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You’re annoyed, emotional, and ready to ban everyone from your life but Ben and Jerry. It must be “typical” PMS, right?
Wrong—surprise! There’s nothing typical about feeling terrible once a month, every month, for the entire duration of your reproductive years. While it’s true that plenty of women feel crummy before or during their periods, crazy mood swings should not be the norm and you shouldn’t have to accept the Jekyll-and-Hyde highs and lows as your female destiny.
The reality is, major mood swings are the result of serious hormonal imbalances, not the regular fallout of a healthy, normal cycle. But the type of emotional upheaval you’re having will likely depend on which of your hormones is most out of whack.
You shouldn’t have to accept the Jekyll-and-Hyde highs and lows as your female destiny.
The cool thing is that by paying attention to your symptoms and really digging into the details, you can uncover the root cause of your hormonal problems and actually start to remedy the issues right this minute. But you have to be willing to be a bit of a detective—and that means taking note of not just your feelings, but your flow.
Yes, that’s right—menstruation is now officially considered a legitimate vital sign that can tell you so much about the state of your health. (Something I’ve been preaching for years!) So by actually understanding the color, consistency, and patterns of your period, you can take control of your PMS, conquer your bad moods, and say goodbye to Jekyll and Hyde for good.
Keep reading for some common menstrual symptoms—and what they’re telling you about getting your moods back on track.
If you’re emotional and irritable—and your periods are heavy with clots…
You may have elevated estrogen levels. In particular, you might be eating a diet that prevents your liver from breaking down excess estrogen, which means it’s building up in your body and causing chaos. You could even have a condition like fibroids or endometriosis.
Try supplementing your liver with milk thistle and drinking lots of water to help your body detox. Leafy greens like collards and kale will help too, but avoid meat the week your symptoms are out of control. And get yourself to a dry sauna—sweating out toxins is a great way to get your estrogen back in balance.
If you’re depressed and anxious—and your periods are very short, light, and inconsistent…
Your estrogen may be too low. Since your hormones are made from food, you might have a vitamin or nutrient deficiency and/or adrenal fatigue thanks to extreme dieting.
Load up on proteins, including iron-rich meat and healthy fats like omega-3s, to help build and stabilize hormone production. And while I don’t normally advocate soy, this is the one scenario where I consider it fair game since it can help improve your estrogen levels. Avoid sweaty activities and stay as calm and relaxed as you can with yoga, meditation, or mindful breathing.
If you’re extremely anxious, moody, and can’t sleep—and you have brown, spotty stains at the start of your period…
Your progesterone might be too low. The brown stuff is old oxidized blood that didn’t make it out during your last cycle. You might even have irregular cycles or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The other problem is that your estrogen could be off—either too high or too low.
Based on the information above, figure out which kind of estrogen issue you may have, and then add chickpeas and egg yolks to your diet to boost vitamin B6 levels, and healthy fats like avocado to improve your progesterone production.
You may be looking at these scenarios and realizing none of them quite represent your situation. That’s totally okay and it’s perfectly understandable; each woman has a completely unique hormonal pattern. While these three cases are the most typical bad mood instigators, they’re not the only perfect storms that can result in physical and emotional symptoms.
If you’ve got other period-related issues that are confusing you, find out your period type (or what I call your V-Sign) to learn more about the causes of your symptoms and what to do with food to fix them.
Alisa Vitti, HHC, is an integrative nutritionist, best-selling author of WomanCode, and the founder of FLOLiving.com, a virtual health center that supports women’s hormonal and reproductive health. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Alisa has a web series on Lifetime, serves on the Yahoo Health advisory board, and is an advisor to several health and health tech startups. She has presented at TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, Hay House, WIE Symposium, and SHE Summit. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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