Why Your PMS is So Painful: The Dirty Truth About How Modern Diets and Lifestyle Affect Our Menstrual Health

Did you know poor eating and lifestyle habits directly contribute to how painful premenstrual symptoms are? Our modern diets are filled with processed foods, sugars, caffeine, etc. and most of the time our daily diets are lacking in vital vitamins and minerals. These poor dietary habits partnered with the modern “go, go, go” lifestyle can knock our hormones out of balance, leading to more painful PMS symptoms. 

Remember, it’s not enough to only monitor your diet and lifestyle the week before your period—balancing your body and hormones is a full time job. So try to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout your cycle, not just the week you may be experiencing PMS. 

What to LIMIT in your daily diet to help combat PMS:

Though it may sound like common sense, consumption of too much of any of these items may be making your PMS worse.

Sugar 

It’s completely normal to crave sugar the week before your period. This craving is a result of a decrease in estrogen right before your cycle starts. So don’t completely forego sugar, but try to just take a bite of something you are craving without finishing it. That way you satisfy your desire for something sweet, but you don’t overdo it.

Alcohol

Alcohol intake is directly connected to how painful PMS symptoms may be. Scientists concluded this is because alcohol is directly related to hormones in the body that control mood, like serotonin. Increased alcohol consumption leads to increased and worsened symptoms of PMS. So as difficult as it may be, try to limit your evening glass of wine to 2-3 times a week rather than every night. 

Caffeine 

Impossible to imagine a life without caffeine? As difficult as it may be to hear, researchers have found that caffeine consumption increases PMS symptoms by a whopping 30%. The good news is the effects were markedly worse in women who had 4 or more cups of coffee or tea a day. But another study found that women who habitually used caffeine, no matter how many cups of it they consumed a day, showed an increased risk for menstrual disturbances and increased PMS. So try to start by just drinking half a cup of your morning coffee, rather than completely cutting out caffeine. 

Processed foods

Processed and packaged foods are filled with artificial hormones, and overloaded with sugar and salt. Reports show that emotional and physical symptoms of PMS are much worse in women who regularly consume processed foods. So although it may take a bit longer to take the time to cook a home cooked meal, the effort is well worth it. Studies have found that western diets, specifically those with increased processed food consumption, result in more cases of PMS. So as difficult as it may feel to put down the potato chips when you are craving something salty, or keep yourself from finishing the chocolate bar when you are craving something sweet, try to reach for a healthier alternative, like nuts or fruits. 

Lifestyle changes that could improve PMS symptoms:

Many of these may sound like no-brainers, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle throughout the month is an important way to improve PMS.

Sleep

Everyone should be getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. So try making an effort to get into bed at a reasonable hour so you can soak up some ZZZ’s and recharge before your morning begins. 

Exercise

Regular exercise can dramatically reduce physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. So try going for a walk or popping on a workout video on YouTube if you’re not in the mood to head to the gym. 

Water

Staying hydrated is a no brainer, but for some reason many of us forget how important drinking enough water a day is. The week before menstruation and the week of menstruation we are more likely to be dehydrated, so keep a water bottle next to you and keep taking sips. 

Stress Management

Finding healthy ways to combat stress is key to keeping the female body balanced. Stress can wreak havoc on our hormones and make PMS symptoms even worse. So practicing yoga, meditation, and regular self-care activities should be an integral part of balancing your cycle so you can reduce the nasty emotional side effects of PMS.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2010896

https://blogs.bmj.com/bmjopen/2018/04/23/alcohol-intake-may-be-linked-to-premenstrual-syndrome-pms/

http://ispub.com/IJEN/6/2/6221

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658361214000651

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sara Shah Mother Yin holistic wellness meditation coach yoga teacherLearn more about Sara

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