lemonadeThis time of year where I live in Florida it’s about a bazillion degrees and 1000% humidity. So, I’ve been drinking up a bit more than usual. And, multitasker that I am, I’ve been using my many daily beverages to also get some helpful nutrients. For instance, I’ve been drinking fortified milk to get calcium and vitamin D, which have been shown to reduce premenstrual symptoms. And, soymilk gives me a dose of magnesium, which I use to help curb my migraines, plus it has other cycle-related benefits.

I figured since you’re probably downing quite a few beverages yourself throughout the day, you may want to try swapping out what you usually slake your thirst with for a drink that can make each specific week of your cycle better.

So, here are my suggestions for drinks that can boost your…

Week 1: Sip chamomile tea to ease menstrual cramps
Day 1 (first day of your period) to Day 7
If you’re bugged by period pain, sipping one to two cups of chamomile tea throughout the day may help reduce discomfort. According to a 2005 study from the U.K.’s Imperial College London, chamomile boosts your body’s level of glycine, an amino acid that calms uterine spasms, quieting menstrual cramps.

Week 2: Down green tea to gain focus
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
Thanks to high estrogen, this is the week of your cycle when your energy soars. However, research shows that all this extra energy can make it more difficult to focus due to mental antsiness. So, what can you do to improve your ability to focus–but without slowing down your high estrogen pep? Drink green tea! Both the caffeinated and decaf versions are rich in the amino acid l-theanine that’s been shown in several studies (such as this and this) to calm the brain while boosting alertness, which improves concentration without tiring you out.

Week 3: Nurse a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee to ward off sleepiness
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days
Probably the biggest challenge during these rising progesterone days in your cycle is that this sedating hormone can make you tired, tired, tired. You might think that guzzling a gallon of caffeine all at once is the perfect antidote, but a 2004 study found that drinking smaller doses of caffeine spread throughout the day is more effective at helping you feel more awake. That’s because it helps counter the fatiguing brain chemical adenosine that builds up more and more as the day goes on.

Week 4: Whip up lemonade to cool off a hot premenstrual temper
Final 6 days of your cycle
It’s no secret that during your premenstrual week, you’re more prone to feeling angry or irritated. That’s a side effect of plunging estrogen as it drags down levels of mood-regulating brain chemicals. Fortunately, there’s a fast and easy way to cool a fiery temper: Drink lemonade sweetened with real sugar (not a sugar substitute). A 2010 study found that sugar supplies the brain with glucose, giving it the energy it needs to control areas that manage emotions, which helps you take a deep breath and relax. Not a lemonade fan? Any beverage sweetened with sugar will work, though I recommend steering clear of highly caffeinated sweetened drinks since caffeine can end up worsening premenstrual irritability. Also key: Try limiting your sugary drink to just one per day–for those big premenstrual emergencies–since too much of the sweet stuff can cause down moods by triggering insulin to spike and fall, leading to a sugar crash.

[Photo: Daniel Go]