Beat Premenstrual Syndrome With Anti PMS Foods
Many women experience physical or emotional symptoms in relation to their menstrual cycle and, for one in 20 women premenstrual syndrome (PMS) severely blights their life. Symptoms occur 7 to 14 days before each period, and can include mood swings, depression, agitation, feelings of being unable to cope, fluid retention, migraines, clumsiness and food cravings.
The causes of PMS is still unclear, but could involve fluctuations in hormone levels and changes in the chemistry of the brain. Fortunately, PMS symptoms can often be greatly improved by simple changes in diet.
The Calming Carbohydrates
Carbohydrate foods, especially the starchy ones rich in B vitamins, fiber and minerals, are valuable in the prevention and relief of PMS. Examples include bread, pasta, rice, pulses (beans and lentils) and potatoes. Researchers believe they help by raising the level of a calming brain chemical called serotonin. Another benefit of eating starchy foods is that they tend to be low in fat, helping to reduce your overall fat intake. This in turn causes your body to produce less estrogen, which seems to alleviate symptoms like irritability and anxiety.
The Magic Of Magnesium
The magnesium level in the red blood cells has been shown to be significantly lower in PMS sufferers than other women. This mineral is important for nervous function and energy release, a deficiency is characterized by excessive nervous sensitivity, generalized aches and pains, and a lower premenstrual pain threshold. Magnesium rich foods to look for include nuts, pulses, seafood, lean meat, bananas, dairy products, wholegrains and green vegetables.
Substitute With Soy
Soy products such as tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt and textured vegetable protein contain naturally occurring plant hormones, known as isoflavones, that are believed to help regulate the effects of estrogen in the body. Eating an isoflavone rich diet can reduce monthly breast pain. There is also evidencce that the same regime can work for women with irregular periods or menopausal symptoms. Eating a soy based food every day is the ideal. Just swap one or two servings of dairy products for calcium fortified soy versions.
Vitamin B Lift
B vitamins can also combat PMS and like magnesium, they play an important role in energy release and nervous function (low levels can increase feelings of depression). Vitamin B6 may be especially useful. A study concluded that doses of up to 100 mg per day could relieve premenstrual symptoms and premenstrual depression. Boost your intake by eating foods like Marmite, brown rice and other wholegrain cereals, nuts, pulses, red meat (especially liver and kidney) and leafy green vegetables.
The Beneficial Fats
Oily fish (mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon), tuna, trout, linseeds, nuts and polyunsaturated cooking oils (sunflower and rapeseed) provide omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. A balance of these is needed for the production of prostaglandins that regulate the menstrual cycle. A low fat diet is healthy, but you need some daily beneficial fats to avoid menstrual problems and PMS. Try to eat oily fish at least once or twice a week, and sprinkle a tablespoon of linseeds and nuts over your cereal each morning. Some women benefit from taking an evening primrose oil supplement.
Foods To Avoid
Glucose, used in cakes and sweets causes a swift rise in blood sugar, followed by a rapid fall. This disrupts energy levels, increasing irritability. Try to limit the amount of sweets you eat and indulge only after meals.
Alcohol depletes B vitamins by flushing them out in urine and reducing the appetite, which can make PMS worse. Stick to one or two glass a day.
Too much caffeine from coffee, tea and cola can increase irritability. Stick to 2 to 3 cups a day.
These can encourage inflammatory responses in the body and make menstrual cramps worse. Cut down on dairy products and fatty meat such as sausages and burgers.
High salt (sodium) foods increase bloating. Processed foods, particularly take out curries, Chinese meals and pizzas often contain a lot of salt.
Coping With Cravings
- It’s normal to eat more in a week leading yp to your period.
- Satisfy cravings with healthier foods. If you crave for sugar, fill up with fruit or yogurt. If you must eat fat, make it nuts, seeds, avocados or olives rather than crisps.
- Drink plenty of water to help keep your stomach full, reducing the desire to eat.
- If you binge, don’t feel guilty, it will only increase the chances of pigging out again.
Eat To Beat PMS
Butter Bean Houmous makes a tasty change from the chickpea variety. Drain a 400 g can of butter beans. Blend to a paste with 5 tbsp olive oil, 3 roughly chopped garlic cloves and the juice of ½ lemon. Add sea salt and pepper and 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley. Serve with wholemeal pita bread.
Make a Vitamin Packed Salad by tossing together a 80 g bag of fresh rocket, 1 large segmented orange and a handful of chopped walnuts. Whisk together 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season to taste. Drizzle over the salad before serving.
Pulses are great for PMS sufferers, and a Spicy Dhal is another delicious way to eat more of them. Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a large pan and add 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped onion. Fry for 4 minutes until softened and golden. Stir in 150 g red lentils, 1 tbsp hot curry paste and 600 ml hot vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 tbsp chopped coriander and serve immediately with naan bread.
Three Phase PMS Plan
Stick to Phase 1 for two or three months. Move on to the next phase only if there is no improvement.
Insure you have a healthy diet. Eat regular meals including five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Choose wholegrain cereals. Limit caffeine and salt and cut back on saturated (animal) fats.
Alternate three smaller meals with three carbohydrate snacks every day. The steadier release of glucose into the blood should help deal with the symptoms.
Consider supplements. Phase 1 increases your intake of the valuable nutrients that influence brain chemicals and hormones, but some women may benefit from taking higher amounts. Try daily supplements of magnesium (300 mg), vitamin B6 (100 mg), and evening primrose oil (2000 mg to 3000 mg)