Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is believed to be caused by the fluctuation in the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The levels of these two hormones shoots up a week or two before the onset of menstruation and dip drastically again after the period. The result is annoying mood swings, headaches, body-aches and bloating. But the worst part is the near-perpetual nature of PMS – you know it’s going to happen next month too, and the month after that and so on. Many experts now concur that the best way to overcome PMS is not a drug or a hormone supplement, but regular exercise. Walking, dancing, jogging, aerobics, swimming or just about any exercise can help in keeping the condition in control.
Getting rid of inertia
You need to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily. Brisk walking and swimming are ideal, but you might like to try skating, karate, dancing or any form of exercise that takes your fancy. If you can exercise consistently, you will reduce the level of free-circulating oestrogen in your body. Exercise also boosts your body’s natural pain-killing endorphins, which relieve stress and raises your spirits.
- Reduce your intake of salt round the month but especially in the week before your period. Salt raises the levels of fluid retention leading to bloating, a common PMS. Tinned foods and packaged snacks generally have too much salt, so avoid them. Check the labels carefully before you buy something from the supermarket too.
- Avoid saturated, poly-saturated and hydrogenated fats and oils, as they aggravate the symptoms of PMS. At least once a day eat foodstuffs that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, flaxseed, trout or salmon.
- Reduce consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as they can both lead to hormone fluctuation causing PMS.
- Increase your intake of fibre. Foods rich in fibre helps dispose off excess of the hormone oestrogen from the body. Stock up on whole grains like barley and oats, and lots of vegetables and beans.
- Drink at least eight large glasses of water a day, as water flushes out excess salts through the urine, which helps control PMS symptoms like swelling and bloating.
Calcium and vitamins
- A daily dose of 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium can control PMS symptoms like headaches, mood swings and muscle cramps. It also makes you feel sleepy, and therefore it should be ideally taken before bedtime.
- A 50 mg dose a day of vitamin B6 can give relief from irritability and depression. Among its other benefits, B6 can control nervousness by increasing levels of serotonin, the chemical in the brain responsible for regulating moods. It also helps with PMS symptoms such as fluid retention, breast tenderness, sugar cravings and fatigue.
You can take hormone supplements such as chasteberry (Vitex). By bringing hormones back into balance, this herb is esteemed for its ability to control PMS symptoms. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, and be patient as it could take up to six months for results to manifest.