The majority of women have at least one PMS horror story up their sleeves. Whether it’s mentally attacking your partner for breathing too loudly or having to take two days off work to cope with the cramps from hell, research has shown that eight in every ten women experience PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) symptoms of some kind. But the truth is that although PMS is very common, it’s actually not normal.
What causes PMS?
According to the experts, there are four main categories of PMS:
Type A: The most common type of PMS affecting up to 80 per cent of women, this category is defined as being the ‘Anxiety’ form of PMS and includes mood swings, anxiety, tension and irritability.
Type C: Affecting up to 50 per cent of women in the days before their period, Type C (for ‘Cravings’ includes headaches, fatigue, increased appetite and yep, you got it, longings for sweet foods.
Type D: Labeled as the ‘Depression’ category, this type of PMS can be felt as depression, loneliness, decreased co-ordination, clumsiness and forgetfulness.
Type H: This type of PMS manifests as a water imbalance or ‘Hyperhydration’. Affecting over 40 per cent of women before their period, symptoms include bloating and weight gain, water retention and breast tenderness.
The key? Each of these forms of PMS is linked to hormonal imbalances. For Type A’s (the most common type of imbalance) the cause is excessive oestrogen and decreased amounts of progesterone. For Type D’s, the opposite is true with not enough oestrogen and excessive amounts of progesterone being the cause.
You can determine the exact hormonal imbalance(s) wreaking havoc with your period by visiting your naturopath and asking for a saliva test. Until then, you can follow these five easy steps to support and nurture healthy hormonal balance:
1. Manage stress
Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol is a vital hormone secreted by your adrenal glands throughout the day. In small doses cortisol can have a positive influence on the body, but when excreted in higher and more prolonged doses, it can negatively impact your cognitive function, sleep patterns, blood pressure, thyroid function, blood sugar levels, bone density, immunity, abdominal fat and more.
And although cortisol doesn’t cause PMS directly, as cortisol production is favoured over progesterone even when oestrogen levels are normal, this sneaky stress hormone can actually manage to make PMS symptoms worse. To help combat this reaction, you can actively engage in activities that calm and relax your nervous system. Our top five relaxation boosting activities are meditating, journaling, practicing yoga, creating a gratitude journal and spending time in nature.
2. Boost your intake of greens
Cruciferous and green veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy contain Indole-3-carbinol, which is a powerful agent used in detoxifying the liver and helping to process hormones along better pathways. Aim for a splash of greens in every meal and you’ll be well on your way to balanced hormones.
3. Eliminate processed foods
Research has shown that simple carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary snacks like croissants, cakes and cookies can increase PMS symptoms such as irritability and water retention.
As a general philosophy for happy hormones, our motto is to eat as close to what nature provides as possible. If you’re feeling stuck (and are really craving something sweet!), you can always try swapping a sweet treat for a healthy raw dessert. Check out the White Zebra blog for some easy dessert ideas.
4. Invest in your sleep
It’s now common knowledge in the medical and wellness world that there is a symbiotic relationship between sleep and hormones. Hormonal imbalances can cause chaos with your sleep patterns and in the same way, disruptions to your sleep quality and length can negatively impact your hormone balance.
The secret to healing your hormones from the inside out? Chomp down on magnesium rich foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, beans and lentils. You can then follow it up with a relaxing sleep ritual that allows you to wind down at least an hour before bed. Next, aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night and you’ll see some positive changes in your health, energy levels and hormone balance before long.
5. Get help from an expert
And finally, consider visiting a naturopath for herbs or supplements to help improve your liver function. A naturopath can also help with herbs for managing stress, improving sleep quality and improving progesterone production.
Healing your hormones needn’t be a difficult task: with the right approach and mindset and by following the above tips you can start balancing your hormones and combating PMS almost immediately.
By Fiona Caddies, co-designer of WhiteZebra, a health website set to centralize the teachings of a credible suite of esteemed health professionals which feature a high concentration of current news and practical ideas. A yoga, running, dancing and gymnastics fanatic, Fiona naturally flips and moves with electricity through life. She created a thriving Personal Training, Yoga & Nutrition Coaching Studio in NSW and touched the lives of hundreds of people. WhiteZebra was born out of her desire to inspire an unlimited amount of people searching for authentically sophisticated information on holistic health.