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Premenstrual Syndrome and Nutrition

Por Violeta Chacón, Bachelor of Clinical Nutrition, MyDiet Team ™ -
Premenstrual Syndrome and Nutrition

Have you experienced episodes of anxiety and irritability on the days leading to your menstrual period? If so, it could be a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Premenstrual Syndrome is a set of symptoms that appear about five days before your menstrual period. Some women suffer depression, anger outbursts, irritability, anxiety, and confusion, often accompanied by breast sensitivity, abdominal bloating, headaches, and sometimes swelling of legs and arms. The cause of this syndrome is unclear, but it is believed that hormonal fluctuations during those days affect some brain functions.

You've probably heard that there is a connection between your diet and PMS. Although there are no “miracle foods” to make its symptoms disappear, there are some changes in your lifestyle that can help relieve the discomfort.

  • Stay active. Aerobic exercise may help reduce the symptoms of PMS, and it is also essential if you wish to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking. Women who smoke suffer from PMS symptoms more often than those who don’t.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake.  Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks. This substance can make you feel more anxious and irritable, so moderation is key. 
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol will make you feel more irritable.

  • Sleep well.  It is recommended that you sleep at least 7 to 8 hours each day. When you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to feel tired and irritable throughout the day, and this will only increase your discomfort.

  • Eat small, frequent, and balanced meals.  They should be rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Be sure to include high-calcium foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Fruits and vegetables provide a significant amount of antioxidants, which may help reduce the symptoms of PMS.

  • Avoid excess sodium in your diet.  Sodium contributes to edema, which makes you feel bloated. It is present in the salt you use for cooking, but also in foods and ingredients, such as instant soups, consommés, meat seasonings, sodas, and canned products. Avoid these foods in order to reduce your consumption of sodium. It is very important to drink enough water every day, since it is essential for the proper function of your kidneys and bowel.

  • Learn to manage stress.  There are many different types of therapies to manage stress. Focus on a healthy self-esteem and good social interactions.

In rare cases, PMS can even interfere with daily activities, decreasing productivity at work and affecting social interactions. Each woman may have different symptoms, but what we all should do is change our behaviors in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. Not only will this help prevent the symptoms of PMS, but it will also contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases and their complications.


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