PMS. Can nutrition help?
The short answer is: Absolutely. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common phenomenon experienced by many menstruating individuals. Symptoms including bloating, mood swings, fatigue, cravings, and irritability are common. While it might seem like there's no escape from these monthly discomforts, managing PMS through proper nutrition can significantly alleviate its impact.
Smart nutrition plays a role in managing PMS symptoms. Research suggests that 'Western' dietary pattern is linked to PMS symptoms whereas 'healthy and traditional' style of eating is helpful (1). What does this actually mean? ‘Western’ dietary pattern is characterized by high intake of fast foods, soft drink, and processed meats; whereas ‘traditional' dietary pattern contains eggs, tomato sauce, fruits, and red meat, and also high in dried fruits, condiments and nuts. Notice here the research talks about 'dietary pattern', so it is what the individual eats most of the time. It is also important to note nutritional research findings are based on statstics, so on an individual level, it maybe helpful to look at how we can modify our eating habit to a more 'tradition' pattern.
Certain nutrients play a pivotal role in managing PMS symptoms. Calcium and magnesium, for instance, have been linked to alleviating menstrual discomfort. Dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of these minerals.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts possess anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.
Although individual experiences of PMS can vary significantly. While dietary adjustments can alleviate some symptoms, severe cases might require additional support from healthcare professionals. Additionally, regular exercise, stress management techniques like yoga or meditation, and sufficient sleep can complement dietary changes in managing PMS.
In conclusion, while PMS might feel like an unavoidable monthly struggle, making informed dietary choices can significantly ease its impact. Embracing a 'traditiioal' eating style rich in plants, lean proteins, essential minerals, and healthy fats while staying hydrated can contribute to a smoother menstrual cycle with fewer disruptive symptoms.