Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

The Importance of Your Poop

Even though it feels a bit embarrassing to post about poop, there’s no denying that our bowel movements are extremely important. If you want to know what’s going on with your body and your health, then start by looking at your poop.

Let’s begin with the gut. The gut is the body’s second brain. In fact, it actually sends messages directly to our brain up top. It impacts mood, digestion, the immune system, and even how you think. While thought processes like writing or math are up to the big brain, the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), which runs down from our esophagus to our stomach, small intestine and anus, is comprised of 100’s of millions of neurotransmitters that affect mental state and contribute to certain diseases in the body (source: John Hopkins). This network of neurons is similar to those found in the brain and act as a complex circuitry allowing the gut to think independently, learn, remember, and even experience gut feelings. 80% of cells from the immune system are located in this digestive tract, so it makes sense that the colon can dictate your overall health.

Because of the impact your gut health has on mood and overall health, many gastrointestinal disorders like Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome stem from issues in the gut. When you poop, you eliminate toxins, and when you don’t poop those toxins build up and can contribute to disease and illness. Constipation can be caused by a disease, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or from something like stress or poor diet.

Are you pooping enough?

Your poop can tell you whether your body is properly absorbing the nutrients that you consume. Ideally, you should poop between 1-3 times every day, but no more than 5. If you’re pooping five or more times daily, this is likely diarrhea and can be dehydrating. Many people refer to having regular bowel function as being “regular,” but regular really means easily passing soft yet well-formed bowel movements anywhere between 1-3 times a day to 3 times a week (source: continence.org).

The type of poop you make is quite important. Thankfully, there is this handy dandy poop chart to help you identify your stool category according to research by the University of Bristol:

If your poop most closely resembles types 1-3, this indicates constipation. Types 3-4 are ideal; 5-7 indicate diarrhea.

What can you do to become a “regular” and healthy pooper?

If you’re not a category 3-4 pooper, then I have some tips for you!

If you really want to give your colon a good cleanse, try a colonic. Colonics cleanse your colon by flushing the large intestine out with warm water via the rectum in order to remove waste and exercise and hydrate the colon (source: SF Colonics). Some places that do colonics will even sell add-ons with the colonics, like coffee enemas or vitamin B implants.

Diet can play a huge role on gut health. Try adding more fiber to your diet since fiber gets waste to move through the intestines. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, and I highly recommend my Daily Green Smoothie for a powerful dose of fiber and vitamins needed to cleanse the body of toxins. I also suggest taking a daily probiotic and digestive enzymes. Probiotics can come in the form of food or supplements, but basically, probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to proper gut function and good health. Digestive enzymes will help you get the most from the nutrients in your food by breaking the food down into more digestible components. Even if you’re someone who eats well all the time, if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes you will not absorb all the good nutrition from your food (source: Whole9). Stress, low stomach acid, aging, and inflammation all are very common occurrences that can deplete levels of digestive enzymes.

Because of the direct link between the gut and colon, constipation or diarrhea can signal something stressful going on, whether it’s something emotional buried deep or something going on presently, like a big presentation at work (source: Harvard). To reduce stress, I can recommend a number of therapies which I’ve tried. These include health coaching, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, emotional freedom technique, or yoga. There are many ways to reduce stress on your own too, like breathing exercises, regular physical activity (but tailored to fit your body’s needs), essential oils, or a good ole’ warm bath.

I have worked with many women who suffer from chronic constipation. In fact, chronic constipation is a large, somewhat unspoken epidemic. I work with these clients to improve diet and lifestyle and to identify areas of stress or emotional trauma in their lives. If you’re someone suffering from gut problems, or if you would just like to improve your overall health, please set up a complimentary consultation with me so we can review your health history and discuss how health coaching can best help you.

I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

 

 

5 Tips to Reduce Stress Instantly

75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related.  When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event.  In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.

Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:

1. Make lists

You’re busy and have tons to juggle.  Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress.  I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance.  I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am.  Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on.  That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.

2. Move your body 

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Our bodies crave movement.  Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed.  It doesn’t have to be an intense workout.  Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk.  You’ll feel much better!  Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs.  What did you like to do as a kid?  What makes you feel good?

3. Breathe 

Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing?  I mean, really breathing, like from the belly.  Start breathing consciously.  Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment.  Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose?  Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.

4. Self-massage

Loving touch is so important to our mental health.  We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis.  Give yourself some love.  Try massaging yourself.  Do you have tension in your shoulders?  Your temples?  Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!

5. Lavender essential oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal Lavender_lgfavorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed.  I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to my newsletters or contact me for a complimentary health consultation.

Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils have amazing benefits not just for humans, but for animals too. Anxiety, relaxation, joint pain, breathing, digestion, insect repellant, antiseptic, healthy skin and tissue are just some of the issues essential oils can help animals with.  It’s amazing to see what happens when I let my puppy sniff lavender essential oil.  The crazy pup lays down and actually drifts off to sleep!smokey

Quality essential oils should be therapeutic grade and 100% pure.  I personally use doTerra essential oils, because they are the purest oils- Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade- and work really well for me and my family.  On my dogs I use lavender to relax them, OnGuard to keep away ticks and fleas (mixed with some coconut oil along their spines), and Serenity when we leave the dogs or take them in the car (one dog gets anxious in the car).

Below are my top picks for essential oils for dogs (and even for myself!):

AromaTouch: Circulatory Issues, Overworked Muscles

Balance: Promotes Relaxation and Supports Healthy Joints (Add in Deep Blue and Lemongrass)

Breathe: Supports Healthy Breathing, Reduces Inflammation

Deep Blue: Muscle Cramps and Pain Reducer, Wound Care

DigestZen: Supports a Healthy Digestive System

Frankincense: Promotes Relaxation, Helps Promote Healthy, New Cells in the Body, Insect/Snake Bites, Scarring, Supports Healthy Skin and Tissue

Helichrysum: Supports a Healthy Liver and Nervous System, Wound Care

Immortelle: Supports Skin and Tissue Health, Calms the Nervous System, Wound Care, Reduces Scarring

Lavender: Calms the Nervous System, Helpful for Skin Conditions and Wound Care

Lemon:  Promotes Relaxation, Electrolyte Balance, Maintains a Healthy Immune Response in the Body, Supports the Lymphatic System, Claw Strength

Melissa: Stress Reducer, Immune Support

OnGuard:  Immune Support, Improves Oral Health, Spider Bites

Oregano: Supports Respiratory Health and Maintains a Healthy Immune Response in the Body

Peppermint: Supports Healthy Breathing, Maintains The Health of the Digestive System, Inflammation, Muscle Pain

Serenity: Stress reducer, Burns, Inflammation, Nerve Pain, Scarring, Wound Care

Zendocrine: Kidney and Bladder Support, Liver Support

Essential oils can be pretty potent for animals, so you can mix a few drops of oil with about a tablespoon of coconut oil to put on topically, sprinkle some drops of oil in your hands and let the dog sniff, or use a diffuser.  Use caution with puppies under 10 weeks of age, very old dogs, or pregnant dogs.  Talk to you vet about essential oils and please make sure you are using top quality oils!  If you have questions about how to use the products, which oils to use, or specific questions about doTerra, please email me at jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

To learn more about what I do as an integrative nutrition health coach, please visit me at jkhealthcoach.com.