I speak to so many clients, friends and colleagues who think pre-menstrual symptoms are just a ‘normal’ part of being a hormonal woman. But I want to tell you that they aren’t and you don’t need to ‘suffer’ through them.
For most women, their period brings with it a myriad of symptoms including; pain, bloating, sugar cravings, low mood, anger, poor concentration and low energy. Just like any other physical and mental symptom, they are your body’s way of telling you something is out of balance. While scientists are still debating the exact cause of pre-menstrual symptoms, research has found most pre-menstrual women with these types of symptoms are deficient in key nutrients including B-vitamins and magnesium. Rebalancing these nutrients has a positive impact on how women feel before and during their period.
So, while I know most of us just want to lie on the sofa and eat our own body weight of chocolate when our period arrives, there are more natural ways to help your body balance itself and reduce these symptoms.
Sugar: I know when your period arrives so do the sugar cravings and while I do believe a little of what you fancy is good for you, it’s important not to see your period as an excuse to let it all go and indulge completely. Decide what your little treat is going to be and stick to that. Too much sugar can exacerbate pre-menstrual symptoms particularly mood swings, concentration and energy levels.
Refined carbohydrates in the form of white bread/pasta/rice/potatoes – as above these will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling more bloating, sluggish and tired as well as causing mood swings like sugar.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, pak choi, broccoli, cabbage and watercress in the days before your period is due. These are packed with vitamin B6 and magnesium and provide valuable fibre which helps your body break down and eliminate excess hormones which are in abundance around the time of your period. They also provide DIM a nutrient which supports the detoxification of excess hormones in your liver.
Nuts and seeds which also contain B6, magnesium, protein and fibre to keep your mood and hormones balanced.
Beans/legumes these little protein power houses again are rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium as well as plenty of fibre to keep your hormones and mood in check.
Caffeine in tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate (liquid or solid!) It can make anxiety, mood swings and irritability worse. It also increases the detox demand on your liver which can disrupt the efficient clearance of hormones leading to imbalances. Having said that don’t go “cold turkey” and suddenly give up caffeine around your period as this will also cause mood swings as well as headaches! Slowly reduce your intake in general and keep it to a minimum in the days before and during your period.
Water with fresh lemon – your liver is responsible for the efficient clearance of hormones and drinking water with lemon supports your liver and the extra water intake will help reduce water retention.
Green Tea is a better choice than a caffeine filled brew because it contains naturally calming l-theanine.
It’s okay to do less before and during your period if that’s what your body is telling you it needs. I know on Day 1 of my cycle there is no point planning to do anything big. I just need to honour by body by resting, relaxing and rebalancing with the nutritional foods above. If you feel up to it, gentle exercises like yoga and walking can help reduce pain but long runs and high intensity workouts should be avoided if possible!