Taking control of PMS through diet

For many women battling severe cramps and PMS, the secret to easing these symptoms can be as easy as altering their shopping list.

Eating the right foods can help prevent irritability, cramps and bloating. The goal is to eat foods that will help provide hormonal balance, stabilize blood sugar throughout the day to avoid spikes in insulin and increase nutrition with the most nutrient-dense food choices.

Eliminating all non-organic dairy, beef and chicken will help with hormonal imbalance. By choosing organic you eliminate any added growth hormones and pesticides that may lead to estrogen dominance and significantly more symptoms of PMS, especially cramping. Eliminate all ‘white’ foods (sugar and starch), which can change the way estrogen is metabolized and trigger the body to convert testosterone to estrogen. Trade white rice for brown or wild rice, and white bread for a whole grain variety and keep your daily servings to a minimum. Use a natural sweetener such as honey instead of sugar and use only sparingly.

Eating a diet high in protein and healthy fats will help stabilize blood sugar throughout the day.  Saturated fats and cholesterol are essential to good health and shouldn’t be avoided. The key is to choose high-quality, organic products that contain no added hormones. These include butter and cream from grass-fed cows, meat from pastured, organic animals, eggs from pastured hens and healthy fats from avocados, olive and coconut oils and fatty fish such as salmon and herring.

Nutrient dense foods will supply vitamins and minerals that may currently be lacking. First rid the fridge of low or non-fat foods. These tend to contain chemical stabilizers to help them maintain the right consistency. Avoid foods containing chemical preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners and coloring, as they can overload the system with toxins. Focus on eating at least two servings of cruciferous vegetables daily such as kale, collard greens, broccoli and cabbage; they contain Indole-3-Carbinol, which has been found to help regulate estrogen levels and support hormonal balance.

Supplements and herbs can play an important role in relieving symptoms of PMS. A multivitamin and mineral formula rich in vitamin B and E as well as calcium and magnesium will help provide vital nutrients and help with muscle relaxation that can affect menstrual cramps. When taken regularly omega-3 fatty acids will help reduce inflammation and evening primrose oil can help ward off cramps.

Cramp bark is a wonderful herb to keep on hand as an alternative to aspirin or ibuprofen to ease uterine cramps. Always check with your doctor for drug interactions before beginning a new supplement or herb, and remember to keep your diet as clean as possible throughout the month.