Premenstrual Syndrome that is. Some women have it, some lucky one's don't. Here are a few helpful tips to ease the pain during this evil time of the month:
1) Stay hydrated:
- If you usually drink the recommended 8-10 glasses of water per day, increase the amount to 3-4 liters if possible. It may sound like a lot of water, but the reason you suffer from back pain, fatigue, breast tenderness and excess bloating is because of the increase in the hormone aldosterone in the kidneys.
The pain you are feeling in these areas is water retention caused by hormonal imbalances during "that time." The more water you drink, the less you will retain.
2) Increase the amount of cardiovascular activity you do:
- If you currently do none, then starting a program may instantly ease your symptoms. Sweating and getting an endorphine rush helps to regulate unruly hormones and allows the body to eliminate excess water. Aim for at least 3/ 30 minute sessions per week.
3) Begin a strength training program:
- Yes, it is true that there is a slight increase in growth hormone levels (testosterone) in both men and women when lifting weights. This is a very good thing because testosterone is responsible for our vitality, ability to build muscle, sex drive and our ability to ward off and recover faster from illness and overtraining.
Women, DO NOT be alarmed- there is no possible way that you will "bulk up" with just a basic weight training program without years of heavy lifting, high protein intake and the use of anabolic steroids on a regular basis. In fact, by slightly raising testosterone- you may help to regulate any hormonal imbalances that occur during PMS. You also help to strengthen tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone density.
4) Try supplements:
- Evening Primrose Oil is an essential fatty acid that may help ease breast tenderness, depression and dry skin.
- Every woman should be taking a Calcium supplement. The RDA recommends at least 1,000mg per day. In addition to Calcium, the minerals Magnesium (roughly 300mg per day for women) and vitamin D (800 IU per day) should be included as well. Sometimes you can find a Calcium supplement that contains magnesium and Vitamin D all in one. Check GNC, Costco or Walmart.
- The amino acid L-Tyrosine may ease depression and irritability as well. This non-essential amino acid is the precursor of several neurotransmitters including, L-Dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.
- St. John's Wort has been shown to help those suffering from depression and other mood disorders, so if you tend to feel like "hurting" those around during that time of the month, then St.John's Wort may save you a jail sentence.
* All of these supplements are generally safe for everyone UNLESS you have preexisting health issues and/or take medication that may not mix well with some herbs. It's always best to check with your doctor before taking anything. Follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.
5) Avoid heavy intake of caffeine, alcohol and salty/ fatty foods:
- I know, I know- it's easier said than done at this point. You have this insatiable hunger for fried chicken, McDonald's french fries and ice cream. It's usually a losing battle and you give in because the cravings are so powerful. I completely understand and have fallen victim a time or two. I don't drink, so cutting out alcohol has never been a problem, but caffeine is my dear friend and it's hard to say good bye.
Do the best you can when it comes to cutting these things out, in fact the main culprits of misery for me have always been the salty food cravings I get. It's like I have this bottomless pit! When this weirdness comes over me, I know right away to increase my water intake and cut back on my caloric intake. The more I eat, the more I crave. So when I start getting that urge to eat, I immediately cut my meal portion sizes (still consuming roughly 5 small meals per day) and increase my water intake.
Make sure to get adequate healthy fat from almonds, olive and flax oil. Include plenty of green veggies and fruit during this time as well.
6) Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep:
- I don't know who came up with 8 hours as a baseline for adult sleep, because I need more like 9.5 each night. I always felt tired and grouchy the next day if all I ever got was 8 or less, but I'd feel guilty if I got anymore. Finally I just gave in and regulated my sleep patterns every single day, ensuring that I got no less than 9 hours 7 days a week. That meant giving up a social life, because let's be honest- the best stuff ALWAYS happens after midnight! But it's paid off in the long run because I feel rested every day, have more energy to get through my workouts and I feel less stressed out all around.
If you regularly suffer from PMS, increasing the amount of quality sleep you get will greatly dimish your symptoms.
7) The last thing you should do is pop ibuprofin or any over the counter PMS pill:
I'm not saying you should sit in bed all day suffering until your symptons subside, but you should always be conservative with the intake of NSAIDS (that wonderful pain killing ibuprofin) because they can have lasting harmful effects on your kidneys and liver. Instead try taking a hot bath to help you relax and ease cramping, or use a heating pad.
Taking too many pain killers may cause you to be more lethargic than ever. There are other products out there such as Diurex (a diuretic to help ease bloating and fatigue), which I found to be worthless and expensive. Skip it and hit the cardio, down the H2o and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night!