Did you know that 85% of women suffer from PMS? If that’s you, here’s some nutritional advice to help you naturally beat PMS
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is believed to affect about 85% of women at some level during their monthly cycles. Of this number, about 10-20% experience symptoms that meet the definition of PMS, or more severe PMDD (premenstrual mysphoric disorder). Symptoms can include reduced energy, irritability, tension, headaches, altered sex drive, breast pain, abdominal bloating, joint pain or a swelling in the fingers and ankles.
While a number of medications are commonly prescribed for PMS, these can sometimes fail to address the underlying cause of PMS. So what can you do if you want to naturally beat PMS? Look at your diet.
Diet & key nutrients to reduce PMS:
It is now accepted that a woman’s diet may be a significant factor in developing PMS and severity of symptoms. In particular, higher levels of the following nutrients are associated with reduced symptoms of PMS:
Calcium and Vitamin D
Often lower in women with PMS, by increasing levels of these nutrients through diet or supplementation, PMS symptoms can be significantly reduced.
Calcium rich foods
Options include dairy, dark green leafy veg (especially broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts for hormone metabolism), nuts, grain, beans, tinned sardines or salmon.
Vitamin D rich foods
These include oily fish, mushrooms, eggs, fortified foods
B vitamins play a vital role in how well the body functions on every level but are also essential for nervous system functioning. As well as the metabolism of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA (our calming neurotransmitter). In particular, vitamin B6 is directly involved in the production of tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin.
Vitamin B rich foods
Examples include oily fish, poultry, lean meat, whole grains, avocados, baked potato (with skins), bananas and nuts.
Magnesium & magnesium rich foods
Magnesium is our calming mineral that helps to improve mood, insomnia and other PMS symptoms. While magnesium-rich foods include dark green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, legumes, avocados and whole grains.
During your period, it’s important to eat a varied, wholefood, unprocessed diet, paying special attention to:
- PMS triggers such as sugary foods and drinks, caffeine and alcohol
- Taking time to exercise moderately
- Trying to reduce stress
When effective dietary and lifestyle changes are made, it may take 2-3 cycles for the body to adapt and for you to begin to experience fewer symptoms. But your improved diet and lifestyle will have profound effects on your overall health as well as PMS – so start making those changes now!
Sharon O’ Dwyer is a Cork-based nutritional therapist and College of Naturopathic Medicine graduate