Our digestive system goes through some big changes through the menstrual cycle. Learn which digestive symptoms show up and how to beat that PMS bloating and digestive distress
Here are some symptoms people commonly experience because of their menstrual cycle
Many folkx experience bloating in the week leading up to our periods and for the first few days of it. This bloating can be caused by water retention due to the rise in progesterone.
Or, you might experience bloating before your period due to gas and poor digestion. This happens because that rise in progesterone also slows digestion in the intestines, and you don’t digest your food as well.
As your period arrives and there’s a rise in prostaglandins to relax the uterus, you might find that you have a faster transit through the intestines and even diarrhea. IBS symptoms mays be worse surrounding your period, and you might notice more cramping and discomfort.
There are so many hormone shifts happening during this time, and our bodies are much more sensitive. It’s during these two weeks (and particularly the 5-7 days) before our periods that I recommend that my clients be extra aware of what and how they’re eating as well as how they’re managing energy.
Here are some specific ways Ayurveda teaches to support a less bloated, uncomfortable premenstrual phase
1. Move the body (slowly and mindfully). To release excess water retention, it helps to keep the body and muscles moving. Take a walk, do some exercise, and spend some time in legs up the wall pose to release that fluid from the lower half of the body. I wouldn’t recommend doing super intense exercise during this time, however. Too much activity can overtax your system, and excess sweating could throw off the fluid balance in the body even more.
2. Eat like a baby. It sounds silly, but it’s also the easiest way to remember that you want easy to choose foods that are easy to digest and are nourishing for the body. Focus on foods that are soft, cooked, and warm. Now is the time to break out the instant pot to make soup, roast lots of root vegetables, and avoid raw or spicy foods. Your body will be better able to digest your food, and in the process you’ll make it easier for your digestion and bowel movements to be more regular.
3. Avoid overeating. Because the digestion slows during the luteal phase, overeating can create a lot of fullness and indigestion, stopping up bowel movements. This is a great time to practice slowing down when you eat, so you actually notice when it is that you feel full.
4. Keep it simple. Ayurveda teaches us that the combinations of foods we put in our body matters. During the luteal phase and into your period, you’ll want to avoid overly complicated foods – no smoothies with 34 ingredients. Keep things simple with less ingredients so that your body can focus on digesting each ingredient fully.
5. Watch the fruit. Another way to reduce bloating and discomfort is to avoid eating fruit in combination with other foods. Fruit digests quickly and when we eat it with other foods, it creates fermentation and gas in the digestive system. Instead, eat fruit solo as a snack or at breakfast. You’ll want to particularly avoid mixing fruit with sour things like yogurt.
6. Create pause points in the day. Too much movement aggravates vata dosha and creates constipation and gas, as well as making us feel anxious. Set an intention of pausing before you transition to a new task so you can take a deep breath. The result is that you’ll feel more grounded and stable as you approach your period.
All together, these recommendations will ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms that can arrive during the premenstrual phase and help you have a smoother, easier period.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Does your digestion change or shift before your period? What one thing can you do to help reduce that discomfort?Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,