Every part of your menstrual cycle including the timing of ovulation, PMS symptoms, cramping, the length of your period, volume of blood and colour of blood gives you important information about your health.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is a bundle of symptoms that can occur from ovulation, usually about two weeks after your period, until your period starts again (Day 1 of menstrual cycle). Common symptoms that can occur are breast tenderness, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, food cravings, fatigue, mood changes, irritability, migraines, anxiety, and insomnia; all of which are related to your body’s response to hormonal fluctuations. During these 2 weeks there is a big hormone shift of progesterone and estrogen happening and at the end of your cycle the body needs to breakdown and process any extra hormones floating around and excrete them from the body. This process is done by the liver and bowels. If everything is working smoothly then these hormones should be cleared efficiently and no PMS symptoms should occur, however, when the body has a hard time responding to the changes in hormones than it creates a lot of physiological stress on other organ systems.
For example, food cravings, nausea and bowel changes such as constipation that occurs during the two weeks prior to your period starting is a sign that your digestive system is on the weak side. Headaches, irritability and breast tenderness is a sign that your body’s detox system is not functioning optimally and your liver isn’t processing excess hormones. Feeling fatigued, anxious or having trouble sleeping are good indicators that you are insufficient if not deficient in important nutrients and a vitamin and mineral boost is needed.
All of this information is extremely important because by supporting and strengthening the body systems that are breaking down, the PMS symptoms can be reduced dramatically and eventually with the right support rid of completely. Generally for most women, by looking and making changes to the basics of sleep, nutrition, hydration, supplements and exercise changes can occur.
Nutritionally, eat plenty of soluble fibre from vegetable sources, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Including soy foods, such as tofu, miso and tempeh into your diet can reduce painful breasts and help balance hormones naturally. Good quality proteins, such as fresh fish, eggs, skinless chicken and turkey, cottage cheese and cooked tofu added to each meal will help regulate your blood sugar levels and support the liver to process hormones. It is essential to consume adequate protein throughout the day, not just at one meal. Lentils, beans and pulses, brown rice, oats and sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, are also rich in fibre, protein and essential fats.
Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acids are associated with reducing inflammation in the body and may prevent or alleviate bloating and pain caused by PMS.
*Written by nutritionist Marianna Sulic