Your PMS Plan of Attack
TTYL! BRB! LOL! In a sea of cutesy acronyms, PMS does not fit in. In fact, these three letters can be downright scary. Studies show that at least 85 percent of women experience premenstrual syndrome symptoms, which can include mood swings, breast tenderness, cravings, fatigue and irritability before their period. The good news: "It's absolutely possible to manage PMS symptoms with lifestyle changes," says ob-gyn Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. We've got four easy strategies to help you feel good all month long. Period.
PMS plan of attack: Maximize your magnesium intake.
Researchers at the University of Reading in England found that supplementing with magnesium reduced water retention and bloating. "I recommend 400 to 800 milligrams of magnesium per day," says Dr. Northrup. You can also add Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate, available at most drugstores) to a hot bath, and you'll absorb it through your skin. (Who knew?)
PMS plan of attack: Get moving.
Even though a workout is the last thing you want to do (the first is curling up on the couch in front of the TV), getting your heart pumping will make you feel better. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends regular aerobic exercise to relieve PMS. Exercise may relieve cramps because it helps release endorphins, which are your body's natural painkillers.
More Ways to Fight PMS
PMS plan of attack: Eat more whole grains.
Pizza! Chocolate! Cookies! More chocolate! These are just a few of the foods that your body screams for before your period. Trouble is, these munchies make you feel worse, because they make your blood glucose levels spike and then plummet. "Blood sugar swings are associated with PMS, so eating low-glycemic meals is critical to keeping PMS at bay," says Dr. Northrup. "Eliminate 'white foods' — like mashed potatoes, white bread, and sugar — to feel better." If you up your intake of whole-grain complex carbohydrates (like whole-grain bread and cereal, fruits, vegetables, and beans), you'll stabilize your blood sugar and keep cravings and PMS in check.
PMS plan of attack: Try a holistic approach.
According to a recent survey from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, nearly 40 percent of adults are using some sort of alternative treatment. Dr. Northrup recommends two for PMS: "Acupuncture and foot reflexology have both been shown to help," she says. In one study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, women who had reflexology (which involves massage of specific pressure points on the ear, hand, or foot) experienced a 46 percent reduction in symptoms. Another study in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics revealed the success rate of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms to be 78 percent. Note to PMSers: Less poking on Facebook, more all-natural poking to relieve PMS.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, March 2012.