Premenstrual syndrome, more often referred to as PMS, is an exceptionally common condition. It is estimated that 80 percent of women will experience PMS during their life. Fortunately, it may be possible for many women to ease or even resolve their premenstrual difficulties by making appropriate dietary changes. But before learning how to effectively combat PMS through diet, we must first understand what it is.
What is PMS?
PMS is a condition that stems from hormonal imbalances. Although there are many factors that can contribute to the development of PMS such as stress, lack of sleep, and nutrient deficiency, the greatest promoter of PMS is irregular menstruation.
During the first half of the menstrual cycle the production of estrogen, an important hormone for female health, increases dramatically. In healthy systems this is offset by greater release of another hormone called progesterone. While these hormones remain at the appropriate balance, PMS is unlikely to occur. However, if for any reason estrogen values are sustained at a point significantly higher than progesterone, known as estrogen dominance, the occurrence of PMS and its associated symptoms are all but assured.
Seeing the Signs of PMS
Depending on individual patient factors, the duration, occurrence, and intensity of PMS and its symptoms may vary significantly. Sometimes, symptoms can be so severe that medical treatment is required. However, most women with PMS experience symptoms at a more tolerable, albeit frustrating, level. Some of the most common symptoms of PMS include:
Increased emotional sensitivity
Muscle aches and/or cramping
Sudden changes in mood (anger, irritability, etc.)
There are many medications and treatments available that may help ease the symptoms of PMS. However, even after employing these methods, women often continue to experience PMS related issues. Interestingly, an increasing number of studies find that women may partially or sometimes completely alleviate PMS and its associated symptoms through dietary improvements.
What Foods Help Alleviate PMS Symptoms?
What we eat has significant influence over virtually every bodily function. Depending on your unique situation, consuming specific foods can change your body’s ability to regulate various areas of wellness. For example, eating more of the following foods can help combat PMS by providing proper nutrition, reducing the risk of hormone irregularities, and balancing multiple systems in the body.
Many veggies can help reduce PMS symptoms. However, broccoli stands out from the rest. Vitamins A, C, B6, and E, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all found in broccoli. These nutrients help regulate hormone balance, limiting PMS intensity. The high amount of fiber in broccoli supports estrogen balance and healthy digestion.
Menstrual cramping is one of the most prominent symptoms of PMS. Fortunately, it may be eased by regularly snacking on bananas. Bananas are full of vitamin B6 and potassium, which help combat water retention, bloating, and cramping.
Many describe eggs as a super food and for good reason. Eggs provide vitamins D and B6, which have been shown to help ease symptoms of PMS. Eggs also contain vitamin E, which studies show may improve brain chemical activity relating to PMS symptoms.
Iron-Rich Lean Meats
Iron deficiency is often seen among women with PMS. You can replenish the body’s supply of iron by eating lean meats such as liver, oysters, poultry, pork, and fish. If you do not eat meat, consider using an iron supplement to avoid deficiency or anemia–we recommend HoltraCeuticals Iron Essentials.
As always, speak with your physician before beginning a new supplement.
Pumpkin seeds contain a wealth of nutrients shown to improve PMS. One serving of these humble seeds provide a bounty of magnesium and manganese. These powerful nutrients are recognized for their ability to reduce symptoms of PMS such as irritability and tension. Pumpkin seeds also contain notable amounts of iron, fiber, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which support healthy menstruation.
One study found that women who have a higher calcium intake have a lower risk of PMS. Some brands of yogurt provide up to 25 percent of the daily required value of calcium per serving. Therefore, eating yogurt can be a simple way to acquire the calcium your body needs to combat PMS.
A Massachusetts study found that women who consumed at least 100 IUs of vitamin D daily had fewer PMS symptoms. Fresh caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are all excellent sources of vitamin D. The healthy protein and fats found in these fish can also encourage better hormone balance.
A variety of nuts including pecans, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are brimming with beneficial nutrients such as magnesium. Research has found that magnesium is an important regulator of the neurotransmitter serotonin, an important and natural mood-booster. Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids that protect brain function and help fend off hunger.
Spinach is a powerhouse of magnesium containing roughly 40 percent of your RDA per cup. As mentioned above, magnesium helps regulate serotonin and mood. It can also alleviate symptoms of PMS such as headaches and fatigue.
Tea provides calming sensations that help reduce stress and anxiety. Chamomile tea specifically has qualities that help combat menstrual cramping, irritability, and irregular hormone fluctuations. Additionally, chamomile is caffeine free, meaning that it is unlikely to cause breast tenderness and irritation that may be triggered by caffeinated products.
Make the Right Dietary Choices to Improve PMS
Many women are faced with the challenge of regularly occurring PMS and its various symptoms. Fortunately, it may be possible to limit the occurrence and reduce the severity of PMS by making simple dietary changes. If you suffer from problematic PMS symptoms, consider including more of the foods mentioned above in your daily diet. By doing so, you can combat PMS and get back to living life to its fullest.
1. OWH. “Premenstrual syndrome.” The Office of Women’s Health.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).” Mayo Clinic.
3. Beth W. Orenstein and Niya Jones, MD, MPH. “Foods That Help Fight PMS.” Everyday Health.
4. Linda Bradley, MD. “11 Diet Changes That Help You Fight PMS.” Cleveland Clinic.