5 ways to use food to alleviate PMS
PMS is so common in women’s health that it’s practically considered normal. But mood swings, bloating, anxiety, depression, cravings, or insomnia are extraordinary disruptive and can really affect a good portion of the month.
Unfortunately, I think we’ve been primed to think of PMS symptoms as inevitable. Something inherent to being in a female body. Nevertheless, there’s a different way to deal with PMS and optimize hormones so that you can feel vital and balanced again.
Let’s start with food.
- Go plant based a la Mediterranean: the Mediterranean diet is high in fiber and omega-3s. High fiber and veggie intake is going to encourage elimination of excess hormones and also feed healthy gut flora. To increase your intake of omega-3 be sure to add in cold water fish 2x/week.
What about animal protein? I think animal protein often gets maligned, but can actually be an important component in balancing blood sugar, helping mood and correcting anemia. If you have unstable blood sugar, deal with nightmares, insomnia, depression or anxiety, or have low iron or ferritin, I suggest adding in pastured eggs, grass fed beef, or organic poultry. Even a couple of ounces 2-3x/week can make a big difference.
The important point here is to be heavy on the veggies. Pile up about half your plate with veggies at each meal to get about 8 servings daily.
2. Include flax seeds: flax seeds are a great source of lignans that help bind up excess estrogen. I recommend grinding your own from whole flax seeds and storing in the fridge. Add 1-2 TBS to a smoothie, sprinkle over salad or mix into porridge.
3. Load up on the brassicas: dark leafy greens are powerful foods when it comes to hormone health. Think kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. These greens help the liver detox and get rid of excess estrogen while also being full of antioxidants and fiber. I suggest striving to get 4 cups daily.
4. Add in turmeric: turmeric helps aid detoxification via the liver and is also a potent anti-inflammatory. I recommend combining it with fat and black pepper to aid in absorption and to start with it as a food. Making a turmeric paste is simple and can be drunk as a tea or prepared as golden milk.
5. Ditch refined foods: Above are the healing foods to add to your diet, but just as important is cutting out those foods that may be leading to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. You’ll want to skip refined sugars and refined carbohydrates as these can negatively affect blood sugar balance, gut flora and contribute to weight gain and inflammation. Caffeine and dairy can also be trigger foods for some, so taking them out for 3 months to see if you see an improvement is a good place to start.