Today we are pleased to welcome dietician and nutritionist Léa Taudière, who specializes in women's nutrition and who will answer our questions about PMS and painful periods. Happy reading!
- Hello lea! Can you tell us what PMS is?
PMS or premenstrual syndrome usually appears just after the ovulation period. It begins about 5 days before the start of your period and gradually disappears during your period.
PMS often involves mood swings, back pain, bloating, cramps, depression, increased sensitivity, nausea, fluid retention and breast sensitivity ( not all symptoms are listed). However, the reasons for PMS are not yet well defined, but it is probably due to hormonal changes (fluctuating progesterone and estrogen) during the time leading up to periods.
On the other hand, PMS does not affect all women. Some are affected and some are not! The intensity of PMS symptoms can vary from one person to another (very pronounced symptoms, especially at the psychological level, can be due to premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe category of PMS).
- Could you explain why we sometimes eat more before or during our period?
I would say that it is mainly due to hormonal changes before our period that will alter our mood (we may become more irritated or sensitive), so we tend to seek out comfort foods that will act as a reward. It is the decrease in female hormones that is the key to this increase in appetite (their decrease in turn leads to a decrease in serotonin levels which increases appetite and sugar cravings).
In addition to this, our body needs more energy during menstruation (due to more intense work of the body) which impacts hunger sensation. And in addition to increasing the amount of food ingested, we go for rather sweet foods which again bring that comforting feeling by stimulating the reward system in the brain (which releases dopamine). But of course, salty food consumption can also be noticed.
- Are there any natural remedies for PMS or painful periods?
Here are a few tips and treatments that I have selected and that can be applied to premenstrual syndrome and painful periods!
Take care of yourself
It might seem trivial but taking care of yourself on a daily basis and taking regular breaks by slowing down your lifestyle is very important (for example by taking a bath with essential oils, taking the time to read a book or even doing gentle yoga to relax)!
Using a hot water bottle
Hot water bottles are very useful against lower stomach pain; it is a well-known remedy but still very efficient thanks to the heat that will relieve the pain.
Doing sophrology exercises
Sophrology can be effective since it is a relaxation technique based on breathing exercises that soothe us both physically and mentally.
Use Cypress essential oil
This essential oil is a very good antispasmodic that also promotes blood circulation. It is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We recommend that you ask a pharmacist, doctor or herbalist for advice before use.
Chamomile can be infused in hot water and then applied to the stomach with a towel. The chamomile and the heat have an antispasmodic and decongestant action which helps to relieve stomach pains.
The chaste tree
Chaste tree is a plant that helps relieve PMS syndromes by regulating hormonal disorders and promoting the release of dopamine. But it remains a plant with a therapeutic effect which thus requires precautions before any use.
Using zinc and copper
Certain minerals such as zinc can be useful to treat stomach pain but also digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea (once again, be careful with the dosage, the advice of a health professional is highly recommended).
The effective action of calcium against PMS has been demonstrated, so it could be an option for treating pain during this cycle.
Alchemilla is a plant known to relieve pain related to the female cycle (period pain, PMS, menopause...), so its use could be interesting.
Be careful though, many women feel pain before or during menstruation (dysmenorrhea) but if the pain is very intense and persistent it is not normal. We recommend seeking advice from a health professional as there may be a risk of underlying pathology (such as endometriosis).
- Could you tell us what food is best to eat during your period?
First of all, we should not get frustrated or feel guilty even if we have sugar cravings: we should listen to our body and its desires especially during this cycle! If we go for sweet foods, it is better to eat dark chocolate (between 70 and 90%) than candies. But if their consumption makes us feel good, then we should not deprive ourselves! On the other hand, after the period of PMS and/or menstruation, you should try to get out of this latent phase and resume healthy lifestyle habits (e.g., exercise)! During this time (but also on a daily basis), I recommend a balanced diet rich in:
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables, especially green ones, and fresh fruit (which contain fiber, vitamins and minerals) are beneficial because they help digestion.
These are good for our body because they contain omega 3 which gives us energy (in addition to having beneficial effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems).
Good quality whole grains (which contain fibers, minerals, vitamins) will also help digestion and provide energy, so don't hesitate to eat them!
During menstruation, a loss of iron can be observed due to bleeding; a diet rich in this trace element can be useful. You can find it in lentils, brown rice, flaxseed, cashew nuts or dark chocolate. Red meat is very rich in iron, but it also has inflammatory properties, which should be avoided during this stage. If there is any consumption, it should be occasional and lean cuts should be preferred.
Foods rich in tryptophan
Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation. It can be found in brown rice, oilseeds, bananas, avocado and soy.
- And are there any foods to avoid or limit?
I would say that sugar and fat (mainly trans fats and saturated fats) should be avoided in large quantities, but of course this dietary balance is not achieved over a short period of time but over the long term. This is a habit to get into, but be careful to understand the difference between banning and limiting!
Irritating agents should also be avoided such as coffee or alcohol (because they can change the mood, increase stress and disturb transit) as well as spices and tea: it is necessary to take care of one's inner body and even more during this period.
Regarding dairy products and gluten, they can be poorly digested by some people and can promote inflammation (by causing intestinal permeability). But it depends on the person and their sensitivity; if these compounds are well tolerated then there is no reason to remove them from our diet.
If dairy products are removed from our diet, we need to compensate with calcium-rich foods (fennel seeds, sardines, almonds, tofu, spinach...). However, we recommend checking with a health professional before making any changes to your diet to avoid deficiencies.
Lea Taudière's wellness fast-interview
We are now going to finish this interview with some more personal questions and answers! :)
- If you were a current or future Mium Lab gummy what would you be?
« The sleep gummy! Sleep is so important for energy, weight loss, or even beauty! »
- A book to recommend?
Kilomètres 0 by Maud Ankaoua.
- Your guilty pleasure?
- Your daily wellness tips?
« Drink lots of water, in fact it's the first thing I do in the morning. And there's also yoga! »
- Your daily motto?
« Nothing happens by chance. »
- The next person we should interview?
« Justine Bona, osteopath. »
Follow Léa on Instagram @leadieteticienne
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