No wonder there is so much emphasis on trying to control hormones, after all they’re believed to be the culprit for causing emotional havoc during that dreaded one week of the month. But what if we’ve got it all wrong? Internationally renowned nutritionist Ashley Koff, RD, explains to LivingHealthy that PMS is actually about our digestive tract getting thrown off course. And as it turns out, we may have been trying to tame the wrong dragon all along.
“In reality, our hormones aren’t to blame and the solution isn’t trying to change them with foods or medications,” she explains. “The game changing idea is that to get and stay healthy when our hormones shift the week before getting our period, we need to optimize our digestion – which is thrown off course as our hormones shift.”
Yup, that’s right, according to Koff the range of side effects we attribute as PMS can be pacified through our diet.
Koff, who appears regularly on Fox 5 DC and frequently on national shows The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show and The Doctors, has worked with women for over a decade to help them achieve their personal health goals. During this time she found that women had the hardest time sticking to their program during that week before their period. While working with celebrities such as Molly Sims, Emily Deschanel, KaDee Strickland and Elisabeth Hasselbeck—or everyday moms like her LA blogger 'moms makeover' Yvonne and Sarah—she found success by optimizing digestion. Diet and supplements proved to be key in curbing PMS.
To help male partners and physicians understand female symptoms leading up to the “time of the month”, Koff often uses sports analogies.
“Let's say you go to the baseball game and eat a hot dog, perhaps fully loaded, and drink a few beers, which you don’t normally do. You wake up the next day feeling bloated, swollen, full, lower energy, perhaps even irritable, largely because those foods and drink have overwhelmed your digestive system, even keeping you from getting a good night's sleep. Well guys, that’s how we feel one week out of the month, for years!”
Koff explains that just by adding an extra side to that ballgame meal, the outcome would be much more pleasant.
“But if I turn it around, and at the game and have you take digestive enzymes with your food [which work like 'personal assistants to help the body break down the food], give you strategies to enjoy your treats but keep you from overwhelming the digestive tract [see Sources below] and have you take magnesium when you get home, you will end up doing better digestively, which helps enable better sleep and you will wake up feeling better.”
Which is exactly why Koff created the Bye Bye PMS protocol [see Sources below], the program focuses on optimizing digestion not changing hormones. She also recently launched an all-in-one product Bye Bye PMS that combines the nutrients mentioned above for additional support during the week before your period.