PMS or "premenstrual syndrome" refers to a group of symptoms experienced in the days leading up to a woman's period. It can last for a few days or for a few weeks. Many factors can contribute to PMS, but there are also beneficial foods that help ease the physical and emotional discomfort that accompany the body's sensitivity to hormonal changes.
While comfort foods and "junk" foods may be very appealing during this time, swapping those out for these nutrient-rich foods will help to promote a more balanced body and will lessen the severity of PMS-related symptoms.
Ease Bloating & Reduce Constipation By Eating Broccoli, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Cabbage
Most people would not associate these "gassy" foods with PMS, but there is one thing they all have in common: fiber. When regularly eaten, these foods not only promote better digestive function (including reduced bloating), but they also support the liver's ability to metabolize hormones, resulting in better hormone balance. While it's true that these cruciferous and cabbage vegetables can produce more gas when you're not used to eating them, a single daily serving or several weekly servings can go a long way in contributing to total body wellness. They're packed with folate, vitamin K, and many other nutrients that promote bone health, energy production, and thyroid health. Since thyroid imbalance can greatly contribute to PMS symptoms, it's a convenient benefit that these foods are super nourishing to the endocrine (hormone-producing) organs.
Lift Your Mood & Reduce Breast Tenderness with Salmon, Avocado, and Eggs
These foods are rich in the family of B vitamins (collectively known as B complex), and are not only good for mood balance and general nervous system wellness, but also for reducing bloating and excess body fluids. B6 especially can function as a diuretic and can help to reduce breast discomfort that is associated with PMS. The protein found in these foods, too, can help with hormone balance since hormones respond best to stable blood sugar levels. Eat two to three 6-ounce servings of protein daily for best results, ideally from wild-caught, organic, free-range sources.
Relax Your Muscles & Reduce Headaches with Dark Chocolate, Spinach, and Bananas
Muscle aches, cramps, and headaches are some common complaints of PMS, and many women tend to rely on OTC aids like NSAIDs (Tylenol, Advil) for relief. But natural sources of magnesium and potassium like dark chocolate, spinach, and bananas can actually have a better long-term effect without the negative side effects associated with NSAID use. Plus, who doesn't want to eat dark chocolate at a time like that? Just make sure it's at least 75 percent dark, is organic, and contains as little sugar as possible.
Avoid Nutrient-Depleting Foods During PMS
While it's great to consume foods that help to balance PMS, you'll undo the positive benefits by consuming foods that exacerbate symptoms, like sugar, fried foods, and other "junk." Caffeine can also worsen PMS symptoms and can produce additional ones, like anxiety, so choose herbal tea over coffee (or go decaf!) when PMS symptoms are present. When symptoms get really bad, if you want to avoid prescription anti-anxiety medication or sleeping pills, the amino acid L-theanine and the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha can both be helpful in promoting calm, rest, and ease during times of hormonal unrest.
Writer Aimee McNew has a Master's in Holistic Nutrition Therapy (MNT) and is also a Certified Practitioner of Nutrition Therapy (CNTP).
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.