In this episode, we focus on nutrition for PMS. Here are some of the key points:
What is PMS?
- A wide variety of symptoms caused by changes in hormones throughout the month and chemical changes in the brain.
- Symptoms including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, backaches, fatigue, irritability and depression.
- Symptoms tend to recur in a predictable pattern.
- But the physical and emotional changes you experience with premenstrual syndrome may vary from just slightly noticeable to all the way to intense.
- There aren’t any standard medical tests to diagnose PMS, so it’s really important to be mindful of your symptoms — especially if your PMS is on the intense spectrum.
- Always talk with your health provider about potential treatment options.
What is Dysmenorrhea?
- So there’s PMS and then there’s dysmenorrhea- which is the physical pain and cramping associated with PMS and your menstrual cycle.
- It has varying degrees of intensity, and for many women, it can be a debilitating condition.
The two Types of Dysmenorrhea?
- There’s primary dysmenorrhea, which is all the monthly cramping and pain many women get related to getting their period.
- And then there’s secondary dysmenorrhea, which is when the discomfort is caused by a certain condition- like endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Treatment Options for PMS and Dysmenorrhea:
There are different treatment options- the 2 most popular are:
- Birth control– the mechanisms for how they work vary depending on which type you use
- NSAID’s (asprin, advil, etc)- which target the prostaglandins that trigger the cramping and pain
- Some women also take diuretics to relieve the bloating, and/or antidepressants.
- Eat smaller, more-frequent meals to reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness. This is especially helpful if you’re nauseous.
- Research has shown that high-fiber, low-fat plant-based diets have been linked with a reduction in menstrual pain.
- A study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that women who followed a low-fat vegan diet had a significant reduction in pain and PMS.
- We’re not saying you need to go vegan, but if your symptoms are pretty severe, it can be an alternative option that may yield positive results. Or consider veganism during the height of your PMS to see how you feel.
- Limit salt and salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol shortly before your period starts- in many women, it can trigger headaches, anxiety, cramping, irritability, (and more!), during this time.
And then there were carbs:
- For many women, the carb craving is so real during PMS.
- During this time, most women experience a drop in serotonin, which triggers cravings for carbs since the body uses carbs to make serotonin.
- We tend to crave the simple carbs- chocolate, sweets- since they’re metabolized way quicker for that quick serotonin boost.
- As comforting as these foods may sound, this is not the best way to relieve PMS symptoms.
- For long-lasting results for alleviating PMS, choose foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Also, try not to eat those complex carbs with too much fat, since fat slows down the digestion and absorption of carbs- delaying the production of serotonin.
- We find it best to have 4-6 small meals throughout the day during intense PMS. Some examples of a good meals could be: 2 slices of whole grain toast with hummus and vegetables, or some version of rice, beans, and vegetables.
Supplements to consider:
- Magnesium. Taking 360 mg of supplemental magnesium daily may help reduce fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating in women with premenstrual syndrome. Magnesium also helps with muscle relaxation, which may help relieve the cramping.
- Vitamin E. If taken in 400 international units daily, Vitamin E may ease PMS symptoms by reducing the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that cause cramps and breast tenderness.
- Tea’s & Herbs. For some women, tea’s made from ginger, chamomile, and raspberry leaf relieve some of the discomfort.
- At least 30 minutes of brisk walking, running, swimming or other cardio most days of the week- especially leading up to your menstrual cycle.
- This can help with fatigue and a depressed mood.
- Breathing/meditation and yoga helps with stress, anxiety, headaches and relaxation.
- Make sure to get enough sleep during your time of the month. If you’re having intense PMS, it’s probably not the best time to stay out late hanging with the homies. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
- A study by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that acupuncture was helpful for some people.
- Back massages can also help alleviate the muscle pain
Have you tried any of these remedies? Definitely leave a comment and let us know what worked for you!