Do you have symptoms of PMS or hormonal imbalance mid-cycle (ovulation) and/or the week before your period? An unbalanced ratio of lower progesterone in relation to estrogen can cause PMS issues such as insomnia, bloating, moodiness, constipation, weight gain around the hips, thighs, and MUCH more!
If any of these describe you:
-Mood swings and depression around cycle time
-Variations or skipped cycles
-Vaginal dryness or itchiness
-Excessive or scanty blood flow during periods
-Cyclic insomnia, night sweats and fatigue
Why does this hormonal imbalance occur?
It’s all about three major weaknesses: the liver, a nutrient deficit and toxicity. The liver is responsible for three main jobs that affect hormonal balance:
1) Balancing blood sugar — an unhealthy liver can’t do its' job of helping to manage blood sugar and storing glycogen (sugar), so your adrenal glands kick in and activate your stress response when blood sugar falls too low. This stress steals from your body’s ability to make progesterone to support hormonal balance.
2) Converting thyroid hormone T4 to T3 — the liver is one of the organs responsible for the conversion of thyroid hormone (converting T4- inactive form to T3- active form). If your liver is malnourished and can’t store glycogen, less T3 is the result, slowing hormone synthesis.
3) Detoxifying toxins and used hormones from the system. Hormones are messengers sent throughout your body. When a hormone's message has been sent, the used hormones must be removed from the body (or the messages will continue to circulate causing havoc). Getting rid of used hormones from the body happens through the process of detoxification, which is why your cycle-related symptoms are like a report card for your liver.
So now what?
Action steps to fight hormonal imbalance with food:
1) Stop dieting and eat enough food to meet your body's needs. Especially enough protein and carbs to meet your metabolic needs. Your body temperature, as well as your energy and sleep patterns are a good way to check and see if you’re eating enough.
2) Nourish your liver and give it less work to do. Increase protein to 70-100 grams+ per day based on your weight (about 20-25% of total calories). Make sure to include a wide variety of animal proteins to help balance your amino acid and favor getting enough zinc and taurine. These nutrients are most abundant in red meat.
You'll also want to give your liver less work to do by reducing toxins in your lifestyle, avoiding nutrient excess (vitamin A, copper and iron are big here and should be evaluated by testing), and reducing your plant toxin intake (think nightshade veggies and high oxalate foods). In doing these things, you empower your liver’s natural detoxification process to help your body take out the trash, and increase your liver's bandwidth to detoxify estrogen properly.
3) Balance blood sugar by eating protein/fats/carbs together during each meal, and eating frequently to help stabilize blood sugar (especially important for those with blood sugar handling issues). Read more blood sugar tips here.
Reduce cellular inflammation levels by optimizing your omega fatty acid balance (find out if this is a factor for you with fatty acid testing). Then use your results to make dietary changes to support healthier cells and flip the switch on inflammation.
6) Decrease hormone synthesis blockers: this includes unsaturated fats (PUFA), excess estrogen (hormone replacement, birth control, or a malnourished liver that can't adequately detoxify used estrogen), ultraviolet light, x-rays, and excess iron (from fortified foods and vitamins).
7) Eat easy to digest foods to reduce endotoxin that can back up the liver (especially important for those with digestive distress). This means more easy to digest carbohydrates like tolerated fruits and lightly colored vegetables.
8) Up your magnesium levels. You can do this with transdermal magnesium or a magnesium bath.
9) Get enough fiber: eating enough fiber helps to feed to beneficial gut bacteria and aids in estrogen detoxification; supporting healthy hormone levels.
10) Listen to your body. It’s ALWAYS talking to you. Are you listening?
Beyond your diet
Other considerations that can largely impact your hormones and cause PMS like symptoms are things like gut infections, mineral deficiencies (check using hair analysis) and inflammation. These tests can help give you more data on your body and help you identify if you need even more support so you can get rid of your PMS for good.
Ready to combat your hormonal issues by understanding your body?
What helps your hormonal imbalance or PMS? Please share your strategies in the comments!
Peat, Raymond. Natural Estrogens. Retrieved on May 15, 2013, from http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/natural-estrogens.shtml
Peat, Raymond. Nutrition for Women. Eugene, OR: 1993.
Weatherby, Dicken. Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Nutritional Therapy Association, 2004. Print.