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Five Ways to Address PMS Through Food, From an RD

by Tracy Lockwood Beckerman

Enjoying nutrious foods can help you feel great while on your period.

Talking Openly About PMS

Having open conversations about PMS (or premenstrual syndrome) seems to be more common these days than trendy white sneakers or tie-dye outfits. And with good cause! PMS is one of the most prevalent conditions in women of reproductive age. Rather than letting PMS bombard us with general discomfort, I’m going to give you my top pieces of advice when it comes to managing PMS – with food! That’s right, the food we eat can have a major impact on our PMS symptoms. By making changes to our everyday eating and adding these foods to our menu, it can help alleviate them during our cycle

1. Believe in Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

As hormones decrease during PMS, we also lose the feel-good hormone, serotonin. This shift can leave us feeling down in the dumps. Thankfully, Vitamin B6 helps to prevent this drastic decline and can restore adequate levels of serotonin through the power of food. Aim for foods rich in Vitamin B6 such as watermelon, bananas, fish and potatoes to refuel!

2. Say Thanks to Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Thiamine is another B-Vitamin and a nutrient that should be on your watchlist when it comes to PMS management. Thiamine helps to improve circulation which can dissolve PMS-related cramps. Plus, eating more foods rich in thiamine can bring more mood-boosting neurotransmitters into the brain such as serotonin and dopamine. This can fight moodiness and general fatigue when PMS hits. For more thiamine, be sure to include more oats, oranges, nuts and bean-based pasta in your diet.

3. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You want omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to squash the inflammatory side effects (such as bloating, gas or breast distention) of your period. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 found in salmon, pumpkin seed, flaxseeds and walnuts help to reduce pain associated with the release of the uterine lining during our period. Bonus: omega-3 rich foods are often packed with protein which is key during your period to satisfy cravings and intense hunger hormones.

4. Compile more Calcium

Believe it or not, low levels of calcium are thought to be a big contributor to PMS. In fact, researchers strongly believe that PMS may actually be a sign of calcium deficiency. Studies suggest that women who ate a high calcium diet had a lower risk of developing PMS than those who ate a diet low in calcium. In preparation for your period and during your period, be sure to include dairy sources of calcium such as milk and cheese as well as almonds, kale and bok choy to ward off pesky PMS symptoms.

5. Up the Antioxidants

Foods rich in antioxidants, mainly fueled by plants, can help ease an array of PMS symptoms like bloating, gas, and cramping. This is due to the vitamins and minerals found in antioxidant-rich foods such as almonds, blueberries and dark leafy greens, which can help tame the uterus thanks to the healing powers of Vitamin C and Vitamin E. A diet bountiful with antioxidants can repair damaged cells and keep inflammation under control, during your period and beyond!



Author Summary: Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian, women’s health expert and author of “The Better Period Food Solution.” She is also the face behind the Instagram account @thehappiestnutritionist.

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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.