There is nothing that affects our appearance and wellbeing as much as our hormones do, specifically at a certain time of the month. Periods and the female reproductive system are a topic we tend to avoid unless we are trying to get pregnant, and other than that occasion we probably haven’t even discussed it with anyone since our high school sexual education class. I want that to change today because I know from personal experience how much it can mess with how I feel on the inside and how I look on the outside.
I’m going back to basics with the help of Naturopath, Kinesiologist & Nutritionist, Cassie Mendoza-Jones, to give you five things you need to know before your next cycle, including how to stay healthy, keeping pain at bay and her secret remedies/ products she trusts.
As women, we will experience 300 to 400 menstrual cycles in our lifetime, so encouraging a healthy cycle is something we would do well to do. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS and painful periods are common, but with the right information at your fingertips, relief can come naturally. Here are five things to think differently about your cycle, and tips for a healthy menstrual cycle.
1. PMS can affect us in many forms
Increased appetite, sugar cravings, fatigue, headaches, irritability, tearfulness and moodiness are just a few symptoms we may experience. If you suffer from tender breasts and bloating before your period, this may be a sign of low progesterone levels or high levels of a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone may be elevated because of decreased progesterone, high oestrogen levels, a magnesium deficiency or stress. A few ways to help prevent these symptoms is to take a well-absorbed form of magnesium such as magnesium diglycinate or citrate, reducing stress through yoga, light exercise and a healthy diet, and taking herbs such as Chaste tree (to increase progesterone levels) and Dandelion leaf, Celery and Fennel to reduce fluid retention.
2. Sugar cravings and irritability prior to the menstrual cycle is common
It’s a sign of blood sugar irregularities. One way to help soften these cravings is to take magnesium, and to reduce stress and inflammation in the body as these will worsen blood sugar imbalances. The mineral chromium and the herb Gymnema will both help to reduce sugar cravings and balance blood sugar levels. A high-quality fish oil will help to reduce inflammation, as will a reduction in caffeine, processed foods and refined sugar. Don’t feel guilty about wanting some chocolate though – just go for the darkest you can find, as the bitterness will likely prevent you from overeating, plus dark chocolate is high in antioxidants which may reduce inflammation.
Changes in our brain chemical serotonin will also affect our cravings for sugar, and one of the easiest ways to ensure healthy serotonin levels is to ensure an adequate intake of protein. Protein forms the building blocks of our neurotransmitters, hence without enough protein, we lack the essential and basic nutrients needed to produce healthy brain chemicals. Protein is found in lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, as well as nuts, seeds, and their oils.
3. Feeling a little hungrier before your cycle is common
As our bodies do use up a little extra energy in the lead up to our cycle, you can use this time to focus your food intake on healthy, nutrient-dense foods. A nutrient-dense diet complete with a healthy amount of minerals and vitamins, as well lean protein, veggies, a little fruit and good fats from nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and nut/seed oils will help balance your cycle.
4. Stress can negatively affect our menstrual cycle
As many of us ladies know, irregular or painful periods can be a stress in themselves! Incorporating ways to reduce stress in our daily lives and particularly around our cycle will help to balance our cycles naturally and may even reduce period pain and fatigue. The usual suspects are wonderful; meditation, yoga, journaling, counseling, other healthy means of reducing stress, such as walking, spending time in nature and sunshine, and having a big laugh with girlfriends. Good nutrition will also reduce physiological stress on the body and contribute to a greater sense of wellbeing and self-image, and self-confidence. This in itself can help reduce any stress surrounding menstruation.
5. Using quality sanitary care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself
If you think about the fact that our skin is our largest organ, and that anything and everything we put on our skin and inside our bodies can be absorbed, it quickly becomes apparent how important it is to trust the quality of the sanitary care we use. I love Moxie Organics for their certified organic tampons, which means they’re made from cotton that is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
About Cassie Mendoza-Jones
Cassie’s passion for holistic wellness began when she was working as a make-up artist in the fashion industry. While glamming up her gorgeous charges for the camera, it soon became apparent that although the models looked the picture of health, they definitely didn’t always feel it – dull skin, low energy levels, and fierce sugar cravings were the norm, Cassie found herself being sought out for her own wellness tips and tricks, and realized that this was her passion: teaching people how to tune in to their bodies and create optimum health.
With this newfound passion and purpose, she refocused her career, immersed herself in her studies, and rocketed into the wellness industry with much buzz and momentum. Now a practicing and qualified nutritionist, naturopath, herbalist and kinesiologist, Cassie is regarded as one of the most influential and up-and-coming health practitioners in Australia.
Cassie is also the expert advisor for Moxie Organics, the latest range of organic tampons from Moxie.