Many females (and their male partners!) believe that PMS is just a natural occurrence that comes with that time of the month; that just as inevitable and necessary it is for the female to get her period. It is equally as inevitable that she will have PMS. That includes manifestation of symptoms such as moodiness, irritability, cramps, acne, skin outbreaks, headaches and overall body aches and discomfort.
But here’s the thing: PMS does not have to be as synonymous with the monthly period as what you moistly perceived. In many cases, females who regularly experience PMS may be dealing with other issues, such as estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is the accumulation of excess estrogen within the body. As part of the monthly cycle, the body releases estrogen. Typically, once enough estrogen has been released, or its function has been adequately carried out, the liver metabolizes and eliminates the excess hormone. When the liver is unhealthy, the estrogen may linger for longer in the body, and continue to be active. This activity can cause the symptoms typically associated with PMS. Let’s take a deeper look at PMS, why you might be having it, and when you need to consider that it may not just be an inherent part of your monthly cycle.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome is the name given to the cyclic occurrence of specific physical and behavioral changes associated with a woman’s monthly period. It is experienced from about 1-2 weeks prior to menses. Researchers have identified that PMS occurs in 4 types:
- PMS-A, where the individual mainly experiences anxiety and emotional related symptoms;
- PMS-D, where the individual is prone to depression-like symptoms, as well as fear, paranoia, and withdrawal;
- PMS-C, denoted by cravings for certain foods, and
- PMS-H, with this type, one may fell heaviness in the body, such as bloating, headaches, fluid retention and constipation.
While an individual can experience any of the symptoms and may suffer from more than one type, these are the general trends and patterns of symptoms that researchers have identified.
Why do I get PMS?
As mentioned above, it is believed that PMS is a consequence of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance occurs when there is a high estrogen to progesterone ratio in the body. The body naturally produces estrogen and progesterone during specific parts of a woman’s monthly cycle. Both of these hormones play critical and important functions in a woman’s reproductive abilities. When these hormones are produced in the wrong amounts however, and estrogen dominates more than it is supposed to, it can have negative effects on the body, predominately appearing as PMS.
What are the symptoms of having PMS?
Different people experience different symptoms of PMS. Some of the most common symptoms include: headaches, cramps, skin outbreaks and acne. Some may feel food and sugar cravings, bloating or constipation. Others will experience fatigue, lack of energy or motivation. To add in the list is brain fog or difficulty concentrating.
Other symptoms have something to do with behavioral emotions. No wonder why are having the feeling of t irritability or moodiness, depression, anxiety and fear. There are several others that have been identified as well, but these are the most common. Each individual is different and likely is aware of his or her typical PMS symptoms, as well as when they are likely to occur during the monthly cycle.
How do I get rid of PMS?
Unfortunately, many people suffer from PMS all their lives, assuming there is nothing that can be done about it. In reality, however, with some simple and sustained changes, it is possible to reduce or eliminate the symptoms and discomfort associated with the monthly cycle.
Consume phytoestrogen foods
One of the first areas one can address is the diet. There are certain foods that we can consume that mimic the anatomy of estrogen, without eliciting the same effects. When you eat these foods, commonly known as phytoestrogens, they activate the estrogen receptors within the body, as estrogen itself would normally do. When the receptors are activated by phytoestrogens however, they do not cause the same effects as estrogen.
They are essentially a placeholder on the receptor so that estrogen can no longer bind there. When estrogen cannot bind and be activated, it cannot exhibit its effects, which include the symptoms of PMS. The result is that you have your estrogen receptors filled with phytoestrogens that don’t cause the symptoms of PMS. Instead of allowing the receptors to be filled with estrogen, where it is activated, feed on diet with phytoestrogen. Good phytoestrogen foods include organic tofu, organic soybeans, or soymilk, flax, sesame seeds, fenugreek, and oats.
Support a healthy liver
In addition to consuming phytoestrogens, it is important to support the liver and encourage good liver health. The liver is responsible for metabolizing and breaking down hormones so they can be eliminated. This is especially important when the hormones exist in excess or not needed in the body, as can be the case with estrogen in terms of causing PMS. If the liver is unhealthy however, and is unable to function at full capacity, the estrogen may linger longer in the body, having more time to cause symptoms of PMS.
How to support a healthy liver?
To support a healthy liver, drink lots of water and consume bitter foods regularly, such as endive and radicchio. Dandelion root tea and milk thistle are also powerful liver herbs, which can help encourage better liver health. It is also important to be sure to stay away from regular consumption of fatty, deep-fried foods and processed meats. As these foods are very taxing on the liver to break down and eliminate, and may further reduce its functioning capacity. Finally, drink plenty of water to help the liver continually flush out toxins and broken down estrogen.
Take healthy fats
Another dietary area to focus on in helping reduce PMS is the intake of healthy fats. Fats are essential to build hormones. If there is not enough of the right fat in the body, the body may not be able to produce estrogen and progesterone in the proper amounts, such that the ratio is accurate and the symptoms of PMS can be alleviated.
You can remedy this area of deficiency by consuming healthy fats that contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. For those who consume fish, fish, or fish oil supplements will account for both fat types. For those who do not, a combination of plant sources is necessary to ensure you get adequate amounts of each. This can be done by consuming flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil and generally ensuring a diet rich in healthy fats such as coconut oil and avocados.
How can I help PMS?
Suffering from PMS is no fun, especially given that for some women, it can last up to three weeks, cushioning the cycle on either end of menses. Aside from addressing the issue at the root and trying to eliminate PMS symptoms and issues, there are several things you can do to deal with it.
1.Drink lots of water -This helps flush out the toxins and improves liver health.
2.Have an active lifestyle- Be sure to stay active and exercise regularly. Physical movement helps the lymphatic system, which also plays a role in eliminating excess hormones and toxins from the body.
3. Consume Probiotics- If you don’t already, begin consuming probiotics. Probiotics help foster a healthy gut environment. Believe it or not, a healthy gut plays a big role in the healthy production of hormones. When your gut is compromised it can send inaccurate messages to the brain. This scenario happens when there is simply imbalanced count of bacteria, or other more serious issues such as IBS and leaky gut syndrome–
These messages can play a role in dictating the production and elimination of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone and other hormones such as serotonin, which is influential in the female reproductive cycle.
Furthermore, having a healthy gut will improve your mood and reduce incidences of irritability and depression. These symptoms may be appearing as PMS, but are actually related to an unhealthy gut biome.
4. Finally, ensure adequate intake of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins via diet, as well as calcium. Found in pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, vegetables and phytoestrogen-rich tofu respectively, these nutrients are all important. They will work either in the production of hormones or in helping your body maintain optimal health to be able to function at full capacity to produce and eliminate hormones as required.
In a nut shell
If you have been dealing with PMS for a long time, and simply accepted that it was the way it was going to be, take solace in knowing that with the right tools and a little bit of trial and error. With these options, you may be able to drastically reduce or eliminate your symptoms. Give it a try and see how it works out for you!
Nutritional Pathology – Brenda Lessard-Rhead
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