The Impact of Nutrition on Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) refers to a combination of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms experienced by many women in the days leading up to their menstrual cycle. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, negatively affecting a woman's quality of life. While the exact cause of PMS is not fully understood, scientific research suggests that nutrition plays a significant role in both the development and management of PMS symptoms. In this blog, we will explore the impact of nutrition on PMS and discuss evidence-based dietary strategies that can help alleviate symptoms.
How can diet alleviate symptoms ?
- Balanced Macronutrient Intake: A well-balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, is essential for overall health and can also influence PMS symptoms. Consuming complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, helps regulate blood sugar levels and stabilize mood swings. Protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, fish, beans, and legumes, provide essential amino acids that aid in the production of neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. Additionally, consuming healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, and seeds, can help reduce inflammation and promote hormonal balance.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Several studies have shown a potential link between calcium and vitamin D deficiencies and the severity of PMS symptoms. Calcium helps regulate muscle contractions and mood stability, while vitamin D assists in calcium absorption. Increasing dietary intake of calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified cereals, can potentially reduce symptoms of PMS. Additionally, getting adequate sunlight exposure or considering vitamin D supplementation can support overall hormonal balance.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral involved in various biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle relaxation and neurotransmitter regulation. Low magnesium levels have been associated with increased PMS symptoms, including bloating, mood swings, and menstrual pain. Consuming magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy green vegetables can help alleviate these symptoms. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and their role in brain function. Studies have suggested that omega-3 supplementation may reduce the severity of PMS symptoms, including irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness. Including fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel) in the diet or taking omega-3 supplements can be beneficial in managing PMS symptoms.
Suggestions for certain hormonal changes are as follows:
1.Mood swings and irritability during PMS
Suggestion: Increase consumption of complex carbohydrates. Reasoning: Complex carbohydrates help regulate blood sugar levels, preventing rapid fluctuations that can contribute to mood swings. They also aid in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being. Including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in the diet can help stabilize mood and reduce irritability.
2. Bloating and fluid retention during PMS
Suggestion: Increase magnesium-rich foods. Reasoning: Magnesium acts as a natural diuretic, promoting the excretion of excess fluid and reducing bloating. Including magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy green vegetables can help alleviate these symptoms.
3. Scenario: Fatigue and low energy levels during PMS
Suggestion: Ensure adequate iron intake. Reasoning: Iron deficiency can contribute to fatigue and low energy levels. Consuming iron-rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fortified cereals can help combat these symptoms. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body, thereby increasing energy levels.
Nutrition plays a vital role in the management of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. A well-balanced diet that includes macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can help stabilize mood swings and promote hormonal balance. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D supports muscle and mood regulation, while magnesium-rich foods aid in reducing bloating and mood swings. Omega-3 fatty acids exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and can alleviate symptoms such as irritability and breast tenderness. By making conscious dietary choices and incorporating nutrient-rich foods, women can potentially reduce the severity of PMS symptoms and improve their overall well-being.
Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.
At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.
- Chocano-Bedoya PO, et al. Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(5):1080-6.
- Rossignol AM, et al. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation decreases severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(4):S42.
- Walker AF, et al. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. J Womens Health. 1998;7(9):1157-65.
- Greenberg JA, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for premenstrual syndrome: a randomized placebo-controlled trial in adolescents. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2017;30(3):329-34.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/premenstrual-syndrome-pms. Accessed May 26, 2023.