foods ...and that treating a "sluggish liver" can help detoxify and metabolize excess estrogen in our bodies."
Here are some tricks that might make the days leading into your period more pleasant.
* Stabilize blood sugar: Eat small, frequent meals, 5 or 6 meals a day by adding a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Limit simple sugars by eliminating concentrated sweets, soft drinks, and fruit juices.
* Replace simple sugars with complex carbohydrates. Simple sugars to avoid include white sugar, white flour, and white rice. Complex carbohydrates to choose from include brown rice, whole wheat, oats, barley, and other whole grains.
*Reduce intake of alcohol, caffeine, and salt as they can worsen PMS fluid retention symptoms and mood fluctuations. Eliminating coffee may significantly improve breast cysts and tenderness.
*Increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, and flax and olive oil to increase the flux of anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body.
*Limit the intake of dairy products and red meat, which contain exogenous estrogens (environmental estrogens that contribute to hormonal imbalance). Furthermore, dairy and red meat increase the flux of pro-inflammatory mediators in the body.
*Increase foods that help support the liver such as garlic, onions, green leafy vegetables, beets, carrots, and artichokes.
*Nutritional supplements have been shown to be particularly effective for the treatment of PMS. Important nutrients to consider are B vitamins, especially B6, vitamins A and E, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Discuss recommendations with your doctor.
Beyond dietary changes, Dr. Schenck also suggests:
Stress reduction can be helpful in reducing PMS symptoms especially if anxiety, depression, and insomnia are the chief complaints. Stress can be reduced by restructuring your environment to make it less stressful, learning relaxation techniques, or talking to a qualified professional for counseling. Books and tapes are available to help learn these techniques.
Exercise has been shown in several controlled trials to alleviate PMS symptoms. Regular exercisers had improvement in all PMS parameters including concentration, mood, pain, water retention, and depression. Frequency of exercise rather than intensity is a more important factor in reducing PMS symptoms.
Herbal preparations often utilized and are chosen for their special properties matched specifically to your symptom picture. Consult with your naturopathic doctor or your physician for recommendations and dosages.
Learn more about naturopathic medicine and Dr. Margaret Schenck *The Well Mom encourages you to consult with your own personal physician before altering your diet or exercise regimen.*