Updated: Mar 6, 2021
Feeling blue once a month?
If you're suffering from PMS symptoms know that you're nor alone. Actually, it is estimated that around 75% of women experience bloating, headaches, sleep issues, mood swings, acne breakout and so many other PMS symptoms.
However, it is not normal. As women, we have been accustomed to thinking that feeling this way before our period is something we have to live with. But it doesn't have to be.
The solution is not necessarily in medicine. You can get rid off PMS symptoms naturally. We, women, have a dynamic cycle, also called the infradian rhythm that we should get in sync with! It’s our second biological clock - the circadian rhythm being the first one. In other words, depending on which phase of our menstrual cycle we are in – follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual – our bodies will need different nutrients, activities, sports, etc. Adapting to these two clocks can help you live healthy & pain-free periods.
Let's see how you can go through this period more easily. We also really recommend Alisa Vitti's book In the Flo if you want to go further.
Root causes of PMS
Do you often feel "tired but wired"? Are there some months when you feel like your PMS symptoms are worse that usual? Stress might be the reason!
I have troubles managing my stress and still try to work on it everyday! During high stress periods, my whole menstrual cycle is turned upside down. I feel very depressed during my luteal phase (like my whole world is falling apart if you know what I mean :)), my cramps are worse than usual, I suffer from breasts tenderness, I can't focus and sometimes my period can even be delayed.
Before, I didn't know that chronic stress can mess up with my hormones. So for me, it was just one of these months when it was worse than usual but nothing to worry about.
When I started to learn about the female endocrine system, it started to click. It was my AHA moment! I learned that stress is linked to our blood sugar balance as cortisol, our stress hormone, makes the body producing more glucose as a way to give it energy. It's our "Fight or Flight" response.
Since I learned about the stress-hormones connection, I know how to support my body during times of high stress and reduce PMS symptoms.
Inflammation is triggered when your immune system (your white blood cells) detects an an injury in your body or something unusual (an intruder), he then releases chemicals and increase blood flow in the concerned area. Our body will then try to fight inflammation by releasing cortisol which leads to hormones imbalances and thus many PMS symptoms.
Besides, inflammation is bad for gut health and there is a strong gut-hormone connection.
3. Hormone imbalances
Have you ever heard of the hormonal chain? All of our hormones are connected. This means that when one is low, others overcompensate which leads to hormonal imbalances. Especially, Estrogen and Progesterone. Your Estrogen might be dominant either absolute or relative to Progesterone which causes the majority of PMS symptoms: cramps, acne breakouts, mood swings, breasts tenderness, cravings, etc. This is what we call "Estrogen dominance" and it is one of the most common hormone imbalance for women. There are many reasons that can lead to Estrogen dominance such as stress, constipation that keeps your body from getting rid off estrogen excess, stress, a diet rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates, lack of exercise, etc.
4. Nutrient deficiencies
As women we need key nutrients to heal PMS symptoms and feel our best during each phase of our menstrual cycle.
Magnesium is a common deficiency in many women. Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It helps a lot with PMS symptoms by maintaining healthy muscles, preventing migraines and headaches, reducing anxiety and menstrual cramps.
Vitamin B6 is also beneficial for PMS, especially when combined with magnesium. It helps balance estrogen and progesterone levels and maintain the adrenal function. Vitamin B6 is present in foods like organic chicken, salmon, avocados and chickpeas.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for menstrual cramps. They are anti-inflammatory that can help balance prostaglandins (inflammatory chemicals produced in the body), released in high amounts during menstruation. They can constrict the blood vessels in the uterus which can cause painful cramps.
The best absorbed Omega-3s are DHA and EPA that you can find in fatty fish like sardines and salmon and fish oil.
Zinc can also improve PMS symptoms. Zinc deficiency can often happen during the luteal phase. It is essential to stabilize our mood and ease anxiety.
5. Gut issues
Did you know that the gut microbiome has a direct effect on hormones? The estrobolome-group bacteria present in the gut has a crucial role in the processing and the elimination of estrogen from the body. It thus prevents estrogen dominance.
Gut issues such as bloating and constipation may indicate that your body is not able to remove estrogen excess. You have to poop every day to get your estrogen out.
To help your body metabolize estrogen, you need to give it fiber every day (at least 25 g).
There are some habits and lifestyle factors of our modern life that can create hormones imbalances and make PMS worse:
Eating too much sugar - the most inflammatory foods
Drinking too much coffee and alcohol regularly - fuels prostaglandin production, increase the risks of cysts and period pain
Not adapting foods to your menstrual cycle
Taking the pill: your body ditches micronutrients faster than you can replace them
Experimenting extreme diets: cutting out some macronutrients like carbs or eat too little calories
Exercising too much
Not using organic health and body care products