Written By: Naume Guveya
Approximately 3 out of every 4 women experience PMS symptoms at some point in their life. Although the symptoms are usually mild, this by no means guarantees that they do not cause discomfort. Food is one of the natural ways to alleviate PMS symptoms, but the problem is that a large percentage of the population is eating the wrong things. The Western diet (which is characterized by processed, artificially sweetened food, with high salt levels) is spreading all across the world because of its convenience and affordability but it does nothing to alleviate PMS symptoms, in fact, it aggravates them.
Eating right and getting proper nutrition can help curb unhealthy food cravings and keep PMS symptoms under control. A healthy diet is all about nutritious and wholesome food – think #RaelEats, and you will get the picture. The beauty about a healthy diet is that it extends beyond PMS symptom relief by promoting an overall healthy lifestyle and period pain relief as well. Here are 5 changes you can make to your diet to help take away the PMS discomfort and live healthier:
Lower the salt
Salt flavors food but it also makes your body retain water. When the fluid builds up in the body, you feel bloated, and guess what, bloating is a very common PMS symptom. Consuming salt is bad for health but it is worse if your PMS symptoms consist of breast tenderness, bloating and swelling.
Unfortunately most processed and fast food has loads of salt so do yourself a favor and make your own meals at home whenever possible. The list of foods that contains high salt levels is pretty big but a good start is to ditch: potato chips, pretzels, cold cuts, canned soups and vegetables, instant breakfast cereals, soy sauce, and pasta sauce.
Up your fatty acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are popular for their health benefits one of which is their potential ability to help with PMS symptoms. These fats can help regulate hormone levels which in turn reduces the severity of the symptoms. However, a balance must exist between omega-3 and omega-6 because studies suggest that high levels of omega-6 may lead to chronic inflammation. To optimize your consumption of these fats try some fatty fish like salmon, nuts, and seeds.
Go for fiber
Constipation, bloating, and indigestion are common PMS symptoms, but they can be relieved by a diet containing dietary fiber. Fiber helps to keep your digestion moving and this improves your comfort and lowers your susceptibility to PMS symptoms associated with your gut. Great sources of dietary fiber include nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Add the vitamin and mineral
Calcium and vitamin D have the power to alleviate PMS symptoms. Calcium helps reduce cramping and vitamin D influences any emotional changes that may occur during PMS. Vitamin D also helps the body to absorb and use calcium and so these two nutrients work well together. Include some fatty fish, eggs, white beans, spinach, and kale in your diet to get your vitamin and mineral dose. Wondering why dairy products are not part of this list when they are a great source of calcium? The answer is right below.
Binge on water
Drinking water stops the body from retaining water (yes, you read that right) and this eases bloating and in some cases, cramping. Increasing your water intake will also help limit the amount of dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol you consume. Dairy products tend to be difficult to digest and this can cause cramping, hence it is not such a great idea to consume them if you experience PMS cramping. Additionally, too much alcohol and caffeine can mess up your sleeping patterns and this may contribute to and intensify your PMS symptoms.
A proud Zimbabwean, Naume Guveya, currently lives in Harare. An accountant by profession and a writer by passion, she is a health, wellness, and personal development fanatic who wants to make a difference in the world one good deed at a time. Naume loves good food, great music, and amazing books. You can follow her stories on .