Published on November 23, 2017 by Courtney Ranieri
Do you notice that you feel more ‘puffy’ during certain times of the month? You are not the only one. Bloating is one of the most common premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
Period bloating is the feeling of fullness or heaviness in the abdomen, most common right before your period starts. Although you may feel like you have gained a few pounds, this uncomfortable sensation is actually due to fluid retention in the body.
Why does bloating happen and how do you beat the bloat?
Why Does Bloating Happen?
PMS bloating occurs due to the natural fluctuations in female hormones during your cycle. There are two main hormones that influence your cycle, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can cause bloating as they have an effect the body’s fluid regulation mechanisms. Estrogen tends to increase fluid retention. This is because estrogen causes sodium and fluid retention within the cells.
There are 4 main subsets of PMS: PMS-A (anxiety), PMS-D (depression), PMS-H (hyperhydration), PMS-C (craving). Bloating is a common symptom of PMS – Hyperhydration. Other symptoms of this subset include breast tenderness, water retention, swelling of extremities and weight gain.
How Do You Beat the Bloat Naturally?
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body! It is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium can also help to fight PMS symptoms including, anxiety, cramping and fluid retention due to hormonal fluctuations.
Women who experience more PMS symptoms tend to have lower magnesium levels.
A study in the Journal of Women’s Health showed that magnesium supplementation helped to decrease symptoms such as weight gain, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating.
Be sure that you are getting the right type magnesium. Magnesium bisglycinate is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium and won’t cause loose stools that other forms of magnesium, like magnesium citrate. Check out this article for more info on magnesium.
Food sources of magnesium include dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, tofu and beans. So feel free to give into those dark chocolate cravings in moderation as long as you…
Cut Down on Sugar
After you eat, insulin is released into the bloodstream to help your cells take up the sugar (glucose) from food.
High sugar or carb intake leads to high levels of glucose in the blood and as a result, an increase in insulin to combat it. Increased insulin can lead to sodium and fluid retention and worsen bloating.
Be sure to stick to high fibre foods and complex carbohydrates, and cut down on refined and processed sugars, especially before your period.
Avoid Salty Foods
When sodium moves into the cell, it pulls water along with it. Estrogen causes sodium retention, and thus, water retention in cells. Avoiding salty foods can help to lower sodium in the body.
Watch out for processed foods, canned soups, restaurant foods and salty chips and snacks.
Health Canadian suggests keeping sodium intake to 1500-2300 mg per day for the average healthy adult (ages 14-50).
Add in Some Botanical Diuretics
Diuretics increase the production of urination. This can help reduce water and salt retention, especially when you are feeling bloated. Natural diuretics include:
Women who regularly exercise have been shown to have less PMS symptoms, including bloating.
Sweating also releases fluids and sodium, further improving bloating.
Disclaimer – The information in this article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your health care practitioner before making any changes in your diet or supplements.
Colin P. White, Christine L. Hitchcock, Yvette M. Vigna, and Jerilynn C. Prior, “Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort,” Obstetrics and Gynecology International, vol. 2011, Article ID 138451, 7 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/138451
Health Canada. “Sodium In Canada.” Government of Canada, 2017, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/sodium.html.
Horita, Shoko et al. “Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Hypertension, and Renal Sodium Transport.” International Journal of Hypertension 2011 (2011): 391762. PMC. Web. 22 Nov. 2017.
Samadi, Zeinab, Farzaneh Taghian, and Mahboubeh Valiani. “The Effects of 8 Weeks of Regular Aerobic Exercise on the Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome in Non-Athlete Girls.” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 18.1 (2013): 14–19. Print.
Stachenfeld NS. Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation. Exercise and sport sciences reviews. 2008;36(3):152-159. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e31817be928.
Walker, Ann F. et al. “Magnesium Supplementation Alleviates Premenstrual Symptoms Of Fluid Retention.” Journal Of Women’s Health, vol 7, no. 9, 1998, pp. 1157-1165. Mary Ann Liebert Inc, doi:10.1089/jwh.1998.7.1157.
Natural medicines in the clinical management of premenstrual syndrome. Natural Medicine
Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Nov 20, 2017.
PMS Guidelines. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter 2000;16(8):160803.
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Over 7000 studies on omega-3 fatty acids seem to be telling us YES! Essential Fatty Acids are natural substances your body needs to establish and maintain overall well-being. As the body cannot produce these essential fats on its own, it is very important that they are acquired through a healthy daily diet. However, the typical Canadian diet is severely deficient in these. Daily supplementation with a natural fish oil formula is an ideal source for obtaining the health-promoting benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.
EFA supplementation can help to maintain good health but also treat certain health conditions such as:
Arthritis and Inflammatory Conditions
The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 oils from fish help reduce stiffness in joints and help relieve joint and muscle pain. This makes fish oils an important supplement for anyone trying to maintain joint health and mobility.
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Acne, period problems, ovarian and breast cysts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, PMS and more are telling you your hormones are out of balance. ESTROsmart balances hormones using safe plant nutrients that make periods effortless whether you have heavy, long, scant, painful or irregular periods. ESTROsmart stops abnormal cell growth associated with uterine fibroids and polyps: breast lumps and ovarian cysts. ESTROsmart is a girl’s best friend eliminating acne and PMS. ESTROsmart brings your estrogen back into the normal range and elevates progesterone naturally. ESTROsmart is for, every woman every day, to make hormone problems become a thing of the past.
Stop Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Smart women want to stop hot flashes and night sweats quickly and safely and that is why they have shied away from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogenic therapies. MENOsmart plus is a fast acting effective treatment that eliminates hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. MENOsmart plus contains non-estrogenic ingredients including sage, black cohosh, dong quai, gamma oryzanol, vitex and hesperidin to provide rapid relief of menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh is so safe that it has been used in women with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer who were taking the drug Tamoxifen. Vitex, another herb in MENOsmart plus, helps to enhance progesterone levels and reduces male facial hair growth in menopausal women. If you using HRT (synthetic or bioidentical) and still get hot flashes and night sweats, take MENOsmart plus along with your HRT to ensure that you never have to suffer again.
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Hippocrates said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”
As we have all heard it before, being reasonable and living a well-balanced lifestyle can unequivocally reduce stress and sickness.
Here and now, that’s easier said than done! Most families need two working parents to afford living more or less comfortably. This in itself places stress on every family member. The parents, most of all, for having to juggle between work, household chores and parenting and the children because of earlier social involvement and reduced free playtime –without a screen that is.
The stresses of modern life can make you feel as though you are on a treadmill. Most of us feel as though we never have enough time to do things, and certainly not enough time for ourselves! This naturally takes away from the connection to the Self, which is far more important than most people think. Spending time with the Self means understanding yourself; self-knowing brings a whole new perspective on the world. It is quite contrary to the trend of self-exhibition on social platforms, which is closer to a performance than from knowing and showing your Self. Connecting with your Self is a strong instinct, one that craves compensation if it is not met.
When not in the form of an “addiction” to social media, the compensatory reaction will come in the form of a craving: people turn to stimulants; either drugs, cigarettes or food. Compensatory behavior successfully appeases stress and discontentment. Alas, the effect is limited to approximately 30 minutes.
It would be interesting to measure how much good this “relaxation/compensatory” behavior is doing versus how much bad it leaves behind. Everyone is familiar with the comfort felt when indulging in treats. The fact that you are doing only that, adds to the pleasure, as you are spending a treasured moment with yourself! It relieves the psyche for a few minutes, but it weighs heavily on the body.
PMS or hormonal surges provide the perfect example. Most women crave either salty foods or sweets during certain times of the month. Some bouts provoke, what we can call “the PMS monster.” A ravenous monster that induces eating binges, mostly composed of the most deliciously empty calorie foods one can find. The absolute bliss during the feast is almost surreal, until it all comes down, when foods sit there, making you feel bloated, afraid of what the fat, sugar and salt that you just ingested will do, and guilty of having given in to the “the PMS monster.”
What is actually does inside your body is changes in the blood chemistry, bringing the metabolism in a state that aggravates glands, which in turn release hormones. The hormones naturally being produced are metabolizing normally through a gush of other material and chaos arises. This brings on “entropy”, a state of physiological chaos where too many reactions are occurring and the body is being overloaded and drained. You know it – it’s that terrible PMS feeling! What is worse is that in the case of PMS, your diet during the last month will affect the way your period goes the following month. Give in and feed the monster one month, and you will have the urge to feed it for the months to come! Stopping the vicious circle will get more and more difficult.
The best starting point is the liver
By detoxifying and supporting your liver, you can help keep cravings at bay. Unfortunately, when your metabolism is in a toxic state you crave junk food, driving you to maintain that metabolic state. When you clean up your act, cravings seem to disappear like magic. How do you get the magic to happen? An initial detox and follow up maintenance diet is pretty very hard to achieve because of the stresses of daily routine.
Herbal remedies to the rescue
Natural remedies can help soften the effort when trying to convert to a healthier lifestyle. Herbals can detoxify the system and help the liver function at optimum capacity, while lacto-fermented whey can help achieve regularity. Products such as Boldocynara and Molkosan can send you well on your way to better health, because they put you in action. Picking up those products is a sign that you are in action mode. You’ve passed thinking about it, now you’re doing something about it!
While you are in action mode, Boldocynara will cleanse your liver and Molkosan will feed your friendly bacteria so that you can begin to reverse the cycle and lose the cravings for certain foods. In addition, signing out of social media will help you refocus on the real you.
A wealth of research suggests four considerations that may affect sugar cravings:
- PMS or Menopause
- Microbial imbalance in the gut
- Thyroid health
These issues can all overlap, feed each other and make sugar cravings that much harder to overcome.
Someone who has a diet high in sugar typically has a higher risk of occasional sleep problems, erratic energy levels, and less concentration. This can make it harder to get through essential tasks and to manage emotions. This then leads to stress, which can prompt sugar cravings, and so on. It’s a cycle that’s all too easy to get stuck in.
According to a study published in the journal Appetite, 77% of women who had high levels of stress reported sugar cravings, compared to just 31% of women who were relaxed. The women who felt stressed also had significantly larger waists and higher levels of leptin, a hormone involved in appetite control.
For some people, finding new ways to relax or allotting for sufficient downtime in their schedule could be key to conquering their sugar cravings. Taking up a new sport, social activity or simply finding the time to take a bath may be just what you need to skip the sugar.
2. PMS or Menopause
PMS and menopause normal life stages can influence the activity of insulin, making cells more resistant to its effects and thereby increasing the likelihood of sugar cravings. Ensuring a healthy, balanced diet that is high in vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals and healthy fats and protein from fibre-rich plant foods can support hormone levels and stable energy release, helping to combat sugar cravings. Taking a high-fibre supplement such as PGX* can also help with appetite control by slowing down the release of carbohydrates from food and maintaining a feeling of fullness for longer.
Anyone who is having a hard time cutting back on sugar and who is approaching menopause, or who experience alterations in appetite around the time of their period, may find it helpful to talk to a physician or qualified naturopathic doctor. Other signs of PMS or menopause can include mood swings, changes in libido, occasional lack of sleep and fatigue and hot flushes.
3. Gut Bacteria
A high-fibre diet is also a great way to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut which, in turn, helps reduce the likelihood of yeast overgrowth. Anyone who has recently taken broad spectrum antibiotics or who is on long-term antibiotic therapy is at a higher risk of dysbiosis, a state of microbial imbalance in the gut, where the blanket eradication of bacteria (good and bad) can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and microbes, like Candida albicans, that cause yeast infections.
An imbalance in gut bacteria has been associated with altered energy metabolism and even alterations in neurotransmitter levels. The microbes in the gut produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and communicate with the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. Researchers have found that a diet high in processed foods and simple carbohydrates can dramatically reduce biodiversity in the gut, which could have a significant impact on cognitive function and appetite.
A prebiotic diet that includes fibrous foods like asparagus, artichokes and chickpeas can help to feed good bacteria, while a high quality multistrain probiotic formula can replenish lost beneficial bacteria.
4. Thyroid Health
Thyroid health is another consideration where sugar cravings are concerned, and is best addressed with a qualified health practitioner.
In the meantime, it is important to ensure a good intake of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and lean protein from high fibre plant foods, in addition to cutting back on caffeine and sugar and ensuring you get adequate sleep. Eating sugary foods can increase stress on the body and lead to fluctuating energy levels, so avoid these foods and support your thyroid health.
You may find that simply increasing the level of fibre in your diet, staying hydrated, and getting a good night’s sleep make it much easier to keep those cravings at bay.
*Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX®. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX®.