Womens Health

5 Natural Ways to Control PMS

80% of women struggle with at least 1 of the 150 symptoms of PMS. This makes PMS extremely common, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through!

There are three main root causes of PMS symptoms:

1. Inflammation

2. Excess estrogen

3. Decreased progesterone

The below 5 natural treatments are simple and effective ways to address the root causes of PMS and can provide relief as quickly as one cycle.

1. Reduce your sugar intake

Did you know that sugar is inflammatory? It leads to increased prostaglandin release, which could be worsening any painful cramping you are experiencing. 10 days before your period, eliminate all high sugar foods including; pop/soda, table sugar, juice, and any processed foods with sugar added.

2. Cut out dairy

Diets higher in dairy can contribute to PMS symptoms of anxiety, irritability, nervous tension as well as heavy and painful periods. Cow’s dairy is inflammatory and can also cause the release of histamine. Eliminate dairy for two months and monitor for any changes to your cycle.

3. Balance your blood sugar

Mood swings can be worsened by low blood sugar. Make sure you are eating at regular times throughout the day and that each meal contains a good protein and healthy fat.

Healthy fats: nut butter (almond, cashew), avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil
Healthy proteins: fish, chicken, turkey, hemp hearts, chia seeds

4. Exercise

Exercise has been shown to be one of the best ways to improve mood, especially anxiety. Exercising just 60 minutes 3 times a week can help balance your mood. Exercise doesn’t have to be running at the gym. Try yoga, pilates, kickboxing, or swimming. The best exercise is the one you actually do!

5. Maximize progesterone production

Progesterone is made after ovulation in the second half of the menstrual cycle. It reduces inflammation, builds muscle, promotes sleep, protects against heart disease, improves libido, thins the uterine lining and calms the nervous system.

Progesterone production is reduced in states of chronic stress, undernutrition and inflammation. The above treatments will help increase progesterone production. If that is not enough, some simple supplements including magnesium, vitamin B6 and an herb called chaste tree can give your body an extra push.

How Insulin Resistance Causes PCOS

It is estimated that between 5-10% of women in North America have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The name PCOS gives the impression that this syndrome results from an issue in the ovaries. However, PCOS is actually a metabolic condition associated with insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance and inflammation. 

Current research suggests that insulin resistance is the root cause of up to 70% of all cases of  PCOS(1). Why these women are prone to insulin resistance is unknown but it is likely related to a genetic predisposition leading to abnormalities in the cellular action of insulin and its receptor(2). 

The insulin resistance these women experience is directly related to the symptoms of hyperandrogenism that women with PCOS struggle with. These include symptoms such as; hair loss, hair growth where it is definitely not wanted, acne, and long menstrual cycles. When insulin levels are abnormally high they cause the theca cells within the ovary to overproduce male hormones, known as androgens, leading to the above signs and symptoms.

So if you are a woman with PCOS, what do you do with this information?

1.     Check your insulin status.

The best test is the insulin-glucose challenge test. The second best option is fasting insulin and fasting glucose measured at the same time.

2.     Modify your diet.

The first-line treatment for all women with PCOS driven by insulin resistance is dietary modification. Reduce foods that drive insulin and blood sugar to the greatest amounts. These include sugary sweets, white bread, pasta, rice, and dairy. Move towards a plant-based diet and try to get protein from plant sources instead of animal sources(3).

3.     Exercise.

When our muscles are active we are able to move blood sugar into our cells without the need for insulin. This leads to improved insulin resistance in addition to all of the wonderful things we know exercise does for our mental and cardiovascular health. If exercise is new to you, start simple with 20 minutes of cardio or HITT three times a week and work your way up.

4.    Supplement with Myo-inositol.

This naturally occurring compound is my first-line treatment for women with insulin resistant PCOS. It has been consistently found in research to increase insulin sensitivity, reduce androgen levels and improve ovulation rates(4).  Myo-inositol has also been found to improve egg quality, fertilization rates and embryo quality in women with PCOS who are going through IVF(5).

References

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27510482

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277302/

(3) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41387-018-0067-4?WT.ec_id=NUTD-201811&sap-outbound-id=87BDE7AD182649D76973C87EFDC09B2E4BAA45E3

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655679/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27635136

 

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