Functional Nutrition and PMS: Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Soothe the Savage Beast

(October 2009)

Whether you are a woman yourself, or just know a few, no one is a stranger to the dreaded Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). The root of a wide range of gender stereotypes and the universal scapegoat for female emotions, PMS includes a wide variety of symptoms that occur just prior to a woman's period. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, tearfulness, trouble sleeping, changes in libido, food cravings, headaches, bloating, breast swelling and tenderness, and fatigue. While there are some medications that can alleviate PMS symptoms, there are many lifestyle modifications and natural supplements that can provide women with the support they need to regulate hormonal balance.

Proper nutrition plays an important role in the health of a woman's hormone cycle and can impact the experience of PMS. Eating fast foods, fried foods, fatty foods, sweets, and drinking excessive alcohol or caffeine can affect hormone metabolism, and lead to increased PMS symptoms. Simple dietary changes, such as following an 'anti-inflammatory' diet, have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms. This includes reducing intake of sugar, alcohol, red meat, wheat, dairy, and other foods that promote inflammatory processes in the body. Diets very low in meat and dairy fat and high in fiber, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are also commonly recommended to reduce symptoms of PMS. Additionally, foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts contain components that help the liver to better filter estrogens and should be consumed regularly.

Powdered medical foods - such as Estrium, available at the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine's nutraceutical pharmacy - that provide a combination of nutrients specially selected for their ability to promote optimal hormone balance are also available as dietary supplements. Estrium features fortified rice protein, natural plant estrogens, antioxidants, and fiber, along with all essential vitamins and minerals and a variety of well-researched ingredients that

support healthy estrogen metabolism and healthy hormone cycles.

Another key element in managing PMS is regular exercise. Women who exercise regularly are less likely to experience symptoms of PMS. Women who jogged an average of 12 miles per week for six months noted decreased breast tenderness, fluid retention, depression, and irritability. Exercise not only increases certain brain chemicals that promote feelings of well-being, but also increases our body's ability to detoxify hormones efficiently.

Natural approaches to PMS are similar to other diagnoses in that they are multifactorial. Proper diet, rest, and exercise can influence estrogens in beneficial ways while poor lifestyle hygiene and environmental toxins can make it more difficult for a woman to detoxify hormones appropriately. Therefore, making a few lifestyle changes can have a significant impact not only on PMS symptoms, but on overall wellness.

To schedule an appointment with Michelle Rogers, ND, MS and find out what kind of nutrition and supplement plan is right for you call 312-276-1212 or email:


"Dr. Raby is very knowledgeable about all different kinds of treatments and is open to new ideas and natural remedies.  She is compassionate, understanding, honest and real."
- Raby Institute patient