Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Mother Nature. (Including, but not limited to: cramps, bloating, mood swings, weight gain, acne, fatigue, etc.) Great! Now that every single woman on Earth is raising her hand, let's figure out how we can avoid experiencing those dreadful PMS symptoms every single month. Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O., says that although the causes of PMS aren't well understood, our hormones, brain chemicals, and diet can all play a role in the severity of our PMS symptoms. Let's take a look at Dr. Calapai's eight dos and don'ts for getting through your period scathe-free.
1. DO get more calcium. Some studies have shown that calcium levels are lower in women with PMS, and that those with the highest intake of calcium reported the mildest PMS symptoms. Dr. Calapai suggests sourcing your calcium from foods such as low-fat milk and dairy, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, and leafy greens.
2. DON'T consume excessive salt. Salt increases water retention, so if you suffer from premenstrual bloating, do limit the amount of sodium you consume in the run up to your period. Eliminate the salt shaker, and cut back on the canned foods, processed foods and condiments, all of which are overflowing with sodium.
3. DO drink more water. “Although this sounds counter-intuitive,” says Dr. Calapai, “Water can actually alleviate PMS-related fluid retention. Drink plenty of H2O — aim for 8 to 10 glasses a day; more when you exercise — to flush toxins out of your system and reduce premenstrual bloating.”
>> Read more: 8 Easy Ways To Drink More Water
4. DO eat dark chocolate. Craving the sugary confections like chocolate and cupcakes is totally normal. Try and reach for dark chocolate when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. A bonus is, it will boost your mood.
5. DON'T consume coffee. While you may need that daily cup (or two) to be functional, studies show that caffeine increases levels of anxiety. Dr. Calapai explains that, “Your blood vessels contract when caffeine is present in your body, which worsens menstrual cramps. Also, for those with loose stool while on their periods, adding caffeine to your diet will make it difficult for your body to retain water and worsen diarrhea.”
>> Read more: These Memes Perfectly Sum Up Your Period
6. DO eat greens. Losing a lot of blood can cause iron deficiency, which can cause lightheadedness or nausea. To counteract this problem, Dr. Calapai recommends stocking up on darker greens, like spinach, kale and broccoli to get your iron levels back up, but avoid eating them raw. For spinach, sautée with minced garlic and olive oil for a warm, flavorful bundle of nutrients!
>> Recipe: Crispy Kale Chips
7. DON'T drink alcohol. It will only worsen feelings of depression and moodiness. One study published in the British Journal of Obstetricsand Gynecology also found that regular alcohol consumption increased length of and severity of cramps in women who experience cramps during PMS.
8. DO eat bananas. Sleep disturbances right before your period are the norm for many women. Plus, experts at John Hopkins University in Baltimore found that too little sleep made women more susceptible to pain (meaning those cramps will feel even worse). So make sure to get your z's by eating bananas, which contain melatonin—a sleep-aid hormone that's secreted at night and helps regulate our body's natural rhythms.
Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed as the "The Stem Cell Guru" by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S.
His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer's, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson's.
Dr. Calapai started his practice in New York City in 1986 and for over 25 years he has hosted nationally syndicated radio shows, including his two weekly call-in shows on WABC 770-AM, where he offers health and medical advice. He has a show on Saturday morning 8-9am and Sunday evening from 6-7pm. He has consulted with numerous high-profile individuals including Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Fox series Gotham's, Donal Logue and worked as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers hockey team as well as various modeling agencies.
Dr. Calapai received his medical degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and he consults in Manhattan with practices on Long Island, in East Meadow and Plainview. He has appeared on News12 and in the pages of 25A Magazine and Social Life Magazine.