Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMS

Try these quick and easy tricks to get fast relief from cramps, mood swings and bloating and have a happier period...period.
By Danya Cohen; Consulting experts Shawna Darou & Tristaca Caldwell
Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMS

Photo, Colin Erricson

How to conquer PMS

Go fish

Oh my, omegas! Among their growing list of health benefits, omegas are proven PMS busters. Now a study from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences reveals a daily omega-3 dose reduces the psychiatric symptoms of PMS, like depression and anxiety. And good news for those with painful periods: Omega-3s also block the production of the chemical responsible for menstrual cramping. 

Make it a habit: Amp up your omegas by adding smoked salmon to bagels and cream cheese, tossing tuna in your next salad or topping a pizza or salad with sardines or anchovies.

Serve up tasty smoked salmon apps at your next dinner party

Smoked salmon bagelPhoto by Colin Erricson Photography Inc./Stockfood

Detox your liver

PMS is often caused by excess estrogen, so boosting your liver's ability to deactivate the excess is a smart PMS-fighting strategy. Foods high in the compound indole-3 carbinol (like broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts and bok choy) all give your liver a lift.

Make it a habit: Steam or sauté veggies to preserve nutrients and make them easier to digest, which prevents bloating.

Bok choy to beat PMSPhoto by Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty Images


Get some chocolate therapy

Here's a good reason to give in to your cravings: Cocoa is high in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant for painful cramps. "It's also an anti-anxiety mineral, so it has a calming effect," says naturopathic doctor Shawna Darou. Keep a stash of 70 percent dark chocolate and snack on three to four squares a day for some sweet relief during the heaviest days of your period.

Bonus: You'll get a healthy dose of antioxidants too!

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSPhoto, Essenin Quijada/Getty Images

Crank up your calcium

Hormone fluctuations during your cycle can create a calcium deficiency and spark painful PMS symptoms. A recent U.S. study found a daily 1,200-mg dose of calcium helps relieve bloating, cravings, cramps and mood swings by up to 48 percent.

Try it today: Make a dairy-free (but calcium-rich!) milkshake with almond milk, banana, dates, cinnamon and almond butter.

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSPhoto by Philip Wilkins/Getty Images

Have a flax affair

Here's a secret way to turn all your favourite treats into PMS-fighting superfoods: Just add flax. The chemical compounds (called lignans) in these sensational seeds boost estrogen metabolism to restore hormonal balance. Flax also promotes regularity — another way to support your body's detox duties. Ground flax is the best way to get the good stuff, so sprinkle 1 to 2 tbsp over everything from salads to smoothies.

See six more insulin-sensitizing foods

Get your flax fix with our recipe for Chocolate-Walnut Banana Bread. Yum!

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSFlax (Photo, iStock.)


Eat clean

Just one more reason to go organic: Reducing exposure to estrogen-mimicking chemicals like those found in pesticides or some plastics can help restore hormonal balance. These imposters, called xeno-estrogens, stimulate your body in the same way estrogen does and increase PMS symptoms. If your budget won't let you go all-out organic, at least buy organic when choosing produce from the foods that tend to be highest in pesticides, which include apples, celery and bell peppers.

See 12 fruits and vegetables you should try to buy organic

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSPhoto by Jill Fromer/Getty Images

Pump some iron

Add dark leafy greens, citrus fruit and red meat to your PMS-fighting arsenal. A 10-year study in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows women who eat foods high in iron are 40 percent less likely to suffer from PMS symptoms.

Try our iron-rich Fresh Italian Burger

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSPhoto by Roberto Caruso

Try Indian takeout tonight

Turns out saffron (popular in Indian dishes) may be worth its weight in gold when it comes to relieving PMS. One recent study found that loading up on this pricey spice (derived from the crocus) reduced the severity of symptoms by up to 50 percent.

Nine all-natural ways to conquer PMSPhoto by Jonathan Paciullo/Getty Images


Zen out

If you're plagued by the PMS blues, try hitting the mat. Researchers surveyed women from the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, Malaysia and Lebanon and found 72 percent of regular yogis report less crying and irritability and fewer mood swings. 

Try it today: Get into child's pose — it's perfect for cramping or lower back pain. Starting in a kneeling position, sit back on your heels and place your forehead on the floor, letting your arms rest in front of you or down at your sides. Breathe into your lower back.

Click here for more cramp-fighting poses

woman doing child's pose on a yoga mat(Photo by Masterfile)


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