Ah, the joys of being a woman. Nearly every other woman experiences at least one of the following symptoms every month related to hormone-related and brain chemical fluctuations. In fact, most of us have come to expect unwelcome premenstrual symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, bloating, digestive upsets, cravings, breast swelling, sleep disturbances, cramping, and headaches as just part of the typical cycle. Shame, shame. No woman should have to experience these often debilitating symptoms month after month, and what’s more, many of these common woes of womanhood can be relieved with ingredients and supplements we already have in our fridges and pantries.
Let’s explore these PMS-busting superfoods and supplements women should be fueling up on monthly.
Avocados are not only creamy, delicious on toast, and filled with omega fatty acids, they contain plant sterols that may actually help to reduce excess estrogen from the body — a main issue linked to PMS symptoms like monthly weight gain, lethargy, and reduced sex drive.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil and chia and hemp seeds have long been used to help reduce widespread inflammation in the body. These essential oils may also help to reduce depression, anxiety, and menstrual pain and cramping. Fuel up on high-quality omega-3 oils and reduce your intake of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, that although healthy, may contribute to inflammation.
Raw Dark Chocolate
Most women have a special bond, I should say obsession, with this decadent superfood, and there is actually a rational reason. Not only does chocolate or cacao contain mood and energy-boosting chemicals, it contains high levels of magnesium and calcium as well as iron, zinc, a broad spectrum of B vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber — all essential to a healthy, happy cycle. Choose an organic and fair-trade raw chocolate or cacao nibs for the most benefit.
Most of us are actually quite low in this essential mineral. In addition to being vital for literally hundreds of functions in the body, magnesium also plays an important role in preventing PMS-related mood swings and irritability, breast tenderness, poor sleep, cramping, bloating and fluid retention, and headaches. Add magnesium-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, yogurt, figs, and bananas to your diet regularly or choose to add a supplement like Natural Calm or Magnesium oil, which can be applied directly to the skin.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and potassium, which aids to reduce bloat and water retention as well as muscle cramping. In addition the B6 may help to improve mood, irritability, as well as breast tenderness, so eat up.
Chasteberry, also known as vitex, is an herb that has long been used to treat premenstrual syndrome, especially breast pain and tenderness. In addition, chasteberry has been effective in relieving edema, depression, irritability, and headaches. Source chasteberry as a supplement in the form of a liquid extract or capsule.
Tocotrienol powder, commonly sourced from rice bran solubles, is a potent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E not only helps to soothe the skin when those pesky PMS-related acne flare-ups happen, but may relieve mood-related symptoms, cravings, and cramps as well. Supplement with vitamin E or add tocos powder to smoothies or oatmeal, or eat by the spoonful. It’s delicious!
Low levels of calcium as well as vitamin D have been linked to many PMS symptoms. In conjunction with vitamin D, studies have shown calcium to help reduce PMS-associated pain, swelling, bloating, and mood-related effects of PMS. In addition, the probiotics in yogurt help to regulate digestion and strengthen immunity, helping to improve PMS tummy troubles. If you are sensitive to dairy or find it contributes to those monthly breakouts, skip the yogurt and increase your levels with a supplement. 1,000 mg of calcium is recommended daily for women and 1,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D. Check with your doctor to get a baseline of your levels to see how much you should be taking.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Mark Popovich