Every month, about 85% of women get at least one symptom such as cramping, bloating, or general crabbiness (if you’re a guy and you’re reading this, I see that eye roll!). pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioral symptom that can occur in the two weeks before a women’s monthly period.
There are many different symptoms, that may vary from person to person and change slightly every month.
To diagnose symptoms as PMS, they must occur every month at the same time, usually in the “luteal” phase of the cycle, starting 1-2 weeks before the menstrual period. A characteristic of PMS is that symptoms are relieved when the period starts fully. The exact cause of PMS is still unknown. It is thought that a hormone produced by the ovaries, known as progesterone, cause PMS symptoms by using chemical messengers in the brain, called neurotransmitters. Many vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids are involved in this causing speculation and research that vitamins and minerals may play a role in easing PMS symptoms.
Mood swings, irritability, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, breast tenderness, headaches and bloating are common symptoms experienced. Eating healthy is a good starting point to help reduce these. Regular balanced meals, choosing a variety of foods in adequate amounts and limiting salt, caffeine and saturated and trans fats all contribute to a healthy diet. When experiencing PMS, you may be more sensitive to rise and falls in your blood sugar levels. This can happen after eating foods that have a high glycemic index (GI), mainly refined carbohydrates and sugary foods. Low GI carbohydrates for meals and snacks, such as wholegrain bread or pasta, may help with PMS symptoms by maintaining an even blood sugar level.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, good intakes of calcium and vitamin D are associated with a lower rate of PMS. Some evidence showed calcium at 1000 mg/day and vitamin D at 10 mcg/day can help relieve symptoms of PMS and migraine. Your body prefers nutrients from food so make sure you get in 3 servings of low fat dairy a day to meet your calcium needs. If you can’t get enough dietary vitamin D from eating oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals, then consider taking a 10mcg supplement daily.
More studies show that a diet rich in vitamin B1 and B2 can reduce incidence of PMS by 35%. Supplements of these vitamins proved no effect, food sources were preferred. Therefore, include wholegrain cereals, some meat, milk, and beans to get in these vitamins. Low intakes of iron and zinc may also be associated with increased PMS symptoms. Refer to the post on boosting your iron intake to prevent this. Anti-inflammatory properties of fish oils have also shown to reduce period pain.
Increased appetite during the luteal phase is a common PMS symptom. This is thought to be due to the rise in metabolic rate, increasing the need for calories. This varies from women to women, but on average, some women eat about 250 extra calories day. This may lead to weight gain. Being obese is strongly associated with PMS, possibly because it increases inflammation. So, preventing weight gain and losing excess weight may help to lessen the rate and symptoms of PMS. It may take 3-4 months to notice improvement in symptoms after changing your diet.
Book an appointment here for a low GI, healthy balanced diet to help prevent cravings and relieve symptoms of PMS.