Relieve PMS With Food & Diet Changes

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is an annoyance for nearly 80% of menstruating women. The symptoms of PMS are numerous and varied, many of which are difficult to explain. While hormones are likely contributors, diet can also affect the way we think and feel.

PMS Basics

PMS includes the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that women experience 7 to 14 days prior to menstruation. These symptoms can include things from breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, crying spells, insomnia, and changes in appetite, etc.

Most women only experience symptoms for one or two days. Regardless, some symptoms can be so severe that they seriously disrupt daily living. While it is unreasonable to expect a quick-fix for such a complex assortment of symptoms, many with poorly understood cause and mechanism, one must never underestimate the effects of diet on physical, mental, and emotional health.

Appetite Changes During PMS

Studies comparing the diets of women with PMS versus those without show vast differences in the amounts and types of foods consumed in the weeks prior to menstruation. Women who experience PMS on average eat 79% more dairy products, 63% more carbohydrates, and 275% more refined sugar than those with no PMS symptoms. Obviously, there's something major going on within the body during this time period.

Foods that Mess with PMS

Some foods, or rather the chemicals within them, can contribute to PMS discomfort, pain, or irritability. If these symptoms in particular cause you problems pre-menstruation, try avoiding these guilty food ingredients.
  • Saturated Fats: cause an increase in blood estrogen levels. This can create a hormone imbalance which lends itself to mood changes, like irritability. Dairy products and red meat contain high levels of saturated fats. You can avoid them by consuming low-fat dairy products and white meats like chicken, turkey, and fish.
  • Trans-Fatty Acids: are found in things like margarine and animal fat and can be difficult for the liver to process. This also prohibits the body's ability to balance hormones. Baked goods and highly processed foods often contain high levels of trans-fatty acids.
  • Sodium: As mentioned in the previous section, sodium results in water retention which can cause swollen hands, ankles, and feet. Limit your sodium intake by staying away from salty foods.

Foods to Help Your PMS Symptoms

  • Vegetables: The high fiber content in most vegetables (broccoli especially) binds to estrogen and can aid in its elimination. This can help moderate hormone levels as well as your mood.
  • Potassium: Foods rich in potassium are necessary to balance a low-sodium diet and decrease water retention. Bananas, cranberries, and other fruits are good for increasing potassium in your system.
  • Safflower oil: You can regulate prostaglandins - the chemicals released by your body to aid in endometrium degradation which also cause bloating and breast tenderness - with the linolenic acid in safflower oil. Safflower oil can be taken as a supplement or added to cooking and salad dressings.
Applying these diet changes all at once may be difficult. Try changing one or two things at a time to see how they affect your PMS symptoms. And remember to be patient: you may not notice results for several months after first changing your eating habits.


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