Premenstrual symptoms (PMS) affect about 40% of women of reproductive age with severe cases occurring in approximately 5%, enough to impair their daily life and relationships. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to change in mood and emotions, physical health and behaviour which shows up consistently each month. It develops between ovulation and the start of period (it can start roughly 2 weeks before period). It usually lasts until few days after period begins.
Scientific research hasn’t led to a conclusive cause of PMS, or an explanation for why some people experience it more severely than others. However there have been few different theories suggested by researchers as to why PMS happens. This includes cyclical changes in hormones, chemical changes in the brain, existing mental health condition, lifestyle factors. Usually this will be overcome with hot packs or menstrual Panadol to provide the symptom relief. Some experts also believed that certain food can relieve or worsen PMS.
Here are some diet related tips which may help to deal with PMS.
- Eating more calcium and vitamin D rich food
Studies have shown that women who have diets rich in calcium and vitamin D are at a lower risk of developing PMS. Increased intake of vitamin D can affect emotional changes and serotonin levels responsible for elevating mood. Calcium works in the brain to relieve depression and anxiety.
- Include whole grains, lean protein, fruit and vegetables
Eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of colourful, fiber rich fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains is a better approach to manage PMS rather than modifying the diet only when the symptoms happen. It is important to include iron-rich foods such as lean protein before and during menstruation to replace what has been lost each month to avoid anaemia.
- Go easy on salt and sugar
Salt intake is known to cause water retention which can result in bloating. To overcome this problem, it is advised to not add salt to your food and avoid highly processed foods that contain high amount of sodium.
Eating too much sugar causes a short-term spike in blood sugar which eventually leads to a crash that can worsen your mood. Excess sugar intake can result in hormonal imbalance and decrease level of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible to maintain mood balance.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
Alcohol can harm your health in a number of ways which may worsen PMS. This includes dehydration which can worsen headaches and cause bloating. On the other hand, caffeine can cause water retention and bloating. Both alcohol and caffeine may cause digestive issues. If you tend to get diarrhea during menstruation, it is best to reduce caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Bendich A, Johnson SR, Willett WC, Manson JE. Calcium and vitamin D intake and risk of incident premenstrual syndrome. Archives of internal medicine. 2005 Jun 13;165(11):1246-52.
- Bahrami A, Bahrami-Taghanaki H, Afkhamizadeh M, Avan A, Mazloum Khorasani Z, Esmaeili H, Amin B, Jazebi S, Kamali D, Ferns GA, Sadeghnia HR. Menstrual disorders and premenstrual symptoms in adolescents: prevalence and relationship to serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2018 Oct 3;38(7):989-95.
- Isgin‐Atici K, Kanbur N, Akgül S, Buyuktuncer Z. Diet quality in adolescents with premenstrual syndrome: a cross‐sectional study. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2020 Jul;77(3):351-8.