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!

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

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I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

Three Health Myths Busted!

Myth #1: The Less You Salt Your Food The Better

209785620_2515_detail-300x225For years we’ve heard about Americans’ high salt intake and the American Heart Association‘s instructions to reduce salt consumption.  The truth is that salt is essential to our diet and offers many health benefits, but many Americans consume too much regular old table salt which is processed and stripped of its minerals, not quality sea salt which retains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. These mineral properties found in sea salt lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to a healthy weight and fast metabolism.  Too little salt in the diet, under 2300mg of salt a day, can actually lead to heart disease and early mortality. Salt contributes to improved sleep, because it balances our hormones, supports thyroid function, reduces stress hormones, and increases metabolic rate. If you’re experiencing low energy, try sucking a few sea salt crystals and see how you feel.

For more information on the health benefits of salt, click here.

Myth 2: You Can Eat Whatever You Want As Long As You Exercise

My dad was an athlete. He always used to tell me that as long as I exercised I could eat whatever I wanted. I was an active kid too, so I always ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted.  Turns out, this is a myth!  Just because you exercise does not mean you should live off of table sugar and processed junk and eat as much of it as you want.  These foods are never good for us, they just aren’t natural.  There are many foods that are healthier and will better fuel the body for exercise anyway. Exercise also isn’t the most effective way to lose weight, researchers say. Exercise has many health benefits and is good for maintaining weight and curbing hunger, but proper nutrition is the quickest way to lose pounds.

Myth #3: Diet Drinks Aid in Weight Loss

diet-soda-weight-loss1-300x300Soda might as well be renamed “death in a can.” The high sugar content and unnatural ingredients have many known health risks, but what about the diet versions?  “Diet” sodas swap out sugar for artificial sweeteners that contain chemicals that cause cancer. These diet products also contribute to weight gain, since the artificial sweeteners cause cravings for calorie-dense foods.  Historically we aren’t used to getting our calories from our beverages, so our bodies aren’t satisfied after drinking sugary drinks and want more.  Stick to water as often as possible, or if you’re looking to ween yourself off soda, try switching to flavored seltzer.

Back to Basics

Words to live by, literally…
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Today I wanted to take a look at the difference between our modern diet and the way we ate as hunter-gatherers.  Our modern diet looks nothing like what our ancestors ate.  Americans consume way more sugar, salt, unnatural flavors, and chemicals.  In fact, even if you handed your great-great grandmother a brightly packaged box of Oreos, she probably wouldn’t even know what to make of it, let alone it eat it.

Below is some information on how our diet has changed.  Most of us need to curb our sugar and salt intake and the consumption of processed foods.  To do this, add in lots of whole foods (like vegetables and fruits), which will crowd out the quantity of foods we shouldn’t be eating.

Hunter-Gatherer Diet:                                       Contemporary Diet:

Carbohydrates:
>100 species veggies & fruit                               < 10 species veggies & fruit
>100 grams of fiber daily                                    < 20 grams of fiber daily
>Roots, legumes, berries                                    Sugars, sweeteners, grains

Protein and Fat:
 Game meats –deer, bison                               Feedlot cattle & poultry
 High Protein/high cholesterol                           Half the % of protein/high cholesterol
 More omega-3 fatty acids                                More omega-6 fatty acids

Vitamins and Minerals:
 Much less sodium                                            Much more sodium
Much more potassium                                      Much less potassium
1.5-5 x levels of vitamins                                  Lost in processing & storage

2002 Fred Peshkow MD, FACC