Being a woman is great. We get the excitement of make-up, the variety of clothes, an array of shoe choices and we even get to accessorize our outfits, but on a more serious level the female body has the ability to give birth to another human life. However, a consequence of this can be PMS (premenstrual syndrome); something which many women suffer with on a monthly basis. PMS is a combination of symptoms which occur in response to hormonal changes during the female menstrual cycle. PMS displays itself differently in everyone although some of the common symptoms include: cravings for sweet and salty foods, mood swings, low energy, bloating, water retention and tender breasts. The symptoms are typically relieved around the time of menstruation or a day or two later.
PMS requires us to be kinder to ourselves, listen to what we really want and need and to say no when everything feels a little too much. Other than taking time out, popping a pain-killer and zoning out in a nice relaxing bath it can sometimes seem that not much else will help.Although, nutrition can play a role in helping to control some of the symptoms (note: it likely won’t prevent them but it can significantly help).
So let’s have a look at some key nutrients and how they can help when the PMS hits.
Research has shown that a diet low in calcium can heighten symptoms of PMS. Some researchers suggest that it may play the greatest role in helping to control mood fluctuations, fatigue and appetite changes. It’s well known that dairy is a great source of calcium although for the dairy-free folk ensure you’re consuming fortified milks, green leafy vegetables, nuts, tofu, soya beans and sardines (with the bones).
The research surrounding vitamin D and PMS appears to be mixed. However, what we do know is that the majority of the UK population are deficient in this vitamin as it’s main source is the sun (the thing we see little of in the UK) and it can be difficult to obtain from the diet alone. However, some studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a reduction in mood swings, back pain and cramps. Although the doses are yet undecided. It’s important to supplement with the recommended 10ųg per day in the winter months (November to March) and ensure you’re getting out in the sun on the sunnier days. Food sources of vitamin D include: salmon, eggs and shitake mushrooms.
Research has shown a link between PMS symptoms and low magnesium status as well as magnesium supplementation and improved cramping and migraines. Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium which makes it for the perfect PMS comfort food. Green leafy vegetables, almonds, whole grains and quinoa are also rich in magnesium (and are equally less craved!)
This is another nutrient we’ve grown up hearing about- “eat your fish it’s good for your brain”. Although research also states that omega-3 may help with reduced anxiety associated with PMS, reduced inflammation and improved cramping. Foods rich in omega-3 include oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
B6 plays an important role in the development of noradrenaline, serotonin and melatonin. These hormones are essential for improved mood and regulating your body clock. Research suggests that a low status may contribute to mood swings, irritability and anxiety associated with PMS. Ensure you’re incorporating wholegrains, fish, eggs and soya beans into your diet.
LIMIT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
This probably isn’t exactly what you wanted to read… but it’s important you’re aware that alcohol contributes to the depletion of nutrients which can further enhance your PMS symptoms. Maybe save the vino for later on in the month.
PMS can often leave you feeling lonely, miserable and all round sorry for yourself. Remember to be extra kind, say no when it all gets too much and use these tips to help manage your symptoms and remember being a girl isn’t an easy task and you’re doing a brilliant job of it!
Ghanbari, Z., Haghollahi, F., Shariat, M., Foroshani, A. R., & Ashrafi, M. (2009). Effects of calcium supplement therapy in women with premenstrual syndrome. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 48(2), 124-129.
Shobeiri, F., Araste, F. E., Ebrahimi, R., Jenabi, E., & Nazari, M. (2017). Effect of calcium on premenstrual syndrome: A double-blind randomized clinical trial. Obstetrics & gynecology science, 60(1), 100-105.
Bahrami, A., Avan, A., Sadeghnia, H. R., Esmaeili, H., Tayefi, M., Ghasemi, F., … & Bahrami-Taghanaki, H. (2018). High dose vitamin D supplementation can improve menstrual problems, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual syndrome in adolescents. Gynecological Endocrinology, 1-5.
Parazzini, F., Di Martino, M., & Pellegrino, P. (2017). Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnesium research, 30(1), 1-7.
Kaushik, D., Sheetal, D., Sharma, L., & Ajmera, P. (2017). Pre menstrual syndrome among females.