By Beth Ricanati, M.D. for YouBeauty.com
Most of us don’t stop and take note of how small changes in eating habits, exercise and other habits can result in large changes in the body. For example, have you ever noticed how your diet can affect your PMS symptoms? Since you have the privilege of making hundreds of choices today, make them count!
What are your PMS symptoms? Do you get bloated? Or perhaps cranky? Experience sleeplessness at this time of the month?
Thanks to a monthly drop in estrogen and progesterone that precedes our periods, some of us get to experience these not-so-fun, and often disruptive, symptoms. These hormonal changes create a domino effect, resulting in yet another temporary drop in the “feel-good” hormone serotonin, as well as other endorphins.
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In addition to feeling irritable, depressed and tired, it's possible to feel bloated, dizzy or experience breast tenderness. These bothersome symptoms can last anywhere from 3 to 14 days. While that may sound unpleasant, you have so many opportunities to lessen -- or even alleviate -- your PMS symptoms.
Some herbal and nutritional supplements can help lessen PMS symptoms. Chaste tree berry, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin E and magnesium have all been shown to minimize these symptoms. However, be sure to check with your physician before taking any supplements, especially if you are already taking other medications (over-the-counter or prescribed).
Good news: Avoiding certain foods, such as sugar, salt and caffeine can help with bloating, irritability, anxiety and depression associated with PMS. Really good news: Chocolate helps too! This is because chocolate has natural mood-boosting endorphins. Dark chocolate offers the most health benefits: It also contains magnesium, mood-boosting omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, contains less sugar and no milk. Look for chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao to experience its maximum benefits.
And, of course, moderate exercise (think walking 30 minutes a day -- and it's fine to break that up into smaller increments!) and stress management (Tree pose, anyone?) have all been shown to be effective tools in reducing the symptoms of PMS.
These activities can help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression while increasing mood-boosting endorphins. You'll also feel more centered and experience a positive sense of wellbeing.