Does the PMS monster take over your body a few days (even a week?) a month? Did you know that many nutrient deficiencies are to blame for those nasty symptoms? Keep reading, I’ll explain how to attack those symptoms with nutrients, enhancing digestion, and some easy lifestyle factors. The good news is that 80% of women can find relief with nutritional and lifestyle interventions.
Types of PMS
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects cycling women and has only been described since the 1980’s. However, most likely, women have been suffering with this condition for much longer! There are five types of PMS. Type A, anxiety type, is the mixture of those emotional symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. Type C, or carbohydrate and cravings, is the symptom cluster of sugar/carbohydrate cravings, fatigue and headaches. Type H or hyper-hydration type is also known as Type W or water retention. This type is characterized by bloating, weight gain, breast swelling and tenderness. Type D or depression type has depression/sadness, confusion and memory loss as hallmarks of this type. There are other common complaints such as acne, oily skin, painful periods, cramps, nausea, and/or vomiting. These are classified as Type P for pain.
Nutritional Help by Type
Type A or the anxiety type often responds well to extra B vitamins, magnesium (a calming mineral), and inositol (to help level out blood sugar spikes). It may be a good idea to find a good medical doctor/practitioner to evaluate hormone levels, particularly progesterone which can cause anxiety if low. The FertilityCare System is a great way to gain more knowledge about your cycles and hormones and seek medical evaluation. Some foods to avoid for this type of PMS are bananas, chocolate, and hard cheese because they contain phenylethanolamione (PEA).
Type D or the depression type, zinc is an important mineral. It aids digestion in the stomach, the immune system and energy function. Supplementing 30-60 mg per day may help as would consuming foods rich in zinc such as oysters, red meat, poultry, whole grains and nuts. The B vitamins can help depressive symptoms and supplementing 100-300 mg of B6 can be especially helpful. B6 is difficult to obtain from food, so finding a good high quality supplement may help. Foods high in B6 are red meat, liver, and wheat germ. Calcium and magnesium may also be helpful in reducing depressive symptoms during PMS. It is best to take them before bed for optimal absorption.
Type C or the carbohydrate craving type can be helped by a mixture of lifestyle, diet and supplements. First, finding a good program to help you balance blood sugar throughout the month can help long term. The RESTART program offered through my office, both in person and online, will help you learn to balance your blood sugar through using whole foods you buy at any grocery store or farmer’s market. A good supplement regimen that includes B vitamins, chromium, and Vitamin C can help with balancing blood sugar, cravings, and flushing toxins.
The type H, hyper-hydration and Type W, water retention can be the most bothersome. Wheat foods which are breads, pastas, wraps, pancakes and processed foods, can be a major trigger for this type of PMS. Trying to avoid wheat/gluten for 1 month as a trial can provide relief. B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and possibly evening primrose oil can help alleviate symptoms.
Digestion is the Key
By enhancing digestion, enabling the body to absorb nutrients more efficiently can also help dramatically. Simply chewing your food thoroughly and calmly can start the digestive process well and ease the burden on the lower digestive organs. Drinking warm water with a squeeze of lemon each morning can get the digestive juices flowing. This enhances the stomach acid so proteins can be more effectively broken down. Easing the burden on the liver, one of our main detoxifying organs, can help balance hormones, blood sugar, and create healthy bile for fat digestion. Consuming dark and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, eliminating processed foods, drinking dandelion root tea, and doing deep breathing exercises daily can enhance liver function. The small intestine is where most of our nutrients are absorbed. Eliminating foods you are sensitive to and consuming more probiotic rich foods such a plain yogurt, kefir, and fermented food can help the small intestine work better. If you are having large intestine symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea, most likely the cause is higher up in the digestive tract. Consuming 6-8 glasses of water a day and more raw foods can help digestion flow better.
If you have tried a dietary and lifestyle approach and are still having symptoms of PMS, finding a good physician or knowledgeable medical practitioner can help you evaluate and balance your hormones. Those trained in FertilityCare and NaProTechnology can help you find which hormone you are deficient in and help replace it. Also, if you are in need of recommendations on high quality supplements or would like to work one on one to incorporate these dietary changes and lifestyle factors, please call me at (717) 256-1812 or email at Erin@FaithandHopeWellness.com.