- It is estimated that nearly 85% of menstruating women between the ages of 20-40 years old experience one or more premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms that can last for almost two weeks – beginning around ovulation (mid-cycle) and lasting until the first or second day of menses1. Symptoms may include both mental/emotional and physical responses to rapidly fluctuating hormones:
Emotional and behavioral symptoms: Tension or anxiety, Depressed mood, Crying spells, Mood swings and irritability or anger, Appetite changes and food cravings, Trouble falling asleep (insomnia), Social withdrawal, and/or Poor concentration
Physical signs and symptoms: Joint or muscle pain, Headache, Fatigue, Weight gain related to fluid retention, Abdominal bloating, Breast tenderness, Acne flare-ups, and/or Constipation or diarrhea
Feeling consistently unwell just one time each month would be awful, but women struggling with PMS can go through two weeks of every month feeling uncomfortable in their own bodies! Please let us help you! We have found many techniques to help reduce our patients’ PMS symptoms. Schedule an appointment today and talk with an AIM physician about how acupuncture, massage, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), testing with DUTCH Cycle Mapping, or supplementation with Balance can help you.
In the meantime, here are some dietary changes that we have often found to help reduce PMS symptoms within two to three menstrual cycles!
1) Reduce (or better yet, cut out) pro-inflammatory foods: When women are struggling with PMS, they often turn to over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce their symptoms (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen). By reducing foods that are known to be pro-inflammatory all month long, you may find less need for OTC anti-inflammatory drugs during the second half of your menstrual cycle. How do you do this?
– Decrease animal-based fats, which are found in meat, dairy and eggs. These fats are high in an omega-6 oil known as arachidonic acid, which promotes pro-inflammatory molecules in our bodies. What are your arachidonic acid levels? Talk with your AIM physician about checking them with a NutrEval.
– Cut out foods that cause you delayed allergic reactions. Some of the most common foods people have reactions to are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and some nuts and seeds. You can learn which foods are problems for you by asking your AIM physician to run a US BioTek or Cyrex panel or by simply starting an elimination diet and reintroducing foods slowly.
– Sugar is pro-inflammatory and a problem no matter who you, so always try to limit this to less than 25 grams of added sugar/day. Consider watching the documentary Fed Up to learn more.
(If you need help, consider scheduling an appointment with our registered dietitian, Katherine Mattox, who specializes in an anti-inflammatory diet.)
2) Improve elimination of hormones: We eliminate many of our hormones through our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts via stool. By supporting the function of this organ of elimination, you can reduce the amount of circulating hormones that may be influencing your PMS symptoms. How do you do this?
– Even though fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is a part of plants that human beings are unable to digest, it still serves an important role for us. Whole grains and legumes are our best sources for soluble fiber, the type of fiber that will bind to our hormones and carry them out in a bowel movement. Insoluble fiber is high in our fruits and vegetables. It acts to increase our fecal bulk and pushes the stool through our GI tracts faster. Women between the ages of 20-40 years old need a bare MINIMUM of 25 grams per day, which means you can increase that amount. If you find yourself struggling to get enough soluble fiber in through your diet, talk with your AIM physician about using FiberMend.
– Increase your water intake to half your body weight in ounces every day. One of your GI tract’s jobs is to help keep you form becoming dehydrated. If you aren’t drinking enough water, it will hold onto your stool as a means not to loose water through it, making you constipated and reducing your ability to eliminate your hormones. Our vegetables and fruits have water in them, so if you eat your five to nine servings of these foods each day, you can reduce your water intake by 32 ounces.