PMS is no fun. Anyone who says it’s fun is perhaps taking lots of drugs. PMDD is a very serious condition that requires a doctor’s care. But for the 40 million women who suffer monthly with the more mild aspects there may be help. Did you know that there are several foods that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS? In addition to exercise, here are 10 foods that may take some of the steam of PMS discomfort. For those that are creeping closer to peri-menopause listen up as well because these tips can help you too. Cramps, bloating, moodiness and fatigue be gone!
- Artichokes. Artichokes contain magnesium. Magnesium supplementation can help alleviate many symptoms of PMS including cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention. Magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. This makes it especially important for women who suffer from menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhoea). Cramps are caused by strong contractions of the uterus and magnesium helps to relax the powerful uterine muscles.
- Flax seed. High in lignans, a natural hormone-balancing substance, flax seed oil flax seed oil is effective in treating mild depression symptoms brought on by PMS. (Also It’s also good for depression and fatigue. An alternative is to buy ground up flax seed, and sprinkle it on top of your food (such as oatmeal and popcorn).
- Oatmeal is a good source of manganese (see #1).
- Tofu contains soy. Soy may support better menstrual health by favorably altering estrogen levels and estrogen metabolism. Several studies suggest that pre-menopausal women who consume soy protein significantly lower their estrogen levels to more “balanced” levels.
- Edamame also contains soy. (see #4)
- Chocolate! Eating chocolate stimulates the release of mood-affecting chemicals such as endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin. These feel good chemicals may also explain why women crave chocolate when they are suffering from PMS. Serotonin levels often drop in the days before menstruation begins, so eating chocolate can help boost those levels and improve one’s mood. Read this very informative article about dark chocolate benefits.
- Yellow-fin Tuna. Several studies also suggested the effectiveness of fish oil in easing PMS symptoms. For example, this week the Journal of Reproductive Health published a study by researchers at a leading Brazilian University. The study found that taking capsules containing about 1 gram of a blended essential fatty acids produced a significant reduction in PMS symptoms. What’s more, women who took the supplements for six months saw a bigger benefit than those who took them for three months.
- Brown rice is a complex carb that also contains magnesium and has fiber. Fiber-rich foods are complex carbs that take longer for your body to break down and absorb, further curbing your cravings. Eat more whole-grain breads and cereals, and produce like legumes, fruit, and starchy veggies, which are on the complex-carb list.
- Cheese contains calcium and vitamin D which have both been shown to ease PMS symptoms. A you vegan? No worries, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale contain calcium and vitamin D as well.
- Wine and Grape Juice- Oh mama. Now let’s get one thing straight, we aren’t talking about tying one on, but studies show that moderate alcohol may have some benefit. Dr. Heller is a family practitioner, specializing in helping his patients with PMS, depression, anxiety, and chronic diseases since 1995. He is the founder of PMS Comfort and a Research Fellow for the Optimal Health Foundation in California. Here’s what he says about red wine consumption:
A dash of wine or other alcohol. A glass, or even half a glass, of wine every night is healthy for most people. We consider red wine preferable to white wine, since it is higher in antioxidants. That said, most research shows that white wine, beer, and even hard liquor also lower risk of heart disease and other health problems—when consumed in moderation. Once you increase your alcohol consumption to more than a drink or two per day, alcohol becomes unhealthy. Of course, some people don’t do well at all with alcohol, so this recommendation truly needs to be custom-tailored to each individual. We’ve met women whose PMS and PMDD improved quite a bit when they quit drinking.
Life is best lived in moderation. Servings sizes of these foods should be reasonable. Many studies suggest that no one fix is out there but a combination of healthy food choices and exercise can make a real impact. We hope this takes some of the sting out of PMS and put the pep back in your step!