Is There A Diet To End PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome)?

At least 50 percent of women in their reproductive years will notice unpleasant mental and physical changes in themselves sometime during the two weeks before the menstrual bleeding begins.

PMS is the medical term used to describe the collection of different mental and physical problems that may occur during the second half of the menstrual cycle. There are many different possible symptoms and the important clue is not their nature but the cyclical timing of the symptoms.

If the symptoms are due to PMS, they will begin in the second half of the monthly menstrual cycle, sometime after ovulation, and will disappear once the menstrual flow begins. The symptoms will then reappear after ovulation occurs in the next menstrual cycle and so the cyclical repetitive nature of PMS will become apparent.

Some women will notice symptoms for the full two weeks preceding bleeding, while others will feel unwell for only several days before bleeding. Some months may be worse than others with a variation in the intensity and type of symptoms.

Nutritional imbalances and deficiencies can greatly worsen PMS. I have observed that many women obtain complete relief from PMS after improving their diet and taking nutritional supplements. You may, as I did originally, find it surprising that such simple and safe nutritional strategies can completely overcome the sometimes dramatic and severe symptoms of hormonal imbalance and yet, it is a demonstrated fact that I have seen countless times.

There are a few golden rules to follow and if you observe them six days a week, you will be able to enjoy the occasional indiscretion without problems.

Strategies for overcoming PMS

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, soda and refined sugars. Get your sugar from fresh fruits. This will make it much easier to maintain a healthy body weight, will stabilize your blood sugar and make you less prone to cravings. High sugar diets promote the loss of minerals through urine, particularly chromium and magnesium. Magnesium is excellent for reducing emotional symptoms before menstruation.
  • Reduce unhealthy fats, e.g. preserved meats or deep-fried foods, processed and take away meals, margarine and processed hydrogenated vegetable oils. This aids weight control, reduces hormonal imbalances, reduces cysts in the breasts and ovaries, reduces the risk of cancer and reduces inflammation and pain. Some research has shown that consuming trans fatty acids can inhibit ovulation. If you do not ovulate, you will not be producing adequate progesterone. I often refer to progesterone as “The Happy Hormone” because it is wonderful for alleviating anxiety or depression in the two weeks leading up to menstruation. If you struggle with these symptoms, you may find a natural progesterone cream highly beneficial.
  • Reduce caffeine, excessive salt and alcohol. This reduces anxiety and mood changes, fluid retention, headaches, breast pain and breast cysts. Caffeine is strongly linked with painful, lumpy breasts and many women find those symptoms vanish when they reduce their caffeine intake. I do not recommend you cut all salt from your diet. Good quality salt is beneficial; it helps to keep your adrenal glands healthy and can improve your quality of sleep. By good quality salt I mean sea salt or Himalayan salt. Some women notice they become salt-sensitive the week before menstruation. It may help to cut down on all salt just at that time. Alcohol depletes your body of B vitamins and magnesium, and it makes you more prone to depression.
  • Increase foods high in magnesium and iron, e.g. green leafy vegetables, beets, legumes, nuts, seeds, seafood and pastured red meat (not essential if you are vegetarian). Tahini and culinary seaweeds (such as kelp, arame, dulse, wakame) are excellent sources of trace minerals and calcium. These seaweeds or sea vegetables can be used in soups, stir fries or salads. This reduces headaches and increases energy levels. Prevents iron deficiency anemia. Increases bone density and supports the function of the thyroid gland. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding are typically iron deficient, and this can inhibit ovulation, thereby impairing fertility.
  • Make sure you consume first class protein at every meal, e.g. organic  eggs, organic poultry, seafood, pastured (grass fed) meat, plain cultured yogurt or whey protein powder. This should help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, thus reduce cravings for sugar or junk food between meals. Consuming adequate protein also helps to prevent an energy crash in the afternoon that leaves many people searching for a sugar treat as a pick me up.
  • Ensure you are eating enough good fats. Many women are scared of eating fat because they mistakenly believe it will make them fat. This is not true. Good quality, natural fats help to support a healthy metabolism and healthy hormones. Your sex hormones are known as steroid hormones and they are largely made of fat. Therefore if you want balanced hormones, you simply must consume adequate good fats. Some good sources of healthy fats include avocados, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, pastured butter or ghee, oily fish and organic coconut oil.

Pre-menstrual syndrome can make life miserable for many women in the week leading up to menstruation. It can take a heavy emotional toll on a woman and anyone living with her. Fortunately I have found these dietary strategies very effective for the majority of my patients.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.