PMS: Get control and find relief!

It’s that time of the month. A cocktail of mood swings, food cravings and bloating seem to be uncontrollable. The time leading up to a woman’s period is like a terrifying roller-coaster; you can’t wait to get off and people around refuse to get on…Slide1

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) describes a range of unpleasant symptoms which are related to the female menstrual cycle. Symptoms usually occur 7-14 days before a woman’s period and they can range from breast tenderness, bloating, acne to depression, mood swings and food cravings. The reason behind why women experience PMS is believed to be due to hormonal changes (higher oestrogen and lower progesterone levels) or sensitivity to hormones which in turn can also be influenced by stress and nutritional status. A high oestrogen level is believed to be a major contributor to PMS.

There is not much evidence out there linking nutrition to PMS. However, specific nutrients are known to play a role in hormone function & in affecting the chemistry of the brain, so here are potentially some nutritional FYIs you can try to get those symptoms under control:

Limit high sugar foods and processed carbohydrates

Sweets, sugary foods & processed carbohydrates could play a role in increasing oestrogen levels in the body. Although inconclusive, some studies found that excess sugar can prevent the body from metabolising oestrogen. This may lead to an increase in symptom severity & frequency. To satisfy you cravings why not try: fresh fruit like berries, strawberries, watermelon, plums, low fat fruit yoghurts or wholegrain oat biscuits.

Limit foods high in salt 

A high intake of salt can worsen PMS as it may leave you feeling bloated due to fluid retention. Try to substitute salt rich snacks such as crisps, pretzels and salty crackers with better options such as raw vegetable sticks with low fat dip, low salt wholegrain crackers or rice cakes with a scrape of low fat spreads. 

Include foods rich in vitamin B6 

Vitamin B6 is believed to play a role in PMS by reducing water retention & relieving you from feeling depressed, irritated & nervous. Furthermore, B6 helps another important nutrient in PMS, magnesium, work better. Foods to include: peas, cabbage, seaweed, whole grains, capsicum, spinach, tuna, turkey and salmon.

Don’t forget about magnesium

Studies have reported that women experiencing PMS have lower magnesium levels which can cause several PMS-related symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, fatigue, irritability and aches. Magnesium rich foods include: pumpkin seeds, quinoa, green leafy vegetables (spinach, swiss chard),  dried figs, seaweed, summer squash and soy beans. 

Increase your fibre intake

Apart from keeping your bowels healthy, a high fibre diet is believed to play a role in regulating hormone levels. Fibre could help with reducing excess oestrogen in the body. Make sure you include a wide range of high fibre foods such as: whole grain breads & cereals, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, beans, fresh fruits & vegetables.

Other tips include incorporating activities such as yoga or meditation for stress management.

Wishing all you lovely ladies a more pleasant “time of the month”.  

1 Comment
  1. Great article – I am debating whether I should send this to my girlfriend!

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