Five Tips for Taming PMS

Here's a statement I don't think too many women will disagree with: Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a little slice of hell on earth. In the five to seven days before their period, up to 75 percent of women experience at least one unpleasant symptom in the constellation that PMS can cause — from the stereotypical cramps and moodiness to insomnia, fatigue, and nausea. One in 20 women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a serious and often disabling condition that can cause persistent depression, marked anger or irritability, and severe aches and pains.

The good news is that there are ways to tame PMS naturally. Try these five tips:

Exercise! You may not want to, but get in your workout anyway. The endorphin rush will help relieve cramps and raise your levels of serotonin, a mood-lifting neurotransmitter.

Get some R&R. Adequate sleep and less stress will put you in a better hormonal position to handle the physiological imbalance that PMS brings.

Cut out most alcohol, caffeine, and salt. Alcohol can exacerbate feelings of depression, so steer clear. Reducing caffeine may minimize breast tenderness and irritability, and cutting salt can reduce bloat.

Minimize simple sugars. Ideally, you're doing this all the time, but it's especially important before your period. Simple sugars may increase inflammation, making cramps feel worse. Eating regular meals and snacks with fiber and protein will help keep your blood sugar stable, which is a lot better for those raw nerves than blood-sugar swings.

Consider supplements. Calcium may reduce symptoms of PMS, so shoot for at least 1,200 mg a day. Magnesium is also helpful, as are B complex vitamins. To reduce the inflammation of cramps and breast tenderness, try a primrose-oil supplement; it's a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory that may work in ways similar to ibuprofen.

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